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Living Beyond the Nation

European Transnational Social Fields and Identifications

Tea Golob

The book provides key insights in experiencing lives and attitudes of the increasing number of people who reside beyond national boundaries and strategically create their life-paths. It is a brief but comprehensive introduction to the latest theoretical developments combining issues of reflexivity and habitus resulting in unique empirical and practical implications. Intended for the readers who are looking for a combination of scholarly insights and everyday life stories of the people living beyond the national constraints, no matter whether they are interested in contemporary social trends and their impact to individuals, ethnographic research, globalization trends or the future visions of the European Union.
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3. Transnational social fields

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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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