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Bourdieu revisited: how do his ideas illuminate the way political ideologies affect thinking on the third sector in the context of early 21st century developments in the UK?

Bourdieu revisited: how do his ideas illuminate the way political ideologies affect thinking on the third sector in the context of early 21st century developments in the UK?

Holden, Philip and Aiken, Mike (2008) Bourdieu revisited: how do his ideas illuminate the way political ideologies affect thinking on the third sector in the context of early 21st century developments in the UK? In: The Third Sector and Political Ideologie. Unpacking Relations Between Organised Civil Society and the State. A Symposium, 25-26 Apr 2008, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Can some of the theoretical tools crafted by Pierre Bourdieu, one of the classical thinkers in the field of social and political thought, illuminate aspects of the UK third sector particularly in relation to the concept of ideology? This working paper explores these issues by, firstly, considering the location of the third sector and the broader notion of civil society. It suggests that simple ‘three sector’ views, while helpful in the past, are increasingly breaking down as a result of hybrid organisational forms which cross or move between sectors, and organisational working practises which may infuse organisations of any type. Secondly, the notion of ideology is discussed. Here it is suggested that third sector organisations, particularly in a rapidly changing environment with shifts occurring in how policy is influenced as well as in methods of welfare state provision and local governance, are necessarily immersed in ideological contests either explicitly or implicitly. Thirdly, Bourdieu’s theoretical lens is introduced to illuminate some of what is occurring in organisations and practise which affect the third sector. Particular emphasis is placed on three aspects of Bourdieu’s thought: the relational, rather than the static, pulls between actors and agents in a given field; the notion of exchange of symbolic power and cultural capital in dynamic fields and the way this can create power gradients between different third sector actors; and the interaction between Bourdieu’s notion of habitus – inscribed pre-dispositions to act or behave in certain ways – and the actual ‘play’ in a given field. Fourthly, two examples are taken to examine these ideas in contrasting settings. The aim here is to understand how Bourdieu’s theoretical apparatus may make sense of activities in spaces that are highly fluid affecting social policy and highly ‘organisational.’ Hence the paper examines (a) the development and prominence of fathers’ organisations in the UK around lobbying and advocacy roles to influence policy and in particular their use of the media; and (b) the shifting of hybrid social enterprises engaged alongside private and public sector agencies in a field tightly defined by resource streams determined by public sector funding. The paper concludes by suggesting that while Bourdieu’s ideas cannot act like a simple toolkit at a micro level they may help us in mapping the terrain. In that sense they act more like a compass than a spade in navigating a path through fields saturated with ideological import.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] This paper was presented at The Third Sector and Political Ideologie. Unpacking Relations Between Organised Civil Society and the State Symposium held from 25-26 April 2008 at the University of Kent at Canterbury, Kent. It was given during Part I: Ideational frameworks of the Symposium on 25 April 2008. [2] The Symposium was organized by the University of Kent School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and Civil Society and New Forms of Government in Europe (CINEFOGO).
Uncontrolled Keywords: conceptual, theory, third sector, non-market, civil society, political, ideology, state, public authorities, social capital, Bourdieu, cultural capital
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:20
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/8147

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