European Transnational Social Fields and Identifications
3. Transnational social fields
The origins of social field theory have quite a long history. The notion of a field is nowadays widely associated with social phenomena, yet its roots go back to the natural sciences. Martin (2003) argued that Einstein’s theory of general relativity technically provided the natural sciences a field theory and inspired the initial considerations of fields in social sciences. In the light of social theories, three main directions progressed in the field theory (ibid.): the social-psychological theory associated most notably with Lewin (1951), the field theory of stratification or domination associated most notably with Bourdieu (1977), and the field theory of inter-organisation relations associated most notably with DiMaggio and Powel (1983).
In recent decades, interest in the concept of social fields has proliferated. According to Fligstein (2001, p. 230), there is an increased interest across various ‘new institutional theories’ which intend to explain “how social institutions, defined as rules that produce social interaction, come into existence, remain stable, and are transformed”. They focus on the construction of local social orders, which could be called ‘fields’, ‘arenas’, or ‘games’, and explores the relationship between actors and the social structures in which they are embedded. However, it has been argued that the new institutionalism has certain limitations regarding conceptualisations, which see fields as interactions between more and less powerful collective groups, while taking into account shared meanings and rules. In order to overcome those limitations, a more social, collective conception of action is needed (Fligstein 2001). Recently, an...
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