P. Bourdieu: Market as an Economic Field - Economic Sociology

П. Bourdieu: market as an economic field

In 1997, the work of the French sociologist P. Bourdieu Economy field & quot ;. It is a fundamental attempt at methodological and theoretical rethinking of the basic concepts and approaches of economics and economic sociology on the basis of the principles of structuralist constructivism.

Publications were preceded by an empirical study of the market for the construction of individual houses, which resulted in the demonstration that concepts that are immediate for economists and a number of economic and sociological theories, not subject to independent theoretical consideration, such as market, demand, supply, in fact are "products of social construction, in some way a historical artifact, the meaning of which will be given only by history." Thus, the study showed that the economic solution is, firstly, the choice is not a separate economic agent, but the result of the preferences of groups - collectives, families, enterprises, etc., each of which itself functions as a field. Secondly, economic decisions are rooted in the history of their field, reproduced in the form of habits, traditions, established stereotypes, which through the actions of agents are broadcast into the future. Thus, field history is also present in the reproduction of practices that are supported by this field.

Bourdieu refutes the classical notions of the "economic man" and the whole economy as an abstract "natural" and therefore universal condition. The French sociologist insists that economic dispositions "are the result of all of the collective history endlessly reproduced in individual histories" individual fields and agents. Thus, the actions of participants in modern economic practices in the field of credit or investment are inseparable from the history of the formation of both lending institutions and investment activities, and sociocultural attitudes toward specific forms of rationality that correspond to actions within these institutions. Actions in the context of other institutional structures, for example production, or related to the household, are characterized by other types of rational choices.

Bourdieu considers the blending of various types of economic dispositions to be incorrect and unacceptable in scientific research, since such confusions lead to absolutism, the elevation to the rank of universal local forms of economic practices. For example, what is rational in the sphere of portfolio investments may prove to be irrational when investing in the purchase of an individual residential building, since in the second case the selection strategy implies, in addition to financial expediency, the inclusion of a large number of other factors, including symbolic load, individual taste, and availability and much more. Bourdieu emphasizes that "the most fundamental economic dispositions, needs, preferences, propensities: to work, to accumulation, to investment, - are not exogenous, ie. dependent on the universal human nature, and endogenous and depend on history, the same as the history of the economic universe, in which these dispositions are in demand and receive reinforcement. Hence: ... the economic field imposes its own goals (individual enrichment) and "reasonable" on everyone (to varying degrees and depending on their economic abilities). means to achieve them. "

The economic field itself, unlike other fields - politics, bureaucracy, science, art, family, etc. - has a specificity, due to historical development. The specificity of the modern economy field , unlike other fields, is that there "actions can publicly demonstrate the desire to maximize individual material benefits, and sanctions are particularly rude." However, this frank desire to maximize profits does not extend to other areas of human life, which obey their own logic and have their own specific dispositions. Moreover, it does not extend to all segments of the field of the economy: in some of them, for example in the household, the logic of the most profitable exchange of goods is subject to the logic of the symbolic value of individual ties.

Initial assumptions of the analysis of the structure of the economic field in Bourdieu are the fundamental historicity of economic agents and the space of their actions, as well as the definition of economic rationality as a product of socially formed dispositions in relation to the field.

The field of the economy is created by the activity of agents (enterprises, firms), which give it a certain structure. Each agent has own capital, specific in volume and structure, and their interaction generates a space for the arrangement of forces, which in turn affect the aggregate of field agents. The greater the aggregate capital of the agent, the greater part of the field (industry, market share) he controls. At the same time, Bourdieu emphasizes the relative autonomy of the various subfields of the economic field, i. industries or sectors of the economy engaged in the production of similar goods. This autonomy is determined by the historical nature of the field as a social construct, inherent only to it by the history of becoming, by the way of functioning, by traditions, by the mechanisms of price formation.

The capital of an agent operating in the economic field has a complex structure that can be estimated empirically. It includes:

• financial capital as direct or indirect (through access to banks) mastering of monetary resources;

• technological capital - scientific resources (research potential) and technology that can be used in the development and production of products, which reduce labor and capital costs, increase profitability;

• trading capital as the possession of a distribution network (warehouses, transportation), marketing, etc .;

• Symbolic capital as the mastery of symbolic resources in the form of knowledge and recognition of the brand image. This type of capital works as a loan, because it is based on trust or belief;

• cultural capital;

• human capital;

• legal capital;

• The organizational capital into which Bourdieu includes the "field knowledge capital".

The structure of the field of the economy is the power relations between agents (enterprises, firms) arising from the ownership of capital and giving power over the field.

The uneven distribution of capital in the field affects the entire aggregate of agents entering the field, limiting their opportunities for action and the real affordable alternatives to choice. Within the field of the economy, it is possible to identify agents dominant and dominant, subordinates and subordinates. Dominant agents have the maximum capital for this field and have the ability to define and impose on others the rules of the game that are advantageous for themselves, take the initiative in the areas of price changes, the introduction of new products, its distribution and promotion. Dominated, whatever they do, are forced to actively or passively position themselves precisely in relation to the dominant enterprises, which is the starting point for them.

The most important element of the field structure, including the field of the economy, is its boundary. It is the dominant enterprises that have the ability to control the boundaries of the field by setting the "entrance fee" allowing newcomers to enter the field and begin to act in it, taking a certain structural position. For example, in order to start a business in any sphere, you need not only to have starting capital, but also to occupy a structural niche giving access to sources of raw materials and sales markets, infrastructure and credits, etc.

Bourdieu, with the help of field theory, refutes the classical approach to the study of economic actions as primarily two or multilateral interactions and mutual influences. Direct interaction in the forms of manipulation, intervention or any other actions may not be, but the alignment of forces in the market, the presence of the strongest and most influential, dominant agents has an impact on the environment of the existence of its other participants. Thus, economic decisions and choices are not an element and result of direct or indirect exchange, but an interpretation of opportunities and choices within fairly rigid boundaries. Bourdieu criticizes the concept of decision-making in the modern economic theory based on maximizing profits, reducing the correlation of forces constituting the field to the simple sum of interactions of individualized "calculating atoms", "egoistic monads". Due to its structure, the field of the economy tends to reduce, or at least to regulate uncertainty, is predictable and historically consistent. However, this does not in any way abolish the freedom and free play of field agents in pricing, the definition of priority strategies, etc., but only puts them in a structural framework. Inequality of positions in the field of the economy, determined by the uneven distribution of capital, their volumes and structures, leads to the fact that between field agents there is a struggle for redistribution of capital, specific benefits of the field, changing the rules of the game in the field in such a way that the agent's specific capital is acquired maximum weight. Contrary to the theories of rational action and choice, agents in the field are not free to develop their strategies, since both their effectiveness and the goals themselves they can really set depend on the position in the field structure, primarily on the distribution of capital. Freedom in the field is always freedom to play with a certain alignment of forces and improvise within the rules.

The most important concept of P. Bourdieu's sociology is the concept of habitus . As applied to economics, the concept of habitus is used by the French sociologist to overcome methodological one-sidedness and the limited abstraction of the "economic man", rational choice theory, and various forms of determinism.

P. Bourdieu points out that for studies of reflexive agents of modern societies are equally unsatisfactory:

• approaches from the point of view of classical individualism and rationality, considering economic action as determined by a reasonable calculation and orientation towards the achievement of clearly realized goals in conditions of completeness of information;

• Methodologically opposite to the first approaches from the perspective of the determinism of the economic actor by its inclusion in the collective, by the orientation toward collective goals and values.

From Bourdieu's point of view, the purpose of the concept of habitus is precisely to represent the individual agent as "collective individuality or individual collectivity". This means that subjective goals, preferences, assessments, values, etc. an individual agent acting in the economic field, are the product of his individual history, as well as belonging to historically developing collectives. The concept of rationality, the basis for the theory of economic action, is also not abstract and independent of socio-historical circumstances, but due to historically specific social positions and cultural values.

Therefore, the concept of habitus disproves the concept of the "economic man", because it assumes not the timeless and extra-social universality, constancy of the agent, and his involvement in a specific social space , in the history of economic fields.

Supporters of the theory of rational action consider the "economic man" at the same time as a rational actor that reacts to incentives with full knowledge of all the circumstances and the ability to assess all possible chances, choose the most beneficial and leading to the goal in the best possible way when making the decision, and as an individual reacting to any external influence. However, it is known that the decisions and actions of a real economically active agent can not be considered as derivatives of the situation and mechanically derive from the situation and its position in the industry. In reality, the strategies chosen by market participants are determined by their experience, goals, preferences, and also those situations that they themselves see and choose for themselves as requiring decision-making and active action.

The concept of habitus allows you to explore not reactions and abstract rational choices in general, but "smart answer" on certain specific circumstances. The habit assumes that for the agent only some particular aspects of reality are of significance, to which he pays attention, to which he attaches importance and to which he considers it necessary to react. Therefore, it can be said that the incentives to which the field agent responds do not exist abstractly and "objectively", but only "subjectively," only insofar as the agent is capable and predisposed to perceive them. In the conditions of diverse and complex situations in the market, each participant chooses the strategy of action that is obvious to him, which may not be obvious to others.

For example, in the Soviet period of United States history, as is known, economic activity was the object of administrative command regulation, and individual economic freedom in this reality proved to be unacceptable. Does this mean that during the Soviet period, exclusively passive, oriented toward external management and paternalism, was formed, a habit? If this is the case, then immediately after the start of economic reforms, there were numerous people willing to engage in individual entrepreneurial activities? Directly from the position of the Soviet man in the field of the administrative-command economy such installations can not be deduced and explained. However, using the concept of habitus can be assumed, and also to test this assumption empirically, that in the Soviet period of United States history there were individual and collective agents oriented toward free economic activity, "choosing" its slightest opportunities where others have seen only prohibitions.

Since the habitus is a product of collective and individual history, it provides continuity of the forms of activity, the trace of the past trajectory, which the agent counterposes to the actual situation. This explains the impossibility of interpreting economic practices on the basis of only knowledge of reality, as well as the fact that in the field there are always practices that carry the "obsolete" character. The reality of economic freedom does not automatically provide for the appearance of agents corresponding to it. In accordance with the habits formed by the administrative-command paternalistic economy of the Soviet period, many agents do not aspire to independent activity, but, on the contrary, "choose" opportunities of previous practices. The same agents, whose economically active habit has developed under the semi-legal, shadow economy of the Soviet period, retain their habits to the corresponding methods of activity under modern conditions, which can partly explain the stability of shadow economic practices in modern conditions.

Thus, the habit is a product of historical development and certain specific conditions of activity, acts precisely under the conditions that it generates. Therefore, the habit generates behaviors that are very well adapted to these conditions even without conscious search for adequate solutions and conscious adaptation efforts. In such adequate situations and conditions, the effect of the habit is not very noticeable. However, it becomes obvious if the habit is manifested in new, changed in comparison with the conditions that formed it. Here we have already worked on the example we have given with agents that were formed in Soviet conditions and are now compelled to adapt to new principles of the functioning of the economic field. Likewise, agents formed in the context of a particular social position retain their previous attitudes even when they manage to take a different position. That is why it is impossible to instantaneously turn the adventurist, "robber" capitalism and the "wild market". the era of initial accumulation in the "civilized" modern capitalism with its inherent legitimate ways of defining and realizing its interests.

Bourdieu points out that the relation of the habitus to the field is particularly complex, since the habit is determined precisely by this connection, but it determines the field in turn. In other words, the economic habit is both a product of the field of the economy and a condition that generates and maintains the field of the economy.

Thus, the habit not only represents the inertia of established practices, but, as a product of the experience of numerous repetitive, persistent situations, "provides practical mastery of uncertain situations and determines the attitude towards the future." This is not a rational project based on the calculation of risks, chances and opportunities, but the ability to see in reality the only acceptable way of acting and realize it. Gabitus realizes the connection between past experience and the future, because thanks to him, those conditions that are most adequate to habitus and contribute to the same incarnation and reproduction are embodied and embodied.

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