Nihal Kayali

Nihal Kayali

Graduate Student


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I study how immigrants shape configurations of service provision in host states. My scholarship integrates the fields of international migration, organizational studies, and the political sociology of welfare states in an effort to understand how nonstate configurations of service provision emerge, survive, and institutionalize in response to state policies.

My dissertation asks a simple question: how does an explicitly temporary migration policy shape service provision and access for refugees? Moreover, how do forced migrants themselves – both as consumers and purveyors of services — shape these institutions? It answers these questions using a qualitative, longitudinal study of one organizational field in a case of forced migrant reception: healthcare provision for Syrians in Turkey. The dissertation draws on interviews with Syrian patients, Syrian doctors, Turkish doctors, NGO administrators, and government officials, as well as numerous clinic and NGO site visits over the course of five years. I analyze individual-level healthcare-seeking practices among refugees, organizational level changes in provision, and policy-shifts. I integrate this macro-, meso-, and micro-level interview and ethnographic data into a cohesive examination of organizational transformation and institutionalization in a temporary policy context.

My next research project builds on my dissertation fieldwork by examining the increasing privatization and transnational orientation of immigrant healthcare providers. Moving beyond the realm of refugee healthcare, this project traces how migration flows forge networks that facilitate the globalization of a healthcare marketplace in a world where national welfare states are experiencing persistent retrenchment and privatization.


  • M.A. Sociology, UCLA 2018.
  • B.A. Political Science, Yale University 2013.

Fields of Study

International Migration, Political Sociology, Organizational Studies, Health, Middle East Studies, Qualitative Methods



Kayali, Nihal. 2022. “Negotiating State-Civil Society Relations in Turkey: The Case of Refugee-Supporting Organizations.” Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.

Essays and Reports:

Kayali, Nihal. 2021. “Notes from the Field: Transformations in Refugee Healthcare.” Global and Transnational Sociology: American Sociological Association GATS Section Newsletter.

 Kayali, Nihal. 2020. “Syrians Navigate Turkey’s Shifting Health Care Terrain.” Middle East Report 297.

Madra, Aysel, Batuhan Aydagul, Didem Aksoy, and Nihal Kayali. 2017. “Community Building Through Inclusive Education.” Education Reform Initiative. 

 Woods, Auveen, and Nihal Kayali. 2017. “Engaging Syrian Communities: The Role of Local Government in Istanbul.” Istanbul Policy Center. (Available in Turkish.)

Woods, Auveen, Bianca Benvenuti, and Nihal Kayali. 2016. “Workshop Report: Syrian Refugees in Istanbul.” IPC-Mercator Policy Brief. (Report in English and Turkish)


Awards & Grants

  • Dissertation Year Fellowship. UCLA Graduate Division. 2023-2024.
  • UCLA Center for Near East Studies Summer Dissertation Writing Award. 2023.
  • UCLA Sociology Departmental Fellowship. 2022-2023.
  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad. 2021-2022.
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. 2018-2021.
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship. UCLA. Summer 2018.
  • Graduate Assistance for Areas of National Need (GAANN). UCLA Center for Near East Studies. 2017-2018.


  • Gail Kligman (chair)
  • Roger Waldinger
  • Rogers Brubaker
  • Kevan Harris
  • Asli Bali (Yale Law School)