Global Fields and the Global Social Structure

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Philipp RHEIN, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen, Germany
Despite the insight in the multi-layered dynamics of the global interlacing of social relations and the emergence of a global social structure, social inequality continue to be perceived in national categories. Consequently what happens to appear as “globalisation” is still considerably shaped by and experienced within a national framework. Although sociology is already reflecting upon the transnational dimensions of classes, social inequality, and social positioning, inequality still finds its major expression in national social structures. However, such a perception of the nation state as a “container” of society became questionable. We argue that this major premise of an analysis of social inequality, known as methodological nationalism, must be theoretically and empirically overcome if sociology wants to achieve a deeper understanding of the transnational conditions of the production of inequality. Consequently, an analysis of global inequality faces formidable challenges in respect of a conceptual openness for processes of globalisation and, likewise, their transformation within a nation state. We argue that Pierre Bourdieu’s Field Theory is able to provide major insight in the complex dynamics of the global social structure. By considering that social fields are transverse and reach beyond national borders, globalisation can be viewed as conflictory processes that take place in different fields, in which the agents compete for scarce resources and social goods. At the same time the field theory also accounts for the fact that the resources accumulated in a specific global field can only be translated into a social position within a national social environment with its specific organizational structure. Not only allows Bourdieu’s perspective to consider the practical formation of social structures, it also helps to display the transnational circumstances that produce social inequality and thus makes an important contribution to a comparative analysis of social structures beyond a methodological nationalism.