Monday, February 21, 2022

Bourdieu's Field Theory Explained Simply

Pierre Bourdieu's Field Theory defines society as an interweaving of fields: economic, political, cultural, artistic, sports, religious, etc. Each field is organized according to its own logic determined by the specificity of the issues and the assets that can be brought to bear there. The interactions are therefore structured according to the resources that each of the agents possesses and mobilizes, that is to say, to use the categories constructed by Bourdieu, their capital, whether economic, cultural, social or symbolic (see Bourdieu on Forms of Capital).

According to Bourdieu's Field Theory, the field is a space of positions where the participants share interests (the issues), all seek to capture part of the "specific capital" of the field (for example political capital in the political field, intellectual capital in the intellectual field, etc). The chances of capturing this specific capital depend on the volume of "basic" capital that the agent possesses (economic, cultural, social and symbolic) according to a convertibility rate. For example, cultural capital will have a high convertibility rate to intellectual capital, lower to economic capital.

Each field has its specific operating rules, but we can find regularities such as the struggle between the dominators of the field and the new entrants - who have an interest in subverting the rules of distribution of capital specific to the field.