Creating a symbolic system within a field means to construct reality, which requires the internalization of structures so that the social actor may reflect it and this structure can be perceived or recognized by others. The process of mutual recognition of capital that takes place in respective fields is known as symbolic capital. When capital takes on meaning in a field it has a symbolic trait, hence symbolic capital. It’s the things that aren’t tangible such as status, prestige, and authority that social actors perceive as legitimate (Siisiäinen. 2000: 12-13). Bourdieu (1985: 17) states, “Those who occupy the dominated position within the social space are also located in dominated ...view middle of the document...
1979: 79). This power can be exercised economically, politically and socially as long as it is legitimized.
Application of Bourdieu’s theory to neoliberalism
Bourdieu (1979: 80) once said, “The dominant fractions, whose power is based on economic and political capital, seek to impose the legitimacy of their domination either through their own symbolic production (discourse, writings, etc) or through the intermediary of conservative ideologists who serve the interests of the dominant fractions”. These dominant fractions are neoliberal conservative think tanks planted in the western modern world organizations for policy making such as IMF, WTO and the World Bank. They impose neoliberal beliefs and practices upon developing nations in the name of globalization. These organizations and developing countries have a political relationship that is acknowledged by both parties, which is the basis that allows symbolic violence to take place. Their policies would be considered capital in this political field which how they control political capital and keep the dominant position. The monetary economic capital is controlled by the loans given to theses developing nations which in turn creates social polarization in these societies also controlled by these organization because they created new social structures and dependencies unfamiliar to those in history.
Bourdieu’s concept of doxa, which is, “an unquestionable orthodoxy that operates as if it were the objective truth – across social space in its entirety, from the practices and perceptions of individuals (at the level of habitus) to the practices and perceptions of the state and social groups (at the level of fields)”, is how neoliberals have presented globalization in order to practice symbolic power (Chopra. 2003: 421). Because doxa is accepted as true, it is simply taken for granted and never contested. In today’s economic discourse the notion exists that “globalization is inevitable”. For this reason, developing countries implement the neoliberal way of globalization instead of exploring other means of progress for their nation. Therefore, globalization is a euphemism for economic success (Siisiäinen. 2002: 21).
Bourdieu also mentioned how writings and language can be a tool when it comes to practicing symbolic power. Neoliberals had the language, claiming globalization to be “inevitable” and almost as self-prophecy the inevitable begins to happen (Bourdieu. 1979). The writings are used as justification or to legitimize the doxa. For example, the literature “What Washington Means by Policy Reform” by Williamson and “Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration” by Sachs and Warner’s, all of whom are well known intellectuals who carried out the study for the World Bank who has the authority in the economic and political discourses to make such an influence, represents how neoliberals have control over symbolic knowledge as well.
Williamson’s book was termed “Washington Consensus” in...