Inan Izci defends his PhD thesis

We are pleased to announce that on 2 March 2021, Inan Izci successfully defended his PhD thesis on “Metropolitan Governance in Digital Age: The EU's Influence on Local Governing of Istanbul.” The PhD defence started with a welcome by the Chair, Prof. Trisha Meyer, Director of the Research Centre for Digitalisation, Democracy and Innovation at the Brussels School of Governance. Members of the PhD jury were Prof. Delfina Soares from the United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV), Prof. Em. Matthias Finger from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Prof. Philippe De Lombaerde from the United Nations University on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) and Prof. Leo Van Audenhove from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (SCOM/SMIT). The PhD thesis was supervised by Prof. Jamal Shahin, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (supervisor) & Prof. Ayhan Kaya, Istanbul Bilgi University (co-supervisor). Below you can read more about the PhD thesis of Inan Izci. Due to current social distancing measures, the PhD defence took place online. Our warmest congratulations to Dr. Izci!  


As an international actor, the European Union (EU) is a relevant and significant actor in everyday life of people across the borders. Officially, Turkey has been a candidate country for the EU since 1999. Also, the country is a voluntary partner of EU e-government policy initiative. Therefore, there is a range of reasons for the EU have influence in digitalisation of institutional governing at local level. Accordingly, this research’s principal aim was to look at whether the EU mattered in the municipal use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in everyday governing processes when interacting with the citizens of Istanbul. Adopting an interdisciplinary transnational political sociology, it examined whether any EU influence played part in the formation of current ICT-enabled metropolitan governance system.

Relying on a qualitative case study and multi-method triangulation, it was found out that the EU was indeed a relevant and significant f/actor at everyday governing in Istanbul. It triggered the domestic reforms through the membership conditionality which led to the restructuring of municipal-citizen relationships. During this diffusion process, the EU provided the institutional elements and instruments for the domestic actors to embed the democratic governance principles into administrative and fiscal institutional norms, mechanisms and rules. Over time, the effects of the Reform process entangled with the digitalisation of municipal governing mode and practices. Currently, it was found out that the prevailing ICT-enabled municipal governing mode and practices greatly resemble with the vision and objectives of the EU’s e-government policy.

Overall, based on the empirical observations, it was possible to identify a backdoor, complex and joined-up local Europeanisation at the ICT-enabled municipal governing practices in Istanbul. As result, the ICT-enabled governing practices and citizen interactions became closer to the democratic governance vision promoted by the EU. Despite the recent divergence from the EU path, the effects of the Reform ‘spilled over’ to digitalisation processes and created ‘locked-in’ effects for furthering local democratization through the diffusion of administrative and fiscal rules. It came out from the study that the EU can support everyday digital acts of citizenship through the promotion of democratic governance and e-government policy diffusion which may then pave the way for democratization at grassroot level.