From pensions for civil servants to social security for all? Inclusion into old age protection in the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey (1865–2020)

How do inclusion and exclusion dynamics unfold in social security systems? Which groups are covered by social security, and in which chronological order are they included? This pilot study of a larger research project on Ideational Dynamics of Inclusion explores these questions through an analysis of old age protection in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. Inclusion into social security systems either happens through the inclusion of ‘groups’ (‘social categories’ or ‘target populations’) into existing programmes or through the creation of new programmes for certain groups. In legislation, programmatic texts or public debates social rights are ascribed to certain groups of people. Such group construction processes are not trivial and may show much diversity: in social security law, groups may be constructed around diverse dimensions such as employment, profession, gender, age, merit, citizenship, location, or ascribed identity. Through an analysis of primary legislation and programmatic texts, this paper seeks to understand the sequence of inclusion into old age protection in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. We observe a transformation from a system aimed at protecting state elites towards a system covering diverse societal groups and aspiring universal social protection. This long, gradual and halting process rested on the construction of a multitude of groups mainly but not exclusively along the dimension of employment status.