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Home arrow Sociology arrow Bourdieu and Social Movements: Ideological Struggles in the British Anti-Capitalist Movement

Conclusion

Bourdieu's theoretical technologies offer us a powerful framework with which to analyse collective action. In this chapter, I employed the concepts of field and capital to examine the political dynamics, interactions and relationships between three different mobilizations which occurred during the week of the G8 summit meetings in the UK, in 2005. In particular, I built on and extended a previous adaptation of Bourdieu's field concept - the 'protest field' (Crossley, 2002b). I argued that this adaptation of field allows us to examine the different agents and institutions which mobilize for and against global political summit meetings; these include the protesters, the police, the political institutions and the different social movement mobilizations.

However, this concept had not been empirically tested in terms of how Bourdieu conceives of a field, including the effect of the various types of capital that agents possess and mobilize, and how the different political collectives and their opponents interact. I found that, although the protest field concept helps to explain the political dynamics during such mobilizations, it cannot explain the ways in which the field is vulnerable to change. Moreover, I think the model I proposed in chapter 3 and utilized here separates out the necessary differences in politics between the anti-capitalist, alternative globalization and political fields. Further, that they sit within one another and agents and organizations enter each other's fields at various times.

The AGM field was the key site of struggle during these mobilizations and was explicitly ideological. Thus the aim of this game was to try and further one's politics. It is relatively newly formed and as such is in flux, which means it is not stable. During the G8 in 2005, elites used superior forms of capital to alter the balance between themselves and the AGM field, bringing the elites and a section of the AGM field closer together in terms of their political world view. The economic, cultural, social and symbolic capital of MPH overwhelmed the much smaller anti-capitalist mobilizations and, as such, the AGM field ceased to be an environment in which the latter could practise their politics. From the outset, the MPH mobilization was not about protesting against neoliberalism and, in some ways, it has been accused of supporting it. This relegated the more politically contentious anti-capitalist mobilizations to a smaller and less significant position within the newly formed AGM field. This was only temporary, however, since the MPH mobilization was a one-off event.

Through considering resources and their impact in an explicit way, I argue that fields can be transformed so that they operate with different political rules. This is something that has been neglected among Bourdieusian scholars; although the field is seen as a reflexive environment, it has not been argued that it can be transformed and reconstituted according to capital flows. Furthermore, Bourdieusian concepts have been under-used among social movement scholars. In this chapter I have shown that a reconsideration of the capital and field dynamic may benefit both social theorists and social movement scholars.

In chapter 7, we see the emergence of the next phase of anti-neoliberalism - the Occupy movement.

 
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