Transnational Fields and Power Elites: Reassembling the International with Bourdieu and Practice Theory
Forthcoming in Perspectives from International Political Sociology: Transversal Lines in International Relations (Routledge, 2016), edited by Tugba Basaran, Didier Bigo, Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet and R. B. J. Walker
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 46
25 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2016 Last revised: 12 Apr 2017
Date Written: February 23, 2016
One sociologist who has been particularly central to the development of International Political Sociology (IPS) is Pierre Bourdieu and his reflexive sociology. It is somewhat surprising given that Bourdieu was not especially attuned to international studies himself. His impact on IPS is instead via reinterpretations of his conceptual apparatus by other researchers, many of whom who have been involved in the IPS project from its outset. These post-Bourdieusian scholars have deployed reflexive sociology to explore transnational fields situated at the crossroads of the international and the national. By taking a resolutely sociological starting-point, they have provided a very different reading of the international. They have reconstructed the symbolic categories of transnational fields and notably the importance of the national modes of production vis-à-vis the production of in the making of the international. This theoretical apparatus has also been used as tools for visualising – or mapping – the international in terms of a set of specific transnational fields. The chapter concentrate on the two key notions of post-Bourdieuian IPS scholarship: reflexivity and transnational fields. They are both illustrated with examples drawn from empirical studies of transnational forms of power, elite structuration of the global and question related to transnational professionals. Although it is tempting to present this approach in a more condensed version, ready-made for an IR audience in search of only minor adjustments in the division of labour between soft constructivism and mainstream realism, the paper to guard the originality of the approach. It is the overall argument that the post-Bourdieuian approaches to the object of IR provide a very different look at the international as it assembles the international in a different deeply sociological fashion than most IR approaches.
Keywords: International political sociology, Pierre Bourdieu Transnational society, international law, international relations, field theory.
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