Methodological Principles and Practice
Positions and Position-Takings Among Political Producers:The Field of Political Consultants
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Positions and Position-Takings Among Political Producers: The Field of Political Consultants
Political consultants are an essential part of the American electoral process. Consultants shape every political message Americans hear in major elections, decide whether and how individuals will be contacted by campaigns, and create the ads flooding television and the internet as elections near. They also advise politicians once they attain elected offices, devise public relations and lobbying strategies for corporate clients, move in and out of the political party organizations, and serve as pundits and in other roles in the media. In other words, political consultants play key roles in the American field of power, producing much of the political culture experienced by ordinary Americans. This work takes its inspiration from Bourdieu’s descriptions of the political field and other fields of cultural production (Bourdieu 1991a, 1993b) as well as from other work on the properties of fields and their relevance for what is produced within them (Fligstein and McAdam 2011; Armstrong and Bernstein 2008).
In this chapter, I ask: is this indeed a field with structures that map onto those found in other fields? And do consultants’ opinions correspond to their positions in the field? I use a specific Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) and find the answer to be ‘yes’ to both questions.