Bourdieusian Structural Constructivism and State Identity. Rethinking Economic and Social Capital in International Relations

Project Report, 2016

93 Pages

Free online reading




Distinction of a constructivist approach to economic capital
Bourdieusian distinction of economics
Sense of limit and sense of reality in neoliberal functionalization beyond modernity
Discussions on the neoliberal imagination of field
Neoliberalism and collectiveness of state identity

Background of the concept of social capital
Social capital recognition and the division of identities beyond social constructivism
Social capital and inequality between states in the international field
Social capital, stratification and hierarchy in the international field
Developing state and Third World concepts: dominant–dominated vision and division
Democratization as symbolic violence in the international field

Final implications




This research is based on an essential part of my PhD thesis awarded by Bielefeld University. More essentially, it presents a perspective which proposes a new theory-practice engagement in international relations. I tried to test the productivity of Bourdieusian conceptualisation in a more descriptive way. The existing approaches were interested in applicability of Bourdieu in international relations. Indeed, I had two main objectives when I tried to establish this research project. The primary objective of the book is to utilize Bourdieusian sociological research and terminology to improve our understanding regarding the formation and change of state identity. Secondly, I purpose to contribute to the existing constructivist understanding of state identity in line with Bourdieusian structural constructivism. In this way, the study theorizes that the state as a social entity – which is therefore subject to unconscious symbolic violence before it forms and embodies the physical understanding of fear and anarchy in the interactive processes of international relations.


Bourdieu has received a considerable amount of discussion of his illustration of how individuals form their entities in society and the way in which the socialization process pre-influences individuals’ unconscious characteristics (Bourdieu, 1987, 1990a, 1995b, 1996a). If we examine the state as a social actor in a wider social space, it is possible to illustrate same constraints and habitual influences on states’ identity. Bourdieu here helps to explain the state’s ontological presence and the production of conscious norms and rules in practice. The ontological presence of states is related to the pre-existence of habitus of accumulated history, which produces relevant social capital in international relations. Here, Bourdieusian perspective questions constructivist socially constructed state identity, because social construction in his sense is achieved by the existence of accumulated structural history in the agent’s identity (Bourdieu, 1991, 1994). Therefore, the Bourdieusian perspective theoretically helps this paper to manifest the mutual existence and function of structure and construction on the formation of state identity.

Existing international relations theories have not achieved a comprehensive explanation for the formation and change of political identity in international relations (Guzzini, 2000; Reus-Smit, 1999). The emergence of new cultural and sociological approaches in international relations indicates that neither structure nor ideation precedes the formation of state identity. In order to understand the presence of agency and identity in international relations it is more important to see the intertwined links of structures and ideas in cultural and social perspectives. By using a Bourdieusian study, I can show whether and how the identities of political subject/state are formed and transformed. Therefore, this study highlights the distinguishing tools of the Bourdieusian sociological approach, which refuses the methodological separation of ideas from structures.

Here, social sciences and anthropology are good sources to improve the constructivist normative approaches. I will move beyond methodological approaches regarding sovereignty and integration. In line with sociological references, this research considers states as living social organisms, with habitus, emotional reflex and embodied culture in a wider societal space. Similar to the individuals in society, states may have invisible structural constraints, which can be a pre-existent habitual embodiment of the state’s identity. Therefore, state consciousness of the production of norms can be related to the state’s habitual characteristics or the inadequacy of cultural accumulation, which affect the roles and positions in social relations. It is claimed here that the state as a social entity is subjected to predisposed habitual structural dispositions before it produces its identity into conscious socially constructed relations. In this respect, I depict the mutual and intertwined existence of unconscious historical structure and conscious normative productions into the composition of state identity.

As both descriptive and normative discussions touch upon norms, rules and institutions of international relations, this book will draw upon the constructivist theoretical approach which offers important insights to the subject and allows for a rich and dynamic social context.[1] Constructivists rely on not only the material world, but also ideational meanings and interpretations of the material world, because the material world is organized by means of human actions that are based on an ideational interpretation of the material world (Adler, 1997; Price & Reus-Smit, 1998). As Alexander Wendt explains, ‘material resources only acquire meaning for human action through the structure of shared knowledge in which they are embedded’ (Wendt, 1995, p. 73). This means that the world is not based on a static reality, but the reality is continually reconstructed by the identities, interests and ideations of political actors, which shape actions and interactions (Price & Reus-Smit, 1998). Thus, the norms are constituted and they change in accordance with the political actors’ interests, identity construction and interpretation of the material world.

In general, there are three fundamental assumptions of constructivism that help to understand the construction of state identity and its normative aspect: ideas and interpretations are important to understand the real world; interests and actions are determined by identities; and ‘agents and structures are mutually constituted’ (Price & Reus-Smit, 1998, pp. 266–267). Firstly, ‘ideas – understood more generally as collective knowledge, institutionalised in practices – are the medium and propellant of social action’ (Adler, 2005, p. 94). That is why this book examines the role and influence of ideas within the emerging norms of structures in international relations. In this respect, ideas are fundamental to understanding sovereignty, as the constitutive norms of modern world, and the material world where sovereignty practises (Reus-Smit, 2001b). In this aspect, ideas, interpretations and self-understanding are very important to understanding how norms and constructed identities are reproduced.

Secondly, as the project of modernity, state identity is seen as identical to the identity of the nation.[2] In line with the constructivist theorization, these national identities are not stabilized forms, but rather they are reproduced in accordance with the new interpretations and interests in new material environments. That is why, in contradiction with the rational theories,[3] there is no fixed international structure based on state sovereignty or an advanced institutional composition for agents (Reus-Smit, 2001c). National interests, institutional representations and structures are subject to change. Interests are the products of a certain material composition in which identities reproduce. This means that material changes result in changes within the state’s interests that mean a shift in the social preferences because ‘material facts acquire meaning only through human cognition and social interaction’ (Finnemore, 1996b, p. 6). In order to construct modern state identity, states have produced numerous boundaries and these boundaries are strengthened by concrete borders and the notion of nation (Biersteker & Weber, 1996). This means that the state produces and reproduces a fixed definition of nation in terms of internal and international boundaries in order to ‘distinguish a specific political community – the inside – from all others – the outside’ (Doty 1996, p. 122).[4] These boundaries are constructed by sovereignty, as a supreme internationally recognized norm, which is a definitive element of the whole structure. Without sovereign rights, the modern state never constitutes its legitimacy as the possessor of a certain national identity. Thus, representation of sovereignty is crucial to forming an objective reality on which the boundaries are constructed in order to legitimize the right of state sovereignty (Ashley & Walker, 1990). For example, in contemporary world, the modern state has been losing its legitimacy in some arenas such as humanitarian space. Thus, normative changes in international relations continually reinterpret and change the definition of political subjects and its identity construction.

Thirdly, ‘just as social structures are dependent upon and therefore constituted by the practices and self-understandings of agents, the causal powers and interests of those agents, are constituted and therefore explained by structures’ (Wendt, 1987, p. 359). Because of this mutual construction between structures and identities, norms vary, change and transform into new forms in accordance with interpretations and interests of agents.[5] As Katzenstein described,

The authors use the concept of norm to describe collective expectations for the proper behavior of actors with a given identity. In some situations norms operate like rules that define the identity of an actor, thus having ‘constitutive effects’ that specify what actions will cause relevant others to recognize a particular identity. In other situations norms operate as standards that specify the proper enactment of an already defined identity. In such instances norms have ‘regulative’ effects that specify standards of proper behaviour. Norms thus either define (or constitute) identities or prescribe (or regulate) behavior, or they do both. (Katzenstein, 1996, p. 5)

The modern state constituted its identity by way of monopolizing some functions of structure, and it regulated behaviours by means of these monopolizations. In order to construct national identity, the modern state firstly eliminated other centres of violence and constructed its monopoly of violence as an internationally recognized norm (Thomson, 1994). Besides this, it had the right of taxation in order to establish a bureaucracy and armies (Linklater, 1996), which are operational functions of states used to construct conscious interactions with other states on the bases of a definitive rule of sovereignty. Thirdly, the state has a monopolistic role to define political identity, social separation and otherness. Lastly, the state monopolizes the legal borders of its society by way of the law (Ibid.).

The constructivist theoretical positions also characterize changes of social structures beyond materialist structural repetition. According to the constructivist theorization, ‘social structures have three elements: material resources, shared knowledge, and practices’ (Wendt, 1995, p. 73). Power was originally considered a product of the modern state’s physical capacity, but modes of information have become the most important elements of power consideration (Ibid.). As a result, the modern state identity is defined by a ‘bifurcation in which the state-centric system now coexist with an equally powerful, though more decentralised, multi-centric system’ (Rosenau, 1990, p. 11), which gets it free from classical definitions of interests, anarchy, borders and the sovereignty of rationalism. Besides this, the classical relation between territoriality and political subject/state is changing in accordance with normative changes in the definition of sovereign subjects. For example, ‘the right to environmental protection … requires the action of institutions that transcend the nation states, which are incapable of effectively guaranteeing them’ (Rocco & Selgas, 2006, p. 146). In this respect, the ‘transnationalisation of life … requires the use of means that go beyond the national state … [therefore] environmental rights cannot be understood outside a transnational context’ (Ibid, p. 145).

More essentially, in the constructivist agenda, the ‘identities, interests and behaviour of political agents are socially constructed by collective meanings and interpretations and assumptions about the world’ (Adler, 1997, p. 324). Therefore, in order to understand how identity is constructed, norms are the fundamental elements to research. The modern nation state system is based on a fundamental norm called sovereignty (Reus-Smit, 1997). Sovereignty depends on recognition within determined concrete borders, which are governed by a totalized notion called nation. Institutions are based on defined norms and principles in which the identity of a particular institution is rooted (Reus-Smit, 1999). Norms do not only define and legitimate the institutions, but they also define the rightful actions of institutions (Ibid.). Thus, there is no certain rational principle to idealize the nation state and its totalizing identity. In this respect, every identity creates its own structure and actors in line with a defined set of rules and norms.

Contrary to the realist and rationalist theorization, identity creation seeks to reproduce and transform the structures (Wendt, 1994) from the early point of the modern state to the contemporary world. In particular, the construction of identity can be originated from domestic or international society (Ibid.). However, according to the constructivist approach it is not persuasive to seek a concrete difference between internal and international identity creation. Thus, the state’s identity and interests are created and transformed in line with the corporate coexistence and influence of internal and international structures. In the early period of the modern state, as the dichotomy between the internal and international increased, the identity creation of the state gradually became an exclusionary process (Linklater, 1998). Historically, formations of norms and identity have always had a totalizing character that wants to include and transform all the actors of the system. In this way, the identity and constitutional norms of the system have been transformed in accordance with the expectations of the state system in the modern state era. Firstly, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Christian community, which was based on heterogenic and disorganized institutions, gradually transformed into the sovereign rights of monarch and its unity. The main institutional basis of this transformation was achieved by the Treaty of Westphalia, which determined the fundamental norms of the state system (Inayatullah & Blaney, 2004). In this way, the non-intervention of sovereign states became a fundamental norm of the state system. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the absolutist rights of monarchs were replaced by the positivist rights of the nation and the homogenous nation-state identity (Reus-Smit, 1997). The formation of identity gradually created a new set of norms regarding sovereignty and recognition. The recognition of national borders and the absolute control of nations within their borders became fundamental rules of the nation state system. Although the provision of the Wien Conference tried to defend the status quo, the institutions inevitably complied with the norms of state sovereignty and identity of the nation state. In this way, the interests of nation states became more important than anything else. In the same way, in the first period of the twentieth century, the institutional improvements were in accordance with the nation state system of sovereignty. The principle of self-determination was a concrete implementation of the norms and identities of the sovereign nation state system. Interestingly, although some normative and humanitarian improvements, such as the Hague codifications and the abolition of slavery, were carried out, nation state identity was still determined and strong in that historical period. That is why the state still had the unrestricted right to decide how it behaved towards its citizens in the early twentieth century.[6]

In this book, I move away from the existing study of international political economy in order to consider the economic field via a Bourdieusian study of economic capital. Drawing on the contemporary constructivist engagement of international political economy, I argue that Bourdieusian structural constructivism can improve the existing understanding of constructivist political economy in international relations. Therefore, my arguments here focus on the similarities of the Bourdieusian and constructivist understandings of political economy and the distinction of the Bourdieusian economic field beyond the constructivist economy. I firstly rely on the constructivist perspective, which sees the economic field as a result of the creation processes of social engagements. Thus, constructivists do not theorize any rationality. Rather, the economic field depends on a collective understanding of relations. As a result, I argue that interpretations of the economic field in constructivist political economy are as important as the factual objective data of the economy. In line with this, I discuss a constructivist understanding of agency in accordance with political capital. Constructivism thinks that agents are not simple implementers of objective interests which are defined beyond their own ideas and identities. Rather, agents are active creators of their interests in accordance with their knowledge of interactions. Following this, I develop my claims on a distinction of the Bourdieusian economic field. I firstly discuss why Bourdieu questions the interactionist emphasis of economic capital. He claims that the structured existence of accumulated history always influences the institutionalization of economic capital. Then I discuss how Bourdieu understands norms distinctively beyond social construction. In this way, I consider the habitual tendencies of agents within the political field of international relations. In line with Bourdieu, I argue that embedded form of culture is an inseparable part of the economic field, which imposes the effects of structured structures onto the identity of states. Indeed, I discuss how embedded subjective capital and its culture produce doxic reflexes from agents or states. And, finally, Bourdieusian economic capital questions interpretations of agents because the habitus of agents impairs the subjectivity of agents on their thoughts.

Then I turn to considering the conceptual side of economic field via neoliberalism. I start by considering how self-limitation and a sense of reality are produced in the economic field. In this way, my main objective is to illustrate how neoliberalism changes the sense of limit in modern state identity and how it produces new realities which are objectified by the institutionalization of neoliberal economic capital. I critically engage the changing vision and division of neoliberalism, which transform the stratification of political subjectivity in international relations. Then I exemplify this transformation of neoliberal policies via an objective institutional observation of the international political field. Following this, I consider how neoliberalism changes territoriality understanding of modernity. Firstly, I give relevant discussions on the topic, such as homogenization, glocalization[7] and hybridization, which consider how neoliberal expansion conceptualizes the economic field. In line with Bourdieu, I provide an alternative understanding of neoliberalism and territoriality understanding based on a re-collectivization of the political subject beyond a modern understanding of territoriality. Lastly, I conclude this part with discussions on how neoliberalism impairs existing states’ collective borders and identities. The social side of states’ modern collectiveness is seen as the otherness of neoliberalism. Therefore, neoliberalism firstly impairs social democracy understanding of modernity.

In second stage of the book, I introduce what social capital is and explain how I can apply social capital in international relations. I begin with an introductory summary of the concept of social capital because social capital is explained in distinctive ways within social sciences. In specifically engaging with a constructivist understanding of social capital, I try to rethink what social agents struggle to achieve in order to gain legitimacy within the field of collectiveness. Then I apply a Bourdieusian conceptualization of agency in order to understand how agents produce their sense of belonging in the common field of practice. These explanations are followed by considerations of how Bourdieusian social capital creates a distinction to identify the political identities of states within the international field. In this way, I try to find out how Bourdieu is distinguished from a constructivist understanding of identity construction in international relations. I discuss the roles of habitus beyond conscious ideas and ideologies. I note that having an identity inevitably imposes a certain vision and division within the field, but the motivation of agents regarding the demand for legitimacy creates a misrecognition regarding the self-categorizing function of identity construction. In this way, I presuppose that the state is a social entity which has its own characteristics and personality. Following this supposition, I discuss the inequality of social capital distribution among the states, and the functionalization of social capital as a set of obligations for recognition.

In the remaining parts of the book, I indicate further descriptive research on social capital and state identity relations. I focus in detail on how social capital functions as a producer of inequality between the theoretically equal identities of states. Here I note that there is a positive correlation between the accumulation of social capital and the stabilization of denomination in the field. In this way, I indicate that social capital is a value which creates stratified forms of positions in field. These differentiated forms of positions guarantee the domination because dominated identities of states define their positions in accordance with positions of domination. I then examine the potential of Bourdieusian social capital in international relations via the developing state concept. Essentially, I research how developing state identities and positions are defined in the international field. I focus on the advancement of developing states regarding the accumulation of social capital because it shows the links between a lack of social capital and the definition of positions within the international field. Finally, I discuss how a lack of social capital weakens the networking qualification of developing states in international relations. Indeed, I discuss how legitimacy becomes the battlefield of domination which constitutes the characteristics of recognized subjectivity in international relations. In this way, I consider democratization in order to practise the findings of the chapters regarding cultural capital in international relations. With reference to the democratization processes in the developing world, I argued that democratization processes ‘can create zones of ungovernability ’ that impairs transformation of political identities. (Grande & Pauly, 2005, p. 296).


The structure of this part is to critically find out the similarities and distinctions of constructivists and the Bourdieusian perspective regarding economics in international relations. By doing this, I aim to figure out state identity and its positional distribution in international relations by way of the Bourdieusian structural contribution within the socially constructive theorizing of the economic field. The constructivist tradition provides scholars with relevant theoretical means to criticize and overcome the materialist domination of realities in the field of international economics (Finnemore & Sikkink, 2001; Ruggie, 1998; Abdelal, 2009). Essentially, Bourdieu, whose research targeted the anthropological and sociological roots of economic fields in the practices of economic agents, takes advantage of social construction when he conceptualizes the economic preferences of agents in the structure of the economic field (Bourdieu, 2005). Although Bourdieusian anthropologic and sociologic research does not aim to explain the economy in the frame of politics, the inferences and approaches of the economy by both Bourdieu and the constructivists in international relations are in line with each other. However, by engaging with the embedded structures of domination, Bourdieu enhances further relevant discussion on the production of collective dispositions and identities in the economic field (Kauppi, 2003). In this respect, firstly, this part will summarize the similar directions of economic theorization in constructivist international political economy with constructivist side of Bourdieusian economic capital. Then, I will examine Bourdieusian distinction from structural constructivism regarding the economic field beyond the constructivist economy in international relations. By doing this, I will try to disclose how we can locate state identity as political agency in the economic capital of the international political field.

Distinction of a constructivist approach to economic capital

Social constructivism conceptualizes a considerable contribution for the field of economics in international relations by theorizing the inter-subjective products of political subjects, which impairs the materialist rationalist domination of economics (Abdelal, 2009). It discovers the intertwined links between the social and institutionalized realities of the international economy. Constructivists focus on a conceptual perspective beyond the material facts of the economy in international relations because the material facts cannot explain the realities of structures which are linked to the ideational, inter-subjective and social bases of economic relations. More precisely, the rationality of the materialist economy explains realities which do not illustrate the facts of practices in the international economy. Social constructivism rejects the reductionist rational perspective of the economy because it theorizes that ideas regarding economic realities are constructed by a collectivized interpretation of agents in the process of inter-subjective relations. In a similar way with constructivist conceptualization, Bourdieu emphasizes that the economic field can be understood by its social engagements. From a Bourdieusian point of view, the agents’ economic field is socially constructed (Bourdieu, 2005). As a result of these socially constructed dispositions, agents do not spontaneously produce meanings in accordance with an objective logic of structure.

One of the most visible peculiarities in the Bourdieusian and constructivist international political economy theorization is related to the gap between the economic facts of rationalism and social practices. The constructivist perspective questions the compatibility of rationalized economic facts with the realities of international political economics (Abdelal, 2009). At this point, constructivism emphasizes that all rationalization of economic apparatus actually depends on the relational practices of agents, which depict a socially constructed embodiment of collective understanding (Tuomela & Balzer, 2002). In line with this constructivist theorization, relying on the quantitative data of economic calculation produces some applicable facts for agents but these mislead the reductionism of a rationalized ontology.[8] Indeed, many tools of economics, such as the annual economic growth index, expected inflation and global prices, describe to some extent the facts, but these facts are mostly not compatible with the practical realities, which are contrary to a rationalist international economy theorization. For instance, the facts with regards to the expected inflation of an economy vary in accordance with the prices of products or services which are considered in the accounting of inflation. In order to come to this rationalist ontology, constructivists conceptualize that quantitative facts and the products of economics in international relations only indicate identities on the basis of agents’ beliefs and ideas. Therefore, the proposals and scope of economic facts generally embody social identities. Actors in an international economic space do not necessarily have a required set of rational behaviours, but the ideas and beliefs in socially constructed identities supply an appropriate collective understanding which limits their economic behaviours in a certain way without rational engagement. Basically, it is possible to see similarities in the tendencies regarding the facts and economic realities in a Bourdieusian approach of economy. Bourdieu evaluates that the factual bases of economic actions generally rely on ‘empirically established statistical correspondence between dispositions and positions’ (Bourdieu, 2005, p. 215), which conducts agents’ tendencies in line with the objective possibilities of the economy. In this way, the practical facts of the economy do not necessarily need to be compatible with the social realities of the objective world, but these need to dominate agents’ inter-subjective expectations, which must create a collective understanding of the possibilities regarding the objective structures of the economy.

Another important peculiarity of a constructivist economic approach is to reveal that the interpretation of economic objective structures is as important as the empirical facts of the economy in international relations. Thus, objective facts are perceived in different forms in accordance with the interpretations of agents (Klotz & Lynch, 2007). This approach opens up an opportunity to go beyond the reason–result objectivity in international politics. Interpretations question both the validity of single reasoning and the results in the economic field. At this point, the constructivist economic approach values two essential factors which do not fully depend on the factual objectivity of the international field. It firstly considers the productivity of the inter-subjective interactions of agents in the economic field (Seabrooke, 2007). Further, it bears in mind that the historical accumulation of knowledge affects the economic inter-subjective productions of agents (O’Brien & Williams, 2013). Agents mostly depend on their interpretations when they establish practical actions on the basis of economic facts. Despite Bourdieusian suspicion on the extreme emphasizing of agents’ interpretations (Bourdieu, 2005), his thoughts on the economy resemble a constructivist understanding of the inter-subjective production of economic actions. In particular, the Bourdieusian stress on habitus and economic action relation asserts that the inter-subjective ideational production of agent establishes links between socially constituted ideas and structures of the economy (Lebaron, 2002). The dispositions of agents embody the same economic facts in various ways in accordance with their positional engagements of objective structures. Economic actions originate from the dispositions of subjects and their positions in objective relations. Therefore, the economic field is deeply rooted in the historical accumulation and produced dispositions of different positional distributions in objective relations. The dispositional interpretation of states regarding their positions in the economic globalization is a good example of this approach. States’ ideations of their positions differ beyond the reason–result facts of their economies. For instance, the American interpretation of economic globalization can vary, from the cheap prices of cheap production in developing states to a high unemployment risk from production outside the USA. As a result, economic reasoning and facts are not generally compatible with agents’ production of dispositions.

In line with the explanations above, constructivist economic approaches contradict the passive positions of agents in economic actions. Economic actions are organized by the embodied values of agents beyond concrete facts in the economic field (Abdelal, 2001). Although economic facts persuade clear facts for agents, these facts generally exclude the positional distributions of the identities of agents in the political field. A constructivist economy in the international field not only objects to the static reason–result relation of agents regarding economic facts, but it also improves agents’ positional values and inter-subjective dispositions in the economic field. Therefore, the constructivist economy evaluates agents as dynamic actors who perform economic relations in accordance with their beliefs and identities. In other words, agents’ ideas, which originated from their constructed positional identities, depend considerably on their dispositions (Palan, 2013). In this way, the interests of agents in the economic field explain the socially constructed nature beyond the structural deterministic nature of economic agents. In the constructivist economic approach, agents gain autonomous roles in defining their ideas and values. This autonomy improves the importance of human interactions and interpretations regarding their ideations and practices. Economic ideations are reproduced practices which originated from the socialization of agents’ experiences into the interaction processes. In this way, agents become active elements of economic reproduction in the construction of mutually represented realities. Interestingly, although Bourdieu highlights structural interferences in the habitual representation of agency, he does not exclude the externalization of agents’ unique capacities in the economic field. Social structures influence agents via the scarcity or abundance of economic capital in agents’ capital allocations. These influences create distinctive economic roles which distribute the positions of agents in the international economic field. Consequently, agents of the economic field internalize economic distribution in habitus over time, but also externalize economic actions in the social relationships of the field. An internalized structure is always followed by a structuring process of externalization in which outcomes are not determined. Therefore, agents in the economic field are for Bourdieu simultaneously structuring beings who take advantage of positional strategies in order to struggle for the allocation of economic resources. In short, agents are not static representatives of certain rationality, but they are dynamic actors of potential changes and differentiation via struggles on externalization in their positional distribution in the economic field (Bourdieu, 1995a).

Constructivist international political economy also develops a distinctive understanding of how to understand interests derived from the ideas of economic agents despite their material or factual representations in the objective world (Risse & Wiener, 1999). Classical rational politics rests on the struggle over certain determined economic interests among the actors. In this understanding, structures embody determined and clear interests which produce similar strategies to realize expected outcomes in economics. From a classical rational perspective of economics in the international field, agents are fully informed and motivated with regard to the potential ways of successful engagement with economic tools. They know how to deal with potential economic hardship, and act in accordance with the potential outcomes of certain economic behaviours. At this point, uncertainty in economic production/reproduction is taken into account by the constructivist ideation of the international economy (Shelton, 2015). Agents’ ideas, values and identities are not factual productions, but they are subject to change over time. The changing nature of ideas and identities affects to reach a possible standard of rational outcomes in economics. In other words, ideas and values impair any certainty in economics because actors produce their economic behaviours in line with their identities, which leads to different outcomes in the same economic issues in the international economy. Constructivists show that the motivational force behind the interests of agents supports uncertainty in economic actions, because economics depends on non-materialistic tools which require agents’ individualistic ideations of economic consideration in the international field.

In line with the considerable emphasis on the inter-subjective characteristics in the production and reproduction of actions, constructivist economics embodies the importance of produced norms in the international field (Seabrooke, 2007). Agents’ beliefs and ideas on economic interests are constructed in an inter-subjective environment. Due to the social construction of economic norms between agents, uncertainty in the non-materialist presence of economic factors leads to instability and crisis. The economic actions of agents are restricted by inter-subjective understandings of similar situations in the economics of the international field. The objective factors of economic reality are substituted by collective interpretations of actors. Therefore, constructivist economics embodies non-materialistic factors of economy beyond materiality, but, owing to the existence of norms, the uncertainty of non-materialistic inclusion in economics results in stability. At the same time, these norms are not identical to the legal rules of the international field of economics even though legal rules may support a normative constitution in international economics. In this way, agents, having different ideational bases, ideas and identities, obey the informal inter-subjective presences of norms and, therefore, norms lead to inter-subjective stability in the production interests and appropriate actions for produced economic interests in the4 international field.

Bourdieusian distinction of economics

A potential distinction in the Bourdieusian interpretation of economics is to position interactions and inter-subjective relations in economic consideration. Interactions are based on the existence of a cause and effect relation in the practical world of agents. In this way, agents are firstly theorized as self-conscious entities. Besides this, the conscious actions of agents are thought to produce effective results regarding the productions of other agents in the same economic field. By ignoring such an interactionist approach, Bourdieusian economics takes into account structural embedded history, independent from the interactive intervention of agents (Bourdieu, 2005). In accordance with this, objective economic relations are possible before agents construct conscious relations. Objectivity is subject to the existence of a history of actions which links the dispositions of agents into the economic field beyond the consciousness of any inter-subjective production of agents. To assign excessive meaning to interactions rules out the practices of agents, consisting of the non-interactive processes of accumulated history. Having a certain social position or amount of accumulated capital characterizes agents’ identities and economic dispositions, which define their preferences in economic capital in accordance with the dispositional legitimacy of accumulated history (Ibid.; Bourdieu, 2000). Being in a certain position in the economic field results in the production of identical histories for different agents in the same economic field. Similar histories produce homologous dispositions and actions in the economics field, and they are subject to dispositional legitimacy in the distribution of positions and capital. Having a certain social position and capital accumulation in economics is predetermined by resembling histories before agents interact their dispositions into the practical constraints of the economic field. The distribution of economic capital in different positions develops out of unconscious legitimate similar histories, which are the objective relations beyond interactions. In this respect, interactions are social trajectories which enhance the struggles against embedded legitimate history because interactions create potential redistributions in the economic field in opposition to the existing legitimacy of history. As a result, agents’ objective relations resembling histories characterize economic actions before interactions construct conscious struggles between the competing agents in the economic field.

Interactions apprehend the structuring characteristics of economic capital, but they trivialize the structured forces that produce agents. Structured historical accumulation produces agents who produce and reproduce the ‘objective relations’[9] of economic actions in accordance with their structured distinctions. Bourdieu’s objective relations are distinct from interactions because they are based on the positional distribution of agents, which objectifies the achieved amount of economic capital. The positional distribution of agents unconsciously relies on structured structures. Cognitive actions in the economic field embody structured structures which represent differences in the positional distributions of agents. By occupying a social position in the field, agents characterize their economic ideations before they produce their interactions. The occupied positional distribution imposes bodily experiences of differences (Bourdieu, 1986). These bodily experiences are the product of symbolic struggles of history which agents embody without consciously constructing structuring structures of interactions. In this respect, states, as political agents of economic capital in the international field, are subject to structured objective relations in accordance with their positions. Indeed, the positional distribution inevitably makes agents internalize different logics of structure before agents engage with the conscious interactions of economic capital. Objective relations are not reducible to interactions at any stage of historical accumulation. In this respect, the political identities of states can be defined in many different ways, but structured structures in which states survive impose certain languages and dispositions for agents. Today, independently of economic systems in the international arena, every state is guided by the language of neoliberal economics because the embodied social body of the state produces neoliberalism as the indicators of economic differences and hierarchies. In another words, states’ positions in the international political economy are defined by the existing structured accumulation of history before they make a practice of different positions by way of economic interactions in international relations. Thus, the state is dominated by a definition of neoliberal identifications because their structured dispositions provide positions which are created by the neoliberal distribution of differences in economics.

In line with the Bourdieusian resistance of interactionism, it is plausible to say that Bourdieusian study acts with suspicion towards the central productive roles of norms in constructivist economy ideation. The constitutive role of norms in Bourdieusian study is substituted by the tendencies of habitus, which are objectified by the actions of agents in interactive processes. The tendencies of habitus are always found as deposited forms in agents (Shotwell, 2011). In this way, agents behave in accordance with convergent dispositions, labelling their differentiation and power in the positional distribution of identities. Although economic capital is irreducible to conscious interactions, it is not fully independent from these interactions. The economic decisions and actions of agents are subject simultaneously to a combination of the unconscious embodiment of structures and the interactive representation of objective conditions. Dispositions, leading to production of economic decisions, rely on the embodied differentiation of positions, which is reproduced by agents’ relational conscious processes (Bourdieu, 2005). Existing social bodies influence agents’ dispositions and, therefore, agents produce differences before conscious interactions take place in a field. Convergent experiences of historical accumulation lead to similar beliefs, which are independent from the productivity of interactive processes, relying on the existence of norms. Thus, in order to describe the unconscious embodiment of dispositions, Bourdieu illustrates the inclusionary roles of doxa in comparison with norms. Doxa unconsciously imposes a common sense of structural divisions, which socially legalizes the unequal positional distributions before agents construct interactive processes of economization. Rarely for constructivist norms, doxa are structurally taken for granted and subjectively describe the accumulated amount of economic capital in the international field. In the international field, doxa influences states’ economic decisions and cooperations before states consciously discuss their bilateral and multilateral economic actions.

An important distinction of Bourdieu in economics is the study of culture as an inseparable part of economics. Bourdieu is actually innovative in rethinking whether the distribution of economic capital originally centres upon constitutive objective processes. Indeed, the distribution of economic capital fundamentally emerges from subjective cultural characteristics. As discussed above, doxa forms a taken-for-granted common reflex for agents (Deer, 2014). Agents in the same field inevitably become parts of a common reflex, determining the positions of agents in field (Lainé, 2014). However, the language of common reflex also defines the degree of contrariety between cultural characteristics and economic capital. More precisely, doxa subjectively enforces agents to define their objective positions and differences via certain definitive reflexes. The degree of compatibility between these definitive doxic reflexes and cultural structures indicates an objective advancement in positional distribution and economic capital allocation for states in the international field. In particular, Bourdieu’s early empirical research illustrates that capitalism, as the means of the divisions and economic differences of accumulated history, influences every individual member and class of the field (Bourdieu, 2012). Although the dispositions of agents define their objective positions and relations via capitalism, the subjective cultural habitus of culturally disadvantaged agents in the hierarchy does not contain cultural subjective dispositions, according to the doxic reflexes of capitalism (Bourdieu, 1987). In the field of international relations, these implications of Bourdieusian study suggest to us that the obtaining and maintaining of a better hierarchical position in the embodiment of economic capital do not depend on objective advancement in materialist relations and accumulations. To the contrary, hierarchically better-positioned agents should save their monopolistic roles in cultural attitudes, which create a distinction in the practical experience of economic relations. In other words, states, having a suitable cultural habitus for the doxic reflexes of capitalism, always maintain their hierarchical advancement over culturally less-advantaged states. Today, all states define their identities and positions according to the capitalist system of vision and division. However, only some of them have the cultural altitudes of capitalist production in order to produce appropriate dispositions regarding economic actions in the field. In other words, states definitely struggle under the rules of capitalist production, but some of these states are able to have capacity regarding appropriate capitalist economic culture in order to reproduce differences and distinctions in state identities. Therefore, the possession of physical economical capital is less important than possession of capitalism’s symbolic disposition because possession of appropriate capitalist dispositions lead to control over the hierarchy of competing positions in international relations through domination of the methods of classification in a capitalist system. In this way, in the identities of states, having a high GDP or economic resources is not always classified with a higher position in the hierarchy of competing positions in the international field. Even a considerable increase in capitalist productions, as experienced in China, does not comparatively increase the relative political value of state identity in international relations. China in practice becomes a part of the doxic norms and hierarchy in which classificatory means are designed and produced by the European and Anglo-Saxon puritan culture of capitalism. Besides this, states, having classificatory means of capitalist doxic reflexes, can also reproduce identity in struggling positions of hierarchy even after great economic catastrophes, such as Germany experienced after the Second World War. As a result of this, in order to differ from the capitalist distribution of hierarchy in state identities in international relations, states have to reproduce distinctive ways regarding the classification of the means of capitalism and its doxic reflexes beyond the physical means and capacities of economic capital.

The other significant distinction of Bourdieusian economics is derived from its structural constructivist approach to the field. Bourdieu not only relies on the delegation or social construction of structures but also emphasizes that the dispositions of agents are constituted by accumulated history (Kauppi, 2005). Agents produce economic habitus, which is independent from their conscious interactions. In this respect, beyond any material distribution of social interactions, economic structures depend on vision and division capacities, which lead to domination over the classification characteristics of accumulated history. The accumulated history of economic capital results in a similar economic habitus, where classificatory identification is subjectively dominated by certain agents (Bourdieu, 2013). Accumulated history indicates the role of the existing field regarding the tendencies of actions in practice. In this way, Bourdieu emphasizes that interactions and exchanges between agents do not explain whole infrastructure of economic capital, but the field, as the practical arena of structure, should be taken into account in order to understand historical nature in socially constructed interactions. As a result, states in the international field have determined positions according to historically accumulated economic culture before they campaign for the exchange processes of the international economy. The international economic field is always embedded in a certain economic culture, producing habitus that defines which states indirectly decide and impose the economic strategy of other states. The economic habitus of states is not a rational or interactional phenomenon, but it represents the cultural accumulation of states into the economic realities of the international field. Therefore, reproduction or change of economic capital is derived not only from interactional production in economic relations of states, but also from the dispositions of economic culture. Consequently, economic capital is fundamentally subject to symbolic productions which link the social realities of the field into positional distributions of state identity in international economics. In line with this explanation, it is plausible to say that economic habitus after the 2000s is not compatible with the economic realities of neoliberal culture. For instance, contrary to the theorization of economic construction, economic capital did not result in any significant change from the identification of Chinese identity in international relations, but it changed the symbolical economic habitus of China in accordance with the neoliberal culture of accumulated history. Neoliberalism represents the accumulated history of economic culture, which influences China’s dispositions to impose economic norms. China does not rationally define its economic habitus, but it reproduces its economic dispositions in order to produce reasonable strategies as ‘economic reason’ against the realities of the international field. In this way, China embodies the collective history of the economy into its individual history because the embodiment of objective structures leads to the social structuration of neoliberalism into the economic habitus of states. As a result of Bourdieusian study, it can be said that economic capital in the international field is embedded in symbolic exchanges, and states produce dispositions which create reasonable strategies rather than totally conscious rational actions. On this point, I will examine the concept of neoliberalism in accordance with Bourdieusian study in the following section.

Sense of limit and sense of reality in neoliberal functionalization beyond modernity

The subsequent widening of the gap between recognized realities and misrecognized senses is considerably stimulated by neoliberal policies which aim at changes in the identities and political agents of states. Through a Bourdieusian lens, I will go beyond the classical international relations discussions on the institutional achievements and the market organization creating channels for multiple gains (Keohane, 2002; Liberman, 1996) or its fractions as commercial and democratic peace theorization (Mitchell, 2012; Doyle, 2005). Here, I will mostly rethink neoliberalism in terms of Bourdieu’s agency–structure engagements. I try to achieve a critical approach to the understanding of globalization and neoliberal economics with regards to social distribution regarding the redistribution of wealth, rights and the class structure of neoliberalism. In this respect, events and changes occurring in the contemporary world have brought into question neoliberalism and its spatial bearer of the globalizing world. Neoliberalism has been developing in line with the disengagement of modern state identities, with the propose of gaining an advanced domination of objective realities, and designing the fall of existing state identity in a new social stratification, or constructing a new identification of power allocation on the basis of a globalizing arbitrariness. The basis of neoliberalism is the construction of a new naturalization, and specifically how the new naturalization is being reproduced in line with the characterization of political identity. By looking at this given structure, neoliberalism is seen as an answer to the representative sense of limit for agents because it answers many questioning points of the political identities from classification and boundaries to collectiveness and distribution in economic life in a new improving social stratification. Therefore, it is important to see how neutralization is constructed by the theorization of neoliberalism.

In the first place, neoliberalism dissociates economy from all existing social realities (Bourdieu, 2002). It firstly tries to change the meanings and visions of social stratification in the subjective world of the agents. When neoliberalism changes these meanings, it benefits from two important steps. Institutionally, the economy and state boundaries become dissembled. Secondly, the agents are being attached to more inclusive economic borders beyond state identity (Scholte, 2005). The first mechanism affects the distribution of wealth globally because it changes the conditions for the allocation, sharing, production and consumption of capital on a global scale. The second mechanism affects the social stratification on a global scale because it creates new opportunities, spaces and social roles for the existing political orientation of state identity. These two mechanisms are the answers to the perceived inability of state identities to offer a useful theoretical neutralization which relies on globalization. However, under the favour of the globalizing world and its redistribution of institutions and agents, neoliberalism reinforces the deliberate realities of globalization in line with the creation of its political identification of actors. Unlike the state-centred economy, neoliberalism creates new codes, institutions and social classes, maintaining that state collectiveness is not sufficiently appropriate to the global materialization.

In line with social stratification, neolibearlism has been creating another collective sense of limit, or a ‘systemic feature of advanced capitalism’ (Sassen, 2011, pp. 22–23), whose borders and distribution are broader than conventional nation states’ identities. However, neoliberalism is not the sum of systemic objective metaphors and no one can predict whether it has reached an advanced peak of capitalism. Neoliberalism is a new challenge of the existing social and subjective stratification. In order to affect the existing dominant social stratification, neoliberalism produces potential ways to engage. Firstly, the new identities and their social stratification give more optimistic or desirable hopes and opportunities for the future. Secondly, they make the border of existing state identity unworkable, nonfunctional, inoperable, inhabitable, incapacitate and unrecognizable for the interests of the new global collectiveness. These two functions were originally governed by the boundaries of modern states. Originally, states both provided the whole social good for individuals and their social classes, and constituted a sense of limit, to say that the international arena is anarchical and uninhabitable without state borders. Now neoliberalism theoretically provides these two functions both influentially and spontaneously.

Neoliberal functionalization is seen in many areas of economy, from production to distribution and social sharing. The new instrumentality of state identity reinterprets the distribution of production, labour, capital and wealth. Neoliberalism relocates production procedures in a borderless understanding of globalization. Formerly, everyone engaged the production procedures in order to increase the national welfare as much as their own wealth. However, new production procedures are not interested in any moral duty concerning a rise in the national wealth. Because of weakening national moral ties and identities, individuals do not consider the long-term national profits of these production procedures because habitual limitation given by state identity does not concretively constitute political collectiveness any more. This process is nothing short of the instrumentalization of state identity in accordance with the new reformation of political collectivity (Finger, 2002). In accordance with this, images of products are becoming more important than the nationality of products and, therefore, individuals unconsciously pay ‘image fees’ for the new products of globalization (Veseth, 1998). These image fees are related to a sense of limitation and the new construction of neoliberal social stratification. They actualize invisible limitation in order to symbolize/emblematize certain products as the labels of certain nobility. Neoliberalism marks products by invisibly stratified class codes and that is why the usage of certain products shows which class of the new social stratification an individual is included in. In other words, social stratification cannot be formulated by nationalistic nobility and role in production. Rather, it constructs its sense of limitation by way of the products which an individual can continually use and reach.

Global capital apparently causes many controversial issues in the globalizing market, such as working conditions, working hours and lack of social insurance (Ibid.), but there is no objective responsible to impeach because the new political power does not necessarily accommodate in a certain territorial border. Contrary to state identity, a power understanding of the new social stratification never directly engages the governance procedures of any political authority. It just has very developed lobbying and information and pressure mechanisms by which the state is forced to regulate coercively in the labour market. In this way, the classical definition of state identity is under attack by a new sense of limit because neoliberalism is free from the political pressure and condemnation of internal classes of states. It is an ‘invisible hand’ for conventional state authority because national state identities lose the capacity to produce a sense of limit and, therefore, national stratification becomes a sub-assembly of global stratification. The dominants of social stratification control the new social collectiveness by way of a distinctive rational consideration in comparison with an irrational, ethnic and ontological consideration of the states. The state’s political identity becomes less connected to the localities and ‘more fluid – less fixed static node and more and assemblage of flows’ (Short, 2001, p. 175). In practice, this is mostly supported by transparency and the domination of knowledge. Knowledge cannot be controlled by the nation state identities but mostly implies the common values, tastes and expectations of humanity, which implies a new normative transformation in the international field. In order to defend their identities, states should emphasize the differences from each other but, contrary to this, neoliberalism mostly indicates both the similarities in the international field and the differences in the internal structures of states. These make considerable inroads into states’ identities because the individuals firstly understand that conditions outside the state borders are not anarchic as it is claimed; then they see that their conventional identities are not inseparable after they see the different ethnic entities within the same national identities. Thus, the rationality of neoliberalism undermines the ontological sense of limit of state identities.

Neoliberalism also changes the distribution of capital, property and wealth (Unger, 2001). National identities attribute considerable resistance to the contemporary distribution of capital not to the structure of capital regime per se, but, rather, to the flow and reproduction of capital as they tend to be implemented in globalization. The new global flow of capital aims to depict how the chronic problems of nation states, especially issues regarding restricted/bordered markets, suppliers and consumers of the nation state, could be addressed if capital and wealth were free access and circulated quickly in any market on the globe. Therefore, the new system provides not only a kind of unlimited market, but also a production opportunity based on short-term returns without using any factor of production apart from capital (stock markets) (Stiglitz, 2010). As wealth increases its fluidity, national states lose control over the national distribution of wealth, which deteriorates social policies. In particular, the loss of state power in the field of social policies results in very destructive effects on state identity because these social policies pretend to equalize the wealth within boundaries. These social policies originally formed a misrecognition of the social classes within the nations. As a result, national state identity loses a very important mechanism to defend its social stratification.

Whenever there is an increasing arbitrariness regarding the meanings of identities, a dominant theory, such as contemporary neoliberal expansion, always comes into existence to define the interpretation. The dominant interpretation is not the reality, but an arbitrary reality, formed by the dominant classes of social stratification, supported by the sub-classes of the same social stratification and functionalized by the misrecognition of the agents with regards to the perception of their old national and new global identities. In this respect, it is highly visible that many promises of neoliberalism resulted in rather severe situations for the socially incapable classes. Despite the neoliberal claims, neoliberalism has not achieved a more transitive and comprehensive social stratification. On the other hand, the stabilization of the economy, dynamics of growth, developmental issues and income disparities have deteriorated in comparison with the political nature of the modern state (Krugman, 2007). Therefore, beyond the optimistic sides of the frame, neoliberalism functionalizes some negative and controversial mechanisms to impose the inoperability of state borders. For example, neoliberal invasion has already created millions of hopeless individuals, as the new global slaves or refugees, who have already broken their ties with their territorial national boundaries. In this respect, to isolate these people out of the borders or intercept the movement is seen as an impossible action in the national borders. The other political medium/state response may be the revitalization and accentuation of national identities. However, this way is so dangerous, and conduces many social and political traumas. For example, the accentuation of national identities and national immigrant minorities in society resulted in a dramatic increase in the support of the radical right-wing revivalism.

An interesting function of neoliberal emancipation is related to the means of collective ideas. The nation state identities in the neoliberal process lose their essences to impose the ideas which emphasize existing national accumulations. National identities are established for the sake of totalizing institutions, as national economies and armies, that are based on national sentiment, with the assumption that if national security, law, borders, survival and interests are attacked, the individual identities of every citizen totalize quickly so as to defend the national presence. The national identities in the national social stratification are based on a totalized sentiment of state, but this collectiveness demands extraordinarily extensive propaganda, the investigation of knowledge, financial instruments which are very expensive, and inoperative policies in the neoliberal world. However, neoliberal approaches attempt to outline a more embedded response, replacing the intangible and citizen-based description of the total with knowledge among all individuals affected by a given procedure of globalization (Scholte, 2005). The aim of knowledge-based collectivity is generally issue-specific, and the conversation depends on very quick knowledge and information dissemination, which is provided by the means of technological improvements in the neoliberal world. Contrary to national collectiveness, neoliberal identity pretends to defend universal and up-to-date responses to specific issues, allowing little room for nation-specific interpretations, past experiences and the historical affinity of citizenship (Bourdieu, 2005). In short, similar to Martha Starr, who describes in her work the function of the Economist’s role in the globalization of identity, knowledge and power, neoliberalism renders knowledge accountable, accessible, arbitrary and mistakable (Starr, 2004). Owing to this quick accessibility of information, neoliberalism anonymously and heterogeneously fires up the internal nature of state according to its specific interests. Neoliberal collectivity is more heterogeneous, individualistic, territorially borderless and universal in comparison with uniform, territorial and bounded national collectivity.

Neoliberalism also takes the control of crisis and transition (Duménil & Levy, 2011). It changes the characteristics, frequency and composition of crises. The crises between states are becoming regional and territorially limited issues. Besides this, in accordance with the economic benefits/interests of gross capital owners, state crises are suppressed or fuelled. More importantly, the new global crises are more universal, complex and heterogeneous. Interestingly, the most unsolvable national crises cause wars, which end after one side conquers and comes up a solution at the end. However, neoliberal crises cannot be clearly identified. The causes of crises may not be clearly determined or visible and these crises may have many unclear consequences. Moreover, the impacts of neoliberal crises affect many different states simultaneously. In this respect, neoliberalism makes benefits of persistent crises in order to maintain domination. The universal crises are essential to transferring the economic values from state control to the new neoliberal political stratification. While states had drawn essential experiences from the political and economic crises, these experiences were merely the fundamental cure in the process of reshaping the larger institutionalized global economy and its territorial proliferation. They are far from being institutionalized into a meaningful sense of reality. On the other hand, they are still highly functional in practising the appropriate policies of neoliberalism. In this aspect, after the 2008 America-centred world economic crisis, it was supported that the state authority had to undertake the liability regarding the private financial sector’s deficits. The US government paid a great amount of private-sector deficit under the name of ‘corporate welfare’ (Stiglitz, 2010, p. 38). This is mostly seen as a neo-empowerment of state identity and power or a ‘return of the state authority’. However, this is nothing short of the false consciousness of neoliberalism or the sense of reality, which originated from the state identity of modernity, because the state payment of costs weakens state economic tools and flexibility in order to distribute sustainable economic wealth and economic accumulation. In this way, state functionalization on the interference of future crises weakens sharply.

Neoliberalism has increasingly imposed its theoretical ideation, especially since the 1980s. It has created a great neutralization as an extension of the ‘universalization of particular characteristics’, which is based on the economic field (Bourdieu, 2005, p. 226). This economical neutralization superseded the dominant position of the traditional political fields of the state and suppressed the other social and cultural fields simultaneously. The neoliberal application of the subjective field of individuals is not simply a programme of economic liberal practices, but a theoretical indoctrination which tends to reproduce social arbitrariness for the benefit of new neoliberal social stratification (Ibid.). The new theoretical indoctrination firstly engages a ‘de-familiarization’ from a sense of reality of existing national stratification and a ‘re-familiarization’ or naturalization of the new globalizing social stratification. The experience of establishing identities is being substituted by a new subjective field powered by a neoliberal theorization. The global distribution of classes, which gave rise to the arbitrariness of neoliberalism, does not mean that the economy-oriented domination of neoliberals does not invade the political field of national identities. Rather, the domination techniques of the new stratification are indirect and heterogeneous. Neoliberalism creates individuals of stratification in substitution for the citizens of the state identity.

Neoliberalism also means the indoctrination of new power relations in the objective world conditions. This power relation of neoliberalism does not firstly dominate the concrete economical field. Rather, it is subjectively embedded in the sense of limit. The establishing mechanism of the sense of limit in nation state identities was the ontological sentiment of nation, which was substituted by global information technology and knowledge in the neoliberal era. In other words, the ontological national domination mechanism of a sense of limit changed into objective informational exchanges under the name of ‘structural adjustment’ (Ibid., p. 230). Thus, sense of limit, regardless of states’ territorial boundaries, is taking a suitable time adapting to the new social stratification of neoliberalism. The former social stratification of the state is less likely to compete in a sense of limit than the neoliberal reinterpretation of the agents’ identities. In this respect, the misrecognition of a new neoliberal sense of limit supports a new institutional reconstruction which represents a new sense of reality of the individuals. The new social stratification of globalization is mostly a process for producing individuals within a wider borderless world. The economic capital of neoliberalism produces new institutional bases to impress the arbitrariness and economic reconstruction of the new domination on the new produced individuals. As a result, the new individuals are the products of the new neoliberal understanding of social collectiveness. After neoliberalism atomizes individuals, contrary to nation states, it does not provide the same territorial space for every individual. Rather, the individuals are granted different social spaces in accordance with their functional differentiation from others and their economic accumulation. In this way, social space becomes very complex and heterogeneous for individuals. Besides this, a neoliberal sense of limit fulfils a new legitimacy for individuals to define their identities. The individuals cannot rationally legitimate their identities, regardless of the new understanding of global capital, production, the global market, neoliberal humanitarianism, the global labour market etc. These interpretations are based on a sense of reality and produce the identities of political subjectivity. In conclusion, neoliberalism creates a new theory for more atomized individuals beyond the citizenship and state borders. It imposes a different sense of limit which provides a new set of tastes, norms and perceptions for the interpretation of modern state identity. The neoliberal sense of limit legitimizes a new set of global institutions, which changes the perceptions of states regarding sense of reality. The collectivity perspective of neoliberalism uses economic capital as a base and neutralizes state stratification in order to achieve redefinition in a collective body of state. That is why neoliberalism is becoming a process of transforming political identities from state to a more heterogeneously bordered and complex structure.

Discussions on the neoliberal imagination of field

The main propose of this part is to understand the neoliberal engagement of territoriality and state via the globalization process. Contemporarily, neoliberalism weakens the unification of the territorial boundaries, which means a removal of all existing limits of state functionality.

In this aspect, neoliberalism and globalization, as its spatial functionalization, refers to an economic policy aimed at unifying the economical field by a whole set of juridical-political measures, designed to remove all the limits to that unification, all the obstacles to that extension, most of which are linked to the nation-state … In other words, global market is a political creation (Bourdieu, 2005, pp. 224–225)

Similar to the elimination of former institutions by the bourgeois class in modernity, neoliberalism eliminates the interests and institutions of state identity to achieve a distinguishing domination of new social relations beyond state borders and boundaries. The existence of state borders is a functional tool and an arbitrary political interpretation of new neoliberal economic capital because the existence of state boundaries theoretically creates a strong sense of equality which pretends to insulate state internal economic classes from the new global economic class and its domination. In practice, it only insulates the state from the outside; it cannot prevent neoliberal expansion from territorial boundaries. The state loses its structural and institutional power to penetrate the global and institutional advance of the neoliberal field, but the new economic classes of neoliberalism interpenetrate state borders easily via the neoliberal expansion of economic capital. Thus, the relations between the former economic capital of state and the economic capital of neoliberal globalization are asymmetrical and rely on inequality rather than more equal opportunities in the economic field.

In line with – especially – the neoliberal transformation of the economic field, it is important to answer how the identities will take part in a globalizing locality or localizing global of the economic field. There are a number of different perspectives working on the defining characteristics of neoliberal globalization. One of the prominent perspectives with regard to the issue evaluates that neoliberal globalization objectifies a homogenization which interprets the whole market and its apparatus into the same collective representation. This impression approves that, after the universal domination of globalization, identities will be based on a more homogenous interpretation (Norberg-Hodge, 1999, 2003). Besides this, the second reflection regarding the characteristics of the neoliberal globalizing field indicates that the neoliberal world creates different effects in different localities. This means that ‘the universal’ and ‘the particular’ create intertwined interactions and, therefore, they gradually resemble each other. This perspective refers to a process of ‘glocalization’, which shows the heterogeneous characteristics of the spatial distribution of new identities that achieves a particularization of the universal and universalization of the particular simultaneously (Cox, 1997). The process of neoliberal expansion is seen as a differentiation of territorial identities because the effects of neoliberal expansion are perceived in many different ways according to the peculiarities of different localities. Beyond these two perspectives, another considerable perspective claims that neoliberal expansion does not create homogenization or heterogeneity of the different local identities because neoliberalism does not synthesize or integrate the values and identities of states. Rather, it combines different local identities. In this way, neoliberal globalization constructs a new identity, which includes a variety of peculiarities from all localities. Thus, the neoliberal territorial expanse of globalization is nothing short of a hybrid organization of existing political identities, or – more appropriately – neoliberal expansion on global scale is a ‘hybridization’ of former values and identities (Hedetoft & Hjort, 2002; Woods, 2007).

It is plausible that all of these thoughts reflect some aspects of the neoliberal characterization of the economic field. However, these implications focus on descriptive observations in the objective world, but they do not see the prescriptive characteristic of globalizing identities, constituted by a particular nobility of domination. The particularization of ‘the universal’ is ambiguous because the meanings and scope of ‘the universal’ are very controversial. In line with Bourdieu, ‘the universal’ is nothing short of the arbitrariness of the neoliberal sense of limit beyond state boundaries. Quintessentially, this study follows the idea that ‘the universal’ is formed by theory, created by the arbitrariness of the domination of new global stratification, naturalized by the new global economy-centred institutionalization in the objective world, and practised by the atomized individual agents and collectivization in the global stratification of subjective and objective fields. Neoliberal globalization as a political creation does not resemble the values of all of its members. It is plausible that the globalization of particularity is a peculiar characteristic of the neoliberal field of practice, but this particularity is just a representation of domination because only capital allocation of a certain domination is sufficient to get free from any delimitation and to infuse into the institutionalization of symbolic capital in the international field. As a result of this, the particularization of globalisation into different state identities can only present the same dominant values and its globalizing doxa of relations.

In this respect, in line with the consideration of Bourdieusian economics, it is claimed that the globalizing identity is mainly involved in a new globalizing ‘re-collectivization’. States are mostly experiencing a unification and coexistence of identities because they are dominated by the same economic rules, objectives and institutionalization in the different territorial localities and regimes. Homogenization approaches ignore the differences of localities, but the new re-collectivization considers that differences are a constitutive element of the new vision and division as long as their constitutive objectives target the same expectations, which are subjectively imposed by the neoliberal sense of limits. In addition to this, as is implied above, the heterogeneity approach of neoliberal territoriality stumbles in seeing the construction and meaning of ‘the universal’. Many differences, such as gendered, regional and ethnic differences in state identity, still exist, but globalization does not directly take aim at such sub-structures. It divides these sub-identities into small parts, such as low-ethnicity and local minorities. Thus, the older superstructures, such as the state justice in the territorially defined borders, lose their impact on the agents (Fraser, 2007). In other words, although the values are interpreted in different ways in different social collectiveness, they claim to obtain the similar superstructure and objectives which are provided by neoliberal economic identification. In this way, globalisation re-collectivizes territorial values in accordance with the neoliberal encroachment into state territoriality. As long as these sub-forms abide by the fundamental economic rules and expectations of the new global stratification, state identity will locally have the flexibility to interpret the super-structural institutions such as democracy in accordance with local objectives. This transforms the subjective perception of state, which interprets its identity in accordance with the new sense of limit of the neoliberal globalization because neoliberal globalization is a political creation which aims at the domination of a new global economic stratification via the elimination of the limits of state identity (Bourdieu, 2005).

Historically, every process of unification, or every new homogenization, is connected to the monopolization of a new set of powers which constitutes a distinctive form of former domination. State identity is just a recent form of a distinctive homogenization which is pictured by modernity and its theorization. In this way, a distinctive homogenization is always constituted by the naturalization of homogenization between the imposition of dominants and the disposition of dominated social factions into the same political collectiveness. Therefore, collectivization on the basis of subjective capital is always followed by a collectivization or homogenization in the economic field, as has historically been observed in the foundation of national economic markets. However, as indicated, the differentiation between imposition and disposition or between vision and division is the sine qua non of a successfully founded domination. The harmonization of imposition and disposition creates a false consciousness about the practical positions of agents owing to the fact that the subjective capital of collectiveness is determined by the imposition of some social groups over others not equally ready to compete within the same competitions. False recognition is based on this unconsciousness regarding unequally distributed symbolic capital between the agents. Subjective inequality eventually results in a disadvantaged situation in the economic field for dominated agents because subjective domination transforms into an objectified institution which inevitably produces unequal engagements in economic capital. All agents should be part of competitions in economic field, but only the producers of domination obtain qualified capital allocation to produce asymmetrical economic benefits. Looking at the homogenization of modern state identity, it can be seen that the economic success of the former aristocratic domination was not based on advancement in economic apparatus, but it was instead related to the advancement of subjective capital because subjective domination constitutes a distinctive nobility which is transformed into institutional practices. Therefore, when nobility transferred to the bourgeois, the older form of political subjectivity inevitably lost its domination. As a result, every collective harmonization of political identity is a product of distinctive domination in the economic field (Fraser, 1997).

Neoliberal institutionalization in the economic field does not rely on the harmonization of all actors’ visions, but it consists of arbitrariness and particularity in a dominant or a group of dominants. In this respect, the identification of political identity takes on a new meaning. Originally, the political identification of medieval kings was defined by territoriality and its functionalization in the practical field. National identities developed this territorial identification of the medieval king. On the other hand, the modern state also built on a value-based identification in addition to the territorial definition of identity. In this way, in addition to territorial definition, the value of nationality becomes an inseparable definitive characteristic of modern state identity. As modernity changed the medieval definition of political identity, neoliberal globalization tries to change these definitive characteristics of modernity. The neoliberal definition fundamentally tries to get free from territorially defined political identities. It tries to constitute a pure value-oriented definition of political identity via eliminating any territorial delimitation and its characteristics, which deteriorates participatory arenas for strug/;gles of decision making and justice (Albert, 2002; Fraser, 2007). The value-based system of neoliberalism conceptualizes political identification, which depends on an advanced engagement of democracy and unlimited market economy under the rules and jurisdiction of universal dominant particularity beyond the state’s territorial legislative power. Therefore, the new vision of division in the neoliberal economic field is based on an accumulation of a certain kind of value system which enhances the positions of political actors and states in the international field. This value-based definition of identities is eventually distributed into a kind of organizational process which affects the decision regarding the definition of identities. Indeed, European unification characterizes this value-based identity definition of neoliberalism. Historically, Europe has interpreted with a more territorial definition than by using value-based characteristics. As a result, it is easy to define the territorial borders of Europe. On the other hand, historically, European identity, based on a common value system between the territories, is not as obvious as its territorial, geographical, historical borders. Although territorial European identity is more descriptive, the European Union was formed in accordance with a consideration of a certain value system, the values and principles of which many member states in the union are achieving – or have achieved post facto. As a result, the European Union has defined its identity in line with the value-based divisionary identification of neoliberalism.

Re-collectivization implies that the localities recognize the expectations, stratification and objectives of global capitalist domination because potential differences in the objectives of localities and regulations basically do not intend to achieve any other structural allocation beyond neoliberal arbitrariness. Therefore, methodological differences in achieving the global objectives are acceptable for the neoliberal definition of collectivity. The basic understanding is firstly to hammer the classification and objectives of globalization into the subjective field of state. Re-collectivization is the natural result of neoliberal globalization because every improvement in a certain territoriality depends considerably on other territorialities. For instance, a state’s expectation of its gross domestic product mostly depends on the purchasing powers and economic decisions of other states, and states’ sovereign interrelations are not capable definitions with regards to their functional positioning in the global stratification of neoliberalism. In order to define the delimitation of the new collectiveness, neoliberalism takes advantage of cooperation, dialogue, territorial fairway and common values and common global problems because it tries to maintain its dominance in a common sense of different localities. Consequently, harmony between unequal collective agents is achieved by stresses on common values and created language, such as such as the global sense of humanity and everybody’s environmental conscience. The differences are prerequisites of the new global stratification and its division. As is claimed, if every territorial space of the world achieves the same homogeneous structures, the new global capital cannot profit from the differences in labour prices, market efficiency and consumer tendencies which can change from a territory to another. Contrary to national welfare states, the new global capital domination does not only absorb the surplus value within a restricted territory. Rather, it absorbs the relatively and functionally created surplus of all the territorialities. As a result, the global domination of capital does not homogenize values of identities. Rather, it tries to achieve a functionally well-operated re-collectivization between the identities.

Some approaches show that state identity actually supports globalization – or, more precisely, ‘the state and global have been substantively mutually reinforcing’ regarding governance in relation to identity (Scholte, 2005, p. 148). They evaluate new global solidarities/new forms of sub-identities; gender groups, age groups, religious identities, immigrants and diasporas are the proofs which show that the importance/dominance of national state identities is continuing and contributing to the hybridization of identities. However, the biggest advancement of neoliberalism is to atomize the identity of the state. The more globalization atomizes the existing structure of state identity, the more the world becomes governable for the global capital market. Therefore, these sub-identities are rational results of the atomization of the class structure in the state. States are nothing short of functional organs to make legal changes for the global common market in their own territories. They gradually lose their financial counteraction capacity in opposition to the new global stratification. The new sub-identities mostly come into existence in order to form opposition beyond the state territories because they prove that state does not have the capacity to save the new collectivization of political structures.

Lastly, the new global structure changes the relations between responsibility and power. Originally, sovereign national states were very centralized powers and, therefore, they had absolute responsibility to distribute public goods. However, neoliberal stratification and its dominants substitute state functionality and the power of arbitrariness. The new global stratification created its new collectivization of unequally positioned political identities (Bourdieu, 2005). Meanwhile, it also restructured its new classification of identities and power allocation globally. Most importantly, neoliberalism does not take advantage of a subjective, ontological and theoretical sense of equality in order to populate its identities and classes. The unequal and arbitrary distribution of integration is a basic functional tool of global economic capital. The differentiation of institutional structures is also the arbitrary politics of neoliberal economic capital because inequality and differentiation in institutional structure are essential to produce added value. The important thing is to save the single global market and its rules. In this way, economic capital subdues collectivization in differences and inequality via global autonomous organizations. These organizations also impose and defend the fundamental rules of the single global market. The state becomes a functional part of the policies of these institutions because the state loses its functions of domination without having control of its own economic capital within its territorial borders. Domination of global economic capital obtains power and its arbitrariness, but it does not undertake all the functions of state identity. In other words, contrary to state identity, the new global capital dominates the power, but it does not undertake the responsibilities (for example, new neoliberal economic capital is not interested in social welfare policies). The nation states have to pay these benefits, but nation states are not capable of welfare politics without economic capital. Due to the failures of nation states regarding welfare politics, the reaction of the atomized citizen increases and the agents discredit their national identities in favour of globalizing collectivization.

Neoliberalism and collectiveness of state identity

Neoliberal collectivization on the base of the globalizing economic field is a political creation which is substituted for the former political creation of the national state on the basis of modernization. More precisely, modernity as the theoretical concept of the national state is under attack from a new collectivization which is theorized by a new spatial expansion and its unifying principles of economic policies. Therefore, neoliberalism promises a new collective identification of political subjectivity on the basis of economic, political, symbolic and legislative collectivization beyond the delimited collectivization of states. It is not plausible to expect that such an expansion in the economic field and its objective institutionalization represents the whole set of values and dispositions of all of the collective political agents or states into the international field of globalization. As modernity and its identity construction of states were represented and framed by Western symbolic values and cultural supremacy, which established and imposed their own imagined institutionalization and organization of political identity in the international field, neoliberalism descriptively constitutes a particularity of a certain domination as the collective representation of equality within a wider unified economic field of globalization. In this respect, neoliberalism indicates a distinctive naturalization which changes the functions and characteristics of the former institutionalization of the state. In order to achieve a successful domination, neoliberalism de-territorializes the dispositional understanding of state institutionalization. In this way, neoliberalism impairs divisions on the basis of the democratic welfare state engagements of modernity within territorial defined borders and improves a stakeholder democracy of globalization which imposes a new collective emancipation from the delimitation of state identity. In this respect, neoliberalism tries to impose a misrecognized particularity of emancipation on the dispositions of agents, which constitute the possibility of democracy, welfare and unlimited exchanges within a globalizing economic field.

Economic capital is the productive element of all kinds of capital, and other kinds of capital can be reproduced according to their interrelation with economic capital. The functionalization of economic capital, therefore, is subject to the ‘conversion’ capability of different kinds of capital (Bourdieu, 1986). Neoliberal marketization tries to change the state-centric conservation capacity of economic capital in relation to the other kinds of capital. The basic structural objective of neoliberal expansion is to create atomized individuals and eliminate any collective links of states. In order to achieve this, neoliberalism tries to get free from state-centred interests, citizenship, social stratification and identities. When neoliberal expansion does not directly target state identity, it supports and brings out the low identities and differences within the territories. Thus, neoliberalism had to impose the rationality of stratification, which relies on new symbolic dispositions beyond state identity. The new stratification is likely to depend on the objective actions of atomized individuals whose social positioning is likely to be independent from the territorial interests of the state. In this respect, social positioning will be determined by the capacity and success of individuals regarding the pursuance of competition and accumulation globally. Individuals and their social groups, as citizens, families and citizens, always mobilize on behalf of ontological and subjective ties of their collective identities. When they mobilize on behalf of the state, they cooperate for the benefit of their nations and social classes in addition to their own individualistic interests. However, the new global stratification needs individuals who rationalize their identities in accordance with a pure economic logic and the mentality of the single global market. Consequently, the existing social collectiveness within state identity is seen as the biggest obstacle and competitor to achieve neoliberal expansion.

Initially, the single market of globalization tries to separate social realities and the economy. This process reached a peak when privatization policies became widespread because the state lost commend over many socially important functions and means which form the interference mechanism of the welfare state. Consequently, state identity mainly intervenes in social disputes and restlessness via negotiating neoliberal capital affiliations. States do not freely invest in the collectiveness of their classes and local markets, because class stratification within state territory loses its function in the global market. In this respect, the objective reality of the social world is not compatible with the subjective expectation and objective institutions of individuals. In other words, individuals still have social rights and spaces in the territorial nation state identity. However, the neoliberal economy deliberately tries to put these social collective entities out of commission because the loss of former social collectiveness probably creates a ‘social anomia’ for all the collective entity of state identity. The state’s classes do not find appropriate spaces in the former form of social stratification. As a result, when the existing habitus does not answer actual structures, the vision of state economic capital is questioned by new forms of dispositions formulated by neoliberal expansion. However, at this point, Bourdieu makes an institutional preference and advocates that European social democracies are the basic structural entities for achieving emancipation and reviving public interests. In other words, social collectiveness and collective institutions can only be protected by the European social democratic welfare state model. He relies mostly on social distribution and the social welfare policies of the social democracies. He believes that social democracies can create spaces for threatened social collective institutions in order to stand up to the neoliberal destruction of collectiveness (Bourdieu, 1998a).

The function of salvation or the emancipation of social collectiveness is considerably prejudicial to the logic of new global single marketization. The social collectiveness of state identity provides a space to mitigate the problems of internal social groups. In this respect, social democracies and welfare states were constructed in order to achieve this emancipation mechanism of social groups. Without the ‘social’ and its social collectiveness, individuals were isolated in the pure market domination, which dominates the fields of accumulation all over the globe. However, not only does this domination not tries to get free from the pressure of the ‘social’, but also global neoliberal polices increasingly aim at dominating the fields of distribution (Teeple, 2000). As a result of this, the state is not easily involved in the direct subvention of social classes and spaces because these policies are increasingly opposed by neoliberal social domination. As it was witnessed during the 2008 global financial crisis, despite the fact that the biggest victims of the crisis were the new atomized individuals, the subventions were not directly allocated for the benefit of the emancipation of individuals.

The symbolic violence of the modern political identity created a ‘common sense’ on the basis of a division in accordance with sovereign state identity. However, new rising structural inequalities aim to change the vision of structural violence in the subjective sphere of individuals because knowledge is produced and distributed by the neoliberal expansion beyond the knowledgeable power of state. The new global economy and its global market create new structural violence for individuals beyond their affiliation with state identity. Neoliberalism also extends the borders of the former structural violence in a new global arena. The new economic functional means of the global market improve the success of new structural violence via global-scale unemployment, income distribution and capital fluidity. In this way, the states are imposed to subsidize ‘the deficits’ of global neoliberal expansion because new economic capital imposes that the new distribution is not achieved by direct welfare subsidies of social classes and individuals. This also affects the roles of families on the consumption of their members because the new global power has better knowledge for producing things according to such groups as age and gender (Bourdieu, 1998a). Therefore, the result of dissolving state identity may result in a more de-socialized world than that which knowledge of globalization reveals to us. In other words, the ‘social’ is considerably disassociated from its roots as classes, families, citizens and its collective form of state identity.

Beyond the neoliberal theorization of the globalizing economic field, the territorial limitlessness of new economic capital in descriptive world actually provides a dispositional habituation process for domination in order to influence the subjective habitus of dominated states and their territorial positions regarding the doxa of intended neoliberal identification. Symbolic and objective deficiencies in the capital allocations of dominated states retain these dominated states from competitive membership of new global exchanges and struggles. Domination embodies all of the required subjective, objective, juridical and informative capacities to struggle in the limitless world of economic capital. However, the theoretical freedom from all territorial and institutional limits creates a practical deterioration in the collective bodies of disadvantaged states in the international field. Because of the subjective and objective capacity deficiencies of these dominated states, they cannot operate with unlimited rights and institutions in accordance with the dispositional and institutional superiority of domination. Therefore, it is correct that the neoliberal economic field abandons limits for every state, but, in practice, dominated states do not have the requisite capital allocation to compete in the positions of domination. States’ territorially secured economic spaces actually function as the emancipation mechanism of modernity, which de-escalates the symbolic violence of states. On the contrary, neoliberalism substituted the emancipation mechanism for states with a universally unified field of practice which creates a deeper divisionary symbolic violence for the political identities of states because the new collectivization universalizes particularity and the one-sided values of domination, which results in ‘integration within inequality’. In order to constitute the asymmetrical exchange system of economic capital, new global domination has improved its institutionalization in every aspect of the international field. Indeed, the neoliberal expansion of the economic field enhanced its legislative power and accomplished the capacity to form international law. As a result of this, the international law-making capacity of globalizing domination improved its penalizing functions in states’ internal laws, forming symbolic violence within the globalizing collectiveness of the economic field.

Structurally, neoliberal globalization is the systematic destruction of social collectiveness in international relations (Bourdieu, 1998a). All types of social collectiveness, from national states to family and classes, are potential counters of the new global marketization. The spaces of the former institutional collectiveness are narrowing. When the new global stratification substitutes institutional bases of state identity, it utilizes the functions of states by way of certain policies and global establishments, such as privatization and WTO regulations. Functional policy harmony is supplied by supranational or – more precisely – global regulations which are based on a new normative domination in state habitus that guarantees a single global market with free and safe movement of goods, services and money. This new normative domination inevitably creates social and economic risks within state borders. However, due to the non-territorial distribution of neoliberal economic capital, the new normative institutionalization of global neoliberalism does not contribute to social responsibility/liability for state identity. The actions of states’ – and non-states’ – ‘corporate social responsibility’ practices are failing because they have not achieved a well-founded agenda.[10] That is why the state is just seen as a policy mechanism to guarantee more finance and revenues, and why it functions as a kind of ‘risk bearer’ (Fuchs & Kratochwil, 2002). For instance, when a state obtains a loan from a global financial institution, the institution can express a preference in decision making in all policy areas: social distribution, individualization, privatization and the functionalization of the risk-bearer function of the state.

Institutionally, the former social collectiveness of the state identity is linked to the new rules and laws which depend on the individualistic policy arrangements of the new global stratification. Neoliberal stratification constructs its own legislative bases and, therefore, states try to regulate their own internal laws in accordance with the values and norms of the new single neoliberal market (Bourdieu, 2005). The former international structure of the state was based on objective and recognizable procedures between the mutually equal entities. The state as a social collectiveness had responsibilities for its sub-collective identities and also for a clear policy agenda against all other equal states. However, the states now have duties towards many global power centres. The subjective recognition of states is determined by credit rating agencies rather than other state peers. Thus, the loss of social collectiveness also results in a loss of fundamental institutional and legislative bases of the former social collectiveness. More seriously, the ontological collective and subjective equality of the citizens of the states removed severe medieval institutions of slavery in the international era. Due to the individualization of globalization, a more severe form of global slavery came into existence in a neoliberal economic capital distribution. In the neoliberal social stratification, individualized and socially annihilated identities can easily become parts of global slavery and marginal identities, which are constructed by a new interpretation of symbolic violence in state identity.

The mentality of neoliberal economic capital creates considerably different borders and boundaries for individuals according to their relations with globalized capital, because the new neoliberal globalization is seemingly boundary-broadening (Rosenau, 1997). In other words, the new global stratification redeploys the objective and subjective boundaries of atomized individuals in accordance with the affiliations of social collectiveness. Subjectively, states originally pursue the determined objectives and collective social aims for citizens. The state was based on long-term profits, cooperative/collaborated responsibilities and social solidarity in a mutually recognized international space. The responsibilities of citizens compromise the duty towards their social classes, family and potential future generations of the same national identity. By contrast, the new global economic capital pursues short-term profits and is free from responsibility to any collective affiliation, identity or future generation because new neoliberal expansion does not have any collective boundary. Objectively, individuals are categorized according to the degree of individualization and the position of short-term profits. Every category in neoliberal globalization has its own borders and boundaries. Individuals can obtain a wider space if they seek more individualized short-term profits. As a result, the state had to remove borders for very wealthy capital owners, who are free from the fundamental prerequisites to be a local citizen in a particular state. Individuals under the pressure of loosened state collectivity are most likely to be a part of a local workforce of global affiliations in more restricted borders. The other bordered category is the professional and highly educated workforce. If individuals have potential to increase and contribute their neoliberal economic capital, they can functionally be free from boundaries in accordance with their abilities. As a result, the new global stratification utilizes individuals in relation to capital and short-term profits.


Background of the concept of social capital

Individuals, as fundamental social agents, single-handedly produce restricted material and intangible benefits/qualifications. They also try to obtain other kinds of capital allocation. At this point, social capital most basically defines all kind of achievements and qualifications of individuals produced by cooperative social exchanges, links and memberships. The background of social capital rests upon the thoughts of de Tocqueville regarding union-based society and associational life (de Tocqueville, 2003). Although it was firstly used at the beginning of the twentieth century in sociology literature, it became a strong concept in the second half of the twentieth century. In that period, it generally implied the importance of social exchange and cooperation. It is claimed that society needs well-constructed communication and exchange links to achieve self-development and trust among its members. In the early period, social capital originally referred to human capital because it tried to explain the value of cooperation, which could simultaneously enhance economic capacities (Jacobs, 1961; Schultz, 1961). Therefore, early studies suggest that social capital – or, more accurately, human capital – can construct a productive relationship and exchange networks which can enhance human productivity in other fields, such as economics and politics.

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, the economy-centred human capital focus on social capital definitions was substituted by a more inclusive understanding of social capital which tried to include all intertwined relations of social capital (Bourdieu, 1995a; Coleman, 1988). The efficiency of social capital might depend on many different interrelations and exchanges, from economic to cultural capital. In this process, social capital became a considerably debated and referenced concept in sociology. The subsequent theoretical direction of the concept was interpreted by way of two categorizations. The first category generally argued that social capital is the sum of resources which help actors to construct the exchange networks and relations with other actors (Knoke, 1999; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992; Portes, 1998). This categorization was generally interested in the productivity of personal relations for individuals and their society. The second categorization was interested in collective relations, rather than individualistic relations and productions. It tried to understand relations within a wider, complex and intertwined objective world of exchanges (Brehm & Rahn, 1997; Putnam, 1995; Inglehart, 1997; Fukuyama, 1995). However, afterwards, some scholars tried to take advantage of two concepts interchangeably and simultaneously when they interpreted their conceptual definitions (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998).

The developing concept of social capital has drawn the attention of scholars in different fields of social sciences to constitutive and cooperative functions of the concept in social exchange processes because it potentially enhances trust, collaboration and benefits in both individualistic and social exchanges of modern social structures (Rose, 2000). New studies have generally observed that economic and political capital may not be enough to reproduce and maximize gains and interests. It is seen that economic and political capital are reproduced in a wider complex relations web and, therefore, social agents – both individuals and groups – need to have some other requirements to have a corner in social relationship webs. Economic, political and even cultural capital is a fundamentally inseparable part of the exchange webs embedded in societies. The agents should be able to improve interaction, relation and recognition in their societies. Consequently, it is understood that the agents can productively produce benefits if they invest not only in economic and political capital but also in social relations, concerns and interests. In this respect, social capital explicitly creates a productive basis for individuals to produce their own benefits. At the same time, social capital implicitly establishes social cooperation, recognition, respect, trust and collective identity. In accordance with these interpretations, the concept finds meaning in very individualistic points of view that describe the individualistic gains of the agents (Burt, Cook, & Lin, 2001); and, therefore, a variety of societal points of view that imply the normative, socially collective and cooperative sides of the concept (Fukuyama, 1995).

In sociology, the research of Robert Putnam, James Coleman and Pierre Bourdieu has been instrumental in understanding the conceptual differences, interpretation, scope and effectiveness of social capital. These three scholars interpret the objectification of social capital differently in social world. Putnam strongly argues that products of social capital, such as cooperation, civic engagements, collective trust and associational life, are evidence that social capital is a very positive and productive necessity in social life (Putnam, 2000). On the other hand, Bourdieu clearly argues that the process of social capital is mostly based on unequal distribution, separation, social positioning and division. He basically claims that social capital is a resource which stands by powerful social agents to maintain their social positioning in comparison with less-powerful social agents in the same field (Bourdieu, 1986). Coleman takes a relatively neutral position between Putnam’s positive representation of social capital and Bourdieusian inequality and social capital relations. According to Coleman, social capital is a neutral resource in social structures that organizes the interactions, collectivity and social exchange processes of individuals (Coleman, 1990). In this aspect, the potential yields of social capital vary from inequality to the support of social collectiveness because the productivity of social capital depends on how individuals engage the processes of social capital.

Contrary to the social capital research of Coleman and Bourdieu in the educational field, Putnam fundamentally stressed civic engagements in the social networks. He argues that the active participation of social networks creates trust and reciprocity, which lead to social benefits and collectiveness (Field, 2008). Putnam thinks that social capital consists of two distinctive categories: bridging and bonding social capital. These forms serve different necessities of societies. Bridging social capital brings together different heterogeneous members or groups of society in order to produce common benefits. Bonding social capital creates strong unification and homogenous representation to maintain the solidarity of identity (Ibid.). However, he is likely to support bridging rather than bonding social capital because extreme solidarity causes the political alienation of individuals to their identity, but bridging social capital enhances social voluntariness with regard to the cooperation of individuals and the civic representation of identities. Contrary to Putnam, Coleman is not interested in the political functionality of social capital; he tries to combine sociology with economics in relation to social capital (Field, 2008). As implied, he mostly claims that social capital is a neutral resource. However, he also thinks that social capital can enhance the gains and aims of both powerful and disadvantaged social agents simultaneously. According to Coleman, social capital and objective structures are intertwined. More precisely, social capital forms some of the functions of social structures. Social agents establish their actions on the basis of these social structures. At this point, Coleman’s and Bourdieu’s understandings of social capital are based on a fundamental difference. According to Coleman, different kinds of social structures are supported by different kinds of social capital and, therefore, agents take advantage of relevant social capital when they produce relationships (Coleman, 1990). In other words, agents are fully conscious regarding their identities and interests because they have complete knowledge with regards to which structures are suitable for certain social capital. However, Bourdieu clearly argues that agents are not fully conscious with regards to their own actions. In short, Coleman constitutes his understanding of social capital on the basis of three elements: trust, obligations and norms (Lesser, 2000). In a certain structure, agents constitute trustful engagements, which result in forming recognized objective obligations. Afterwards, respective norms are created in order to maintain respect for obligations in structures.

In the of on social capital, this research fundamentally tried to focus on the applicability of the Bourdieusian social capital concept in the international field. It focused on the capacity of Bourdieusian social capital and reconsidered the re-construction of the political identities of agents in the international field. Therefore, the main focus of this part is to identify potential interrelations between the production of social capital in habitus and the objective construction of political identities of agents including individuals, groups, associations of groups and states. It is argued that social capital and the construction of political identities are intertwined and, as a result, social capital has certain functions in identity production processes. In this respect, the main theoretical engagement of the study is the constructivist theorization of identity. Constructivist stress on agents’ consciousness and interpretation regarding their own ideas and identities is questioned in this part. While this research goes along with the constructivist stress on interpretations, it dissents with respect to the ignorance of structures and the overemphasis of individuals’ interpretations in the process of identity construction in the international field. In accordance with Bourdieusian social capital, it is argued that interpretations are not conscious and they are subject to the historical production of structure or structural relations. Thus, interpretation is a secondary stage of identity construction after the imposition of structural dominations in habitus. As a result, this study explores the productivity of a ‘structural constructivist’ perspective to reconsider the issue. In this way, this part firstly engages the structural roots regarding mutual recognition and social capital. Secondly, it rethinks how social capital reproduces inequality and the division of identities in the international field. Afterwards, it discusses the roles of social capital regarding the hierarchical distribution of political identities. Lastly, the paper tries to depict how social capital supports the reproduction of identities in a globalizing international field.

Social capital recognition and the division of identities beyond social constructivism

In a social field, the exchanges of social agents are explanatory to maintain the collective identity of social self. Social capital helps social agents to gain access to a certain sense of belonging. A sense of belonging exists exogenously and it is exclusive of the consciousness of social agents. Forms of exchanges are not formed by the procedures of actual structures which are not originally natural products of agents’ conscious ideas and preferences. Rather, forms of exchanges are historically grounded experiences. Every externalized interpretation produces internal evaluations based on ‘its own language’ and ‘the present and even the past state of its occupants’, which lead to ‘the unconscious unify of a class’ (Bourdieu, 1984). Hence, they are unnatural and unconscious interactions which define the rules of membership in advance. In this way, agents are not passive practitioners of a given habitus or their own conscious ideas, but rather they are subject to their internalized forms of unnatural historical beliefs. Conscious beliefs cannot affect the actualization of this habitus because they are represented as natural phenomena in order to be recognized members of social spaces. The whole process of social exchange is a more intrinsic construction and/or reconstruction because social agents want to embody collective identity which forms and reforms the rules of participation. In other words, social capital socializes the identities of agents via the agents’ own internalized dominative symbolic productions.

Social agents as legitimate bodies consciously try to construct safer, legal and socially stable spaces for their presences (Shilling, 2012). In order to achieve this, social agents unconsciously take advantage of their bodily internalized social capital. Agents actualize an internalized sense of belonging which expresses the rules of membership or recognition (Bourdieu, 1985). Social capital, producing continual social exchanges, connects agents to certain identities, but this process leads to a degree of institutional relation webs because institutionalization is a necessary factor in imposing the characteristics of external relations into the habitus of agents. Owing to this function of internalized social capital, when agents struggle to be a part of a common identity they also embody and represent the means of domination because they actualize collective social capital, which speaks on behalf of a certain social, political and economic domination of power. Agents consciously want to be a part of collective identities because these identities provide recognition, which is essential to access the benefits of the fields. In this respect, relationships between an internalized sense of belonging and the functionality of recognition mainly structuralize social existence and reproduction of hierarchical domination, which do not have any direct connection with the agents. Hierarchical domination mainly obtains the productive power of mutual recognition, which is the most influencing factor in the struggle for influence in the accumulation of social capital.

In substance, Bourdieusian social capital has the potential to give distinctive explanations for the political identity of agents in international relations. Bourdieusian study produces thoughtful arguments in order to explain social capital and mutual recognition relations beyond the constructivists’ ideations. First of all, the state is a field of practice, an identity of classification or a political localization where ideological productions take place (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992; Swartz, 2013). The correlation between state interaction and social construction loses its meaning when one evaluates the state as one field among others. Contrary to the constructivist agenda, defining subjects and societies as the products of reciprocal construction (Onuf, 2012), social interactions do not lead to a conscious construction of ideas and identities, because agents always struggle to survive in a politically defined space in order to be a part of a collective identity. These agents construct their identities via practical sentiments in habitus rather than conscious ideational social agreements or constructions. Social institutions are just a practical set of rules to objectify the allocation of social capital. Ideas and identities cannot create social interactions if a field, as a structure, requires the reconciliation of a certain practical use of habitus and subjective predisposition. The agents seek to actualize their capital allocations, which are given by the habitus of the field. It is plausible that this process results in the social construction of ideas, but the ideas mostly originate from the inherent field of social capital. The agents originally do not aim to create socially constructed identities, but they want to improve the inherent feature of their social capital given by the field. In this respect, the modern state and its political localization and nationalistic identification depend on social interactions, but these social interactions are mostly involved in inherent social capital. The agents become part of the totalized state identity on behalf of inherent social capital. As a result, there is a reason–result relation between field/structure and identity/idea/social construction. The political field of the state provides a certain social capital allocation or ‘symbolic universalization of particular interests’ for the agents who do not produce their identities without engaging this social capital when they constitute their ideas in the objective world (Bourdieu, 1996b).

Having an identity also means a degree of ‘vision and division’ which occurs beyond the conscious social interactions because the political structure, the state, can become meaningful as long as it creates positional differences in the objective field (Ibid.). Social positioning in structures leads to an accumulation of a certain asset in comparison with other positioning (Burt, 2001). These positional differences are formed by the differentiation of the agents’ inherent social capital. The agents unconsciously gain identities when they struggle over the reproduction of their inherent social capital in the field. In order to be parts of a totalized identity, agents recognize the inherent division or differentiation of social positioning. Similar to family identity, where family members recognize positional and functional differentiation, individuals and groups recognize positional and relational differentiation when they obtain certain national identities. Therefore, structures define or impose how to give meaning to identities by way of the unconscious recognition of division. When agents become members of the same social exchange processes, they also reproduce social division in the field. Thus, social capital is structured by the existence of division because it not only produces ways of empowerment in the field but also unconsciously achieves social positioning or division in identities.

The unconscious recognition of division and the allocation of identity relations also mean that power is an indispensable phenomenon for understanding the representation of identities. Constructivists generally evaluate power as the inter-subjective representation of meanings in the international field (Hopf, 1998; Guzzini, 2005). Contrary to constructivist implementation, the inter-subjective representation of power does not help us to understand the whole process, because the subjectivity of the agents is subject to the unconscious representation of a certain social positioning, and structure imposes a different habitus in accordance with social positioning in the objective field. In other words, positioning in structures affects the meanings of the subjects which are not within their conscious knowledge. Thus, political locality/state and state power are derived from the unconscious dominance of habitus, which influences and organizes the whole processes of division in social capital. The distribution of social capital is never equal because the power of symbolic capital differs in different political territorialities. Some parts of agents have a better representation of social capital in comparison with other members of the same identity construction (Adler & Kwon, 2002). Every member of the same identity in the field has a collective sort of internalized capital, but their possessions of social capital are not pari passu. In order to trace the power relation of identity construction, agents do not consciously and rationally need to struggle for material power relations, but they are always subject to the inherent division of social capital and its unequal distribution in any totalized identity. In this respect, state identity as a politically collective field of identity depends on a structurally inherent division empowered by symbolic capital. This division is fundamental in order to maintain the monopoly on the legitimate representation of social identity, which imposes a non-material power relation into the constitutive processes. Institutionalization results in the successful embodiment of social capital because institutionalization means the construction of mutual recognition, which requires the division and acceptance of functional spaces in the allocation of social capital. The institutionalization of social capital represents a particular social division of totalized identity because symbolic power relations impose the representative dominance of certain individuals and/or groups who simultaneously have the better social capital allocation and right of identity representation on behalf of others. Therefore, power relations are the very presence of identity construction and mutual recognition, but these power relations do not consist of the material interests of agents. Power relations are fundamentally credited by social capital and imposed by a division which is unconsciously recognized by the agents in order to be a part of a common identity throughout the process of exchanges.

State identity, as a social entity, functions as a common identity in the territorially defined political space. Similar to any other social identity construction, it is a production of internal division and, as a result, the differentiation of social capital. In the same way, modern states are local agents of a common identification of a wider exchange web which represents their unique institutionalization of mutual recognition. This process structurally engages the reproduction of inequalities, exclusion and inclusion; it then interprets a constitutionally normative language for the institutionalization/recognition of objective structure (Cleaver, 2005). When state identity achieves recognition of other similar entities it is also unconsciously involved in division. State identity struggles to improve its capital allocation in accordance with the strength of its social capital. However, similar to the internal structure of the state, symbolic power is not distributed equally among the states and, therefore, some of them have a better symbolic power of structure to speak on behalf of others. In other words, social capital is unevenly distributed between the different states in a wider field of exchange called international relations. Similar to the different social groups in the internal political field of local borders, states benefit from membership of a common identity in order to obtain mutually recognizable characters in the international field. However, similarly, individual states are imposed on by an inherent symbolic capital which defines the capacities of their social capital in the processes of exchanges. In this way, social interactions determine social capital in relation with other political and cultural capital in the international field, but identities are defined by power relations regarding symbolic capital, which result in the acceptance of division for the purpose of mutual recognition.

Bourdieusian study figures out two important points in order to interpret the mutually recognized political identity of states in the international field. Initially, symbolic capital is not distributed equivalently among the localities. Some states have a better symbolic capital allocation than others. Owing to this advantage, some local identities gain a better combination of social capital and they obtain a better positioning in the inherent division of identities in the international field. In this respect, state identities are recognized as relatively equal, but social capital, which organizes the exchanges of mutual recognition, are distributed unevenly. With regards to this, the representation of democracy is an essential functionality in order to understand the uneven distribution of social capital. The symbolic capital of democracy is defined and embodied by certain localities of Western states. This bestows these states with the same hierarchical symbolic role and function as the father or the oldest people in a patriarchic family. This symbolic role also provides a superior positioning in the field of exchanges in the international field because social capital can only produce positive engagements, such as Putnam’s imagination of associational democratic engagements (Putnam, 2000), rather than consequences and inequalities, if states have appropriate means of democracy in the fields of political, social and economic capital.[11] When other localities or states try to achieve recognition in the international field they define their positioning by way of unconsciously using the same symbolic capital. This symbolic capital is not their inheritance but it becomes part of the habitus in historical processes. Other unequal state identities in the same international field are not part of the symbolic production of democracy but they become unconscious practitioners of democracy or democratization because, in a field of unequally distributed social capital, agents still obtain trust and solidarity links that provide access to limited or poor-quality resources (Portes & Landolt, 2000). This also means a kind of unconscious recognition regarding their social positioning because using the same symbolic knowledge results in the recognition of an uneven social capital distribution in the international field. States’ social capital interprets their social positioning and it also objectifies the false consciousness of states as if it is their own ideational creation. When states that have less social capital recognize the ‘patriarchic’[12] role of certain Western states regarding democracy, they also recognize the unconscious division between the ‘relatively equal identities of states’ such as the Third World or developing state concepts. Although these states do not have any essential influence over symbolic democratic reproduction, they try to structuralize their identities via harmonizing their unequal social capital and democracy in the cause of more recognition. The Third World democracy, Muslim democracy and developing democracy concepts are all reasons for this unconscious division of social capital regarding identity.

Besides this, the fundamental objective of the Bourdieusian concept highlights the core role of social capital – as a ‘form of capital of obligations’ (Bourdieu, 1986, 254) – in shaping the characteristic and stabilization of mutual recognition (Kuokkanen, 2007). Therefore, social capital consists of unconscious obligations, but it does not engage any objective or material obligation when it constitutes its characteristics in habitus. Agents have a certain degree of social capital and, accordingly, they inherently become parts of the ‘capital of obligations’ because to obtain social capital is to embody the invisible codes of obligations. In line with this, contrary to constructivist inter-subjectivity in international relations, every identity has the characteristics of obligations before they are involved in exchange and institutionalization in the objective world. Agents do not produce conscious obligations, norms and sanctions without engaging their inherent social capital as the capital of obligations. Social capital, as the function of obligations, improves and regularizes the dynamic of hidden division and power of categorization in the construction of mutual recognition. Social capital paves the way for a privileged positioning of some agents in comparison with some others who share the same mutually recognized identities (Field, 2008). Because of this relatively differentiated distribution of social capital, the powerful positions of some agents are perceived as the usual characteristics of the structure. Social capital, as a possession of privileged localities, also results in the misrecognized division in terms of organic relations with obligations in the international field. Some identities living in certain localities, such as the field of the European Union, possess relatively better capital of obligations in comparison with other identities living outside this field. Meanwhile, states acquire capital of obligations before they form inter-subjective meaning in the objective international field. This forms a relative symbolic superiority of identity for the EU zone regarding categorization, division and representation, which are structuralized by international law. International law is a considerable practising arena for the capital of obligations. The fundamental characteristic of international law originates from the complexity of obligations, which is abundant in the social capital of a particular European territoriality. Thus, the other relatively weak agents of the international field unconsciously try to produce capital of obligations and to comply with their positioning, such as Third World or developing state identity, which structuralizes in accordance with the privileged positioning of the particular Western territory. In other words, social capital unconsciously imposes obligations into the habitus of unprivileged identities before they inter-subjectively produce the exchanges and social structures (Burawoy & Von Holdt, 2012).

Social capital and inequality between states in the international field

Bourdieusian study argues considerably that structures are important to give meaning to the actions of individuals because the agents’ unconsciousness regarding their actions and exchanges is only misrecognized and produced in certain structures, which are the production fields of obligations in habitus (Throop & Murphy, 2002). Structures in a particular field are fundamental for defining the value of social capital, owing to the fact that structures impose a symbolic division of habitus which objectifies the access capacity of different agents to social capital. In this respect, the unequal distribution of social capital attributes value to certain symbolic objectives. Following this, these objectives become obligations of exchanges and objectively meaningful ways to pursue interests. Because of the misrecognized recognition of division, agents recognize and value social capital. Habitus infuses social capital into agents and it also regularizes social positioning. In this way, when agents pursue their own interests, the unequal positioning and privileged structuralization of social capital are internalized in their pursuance of interests by the disadvantaged agents in the same field. The political life of individuals in many Middle Eastern political territorialities displays essential observations and traces to illustrate this inequality, structure and social capital relations. The enfranchisement of women is not seen as a part of women’s social capital in many Middle Eastern political fields. The symbolically structured inherent habitus of women naturalizes the division of gender in the process of exchange (Bourdieu, 2001). Because of this misrecognition, empowered by social capital, women recognize that their positioning in political elections is a privileged way for them to be esteemed and recognized members (a constitutive function of self-reflexivity regarding gender inequality) (Adkins, 2002; McNay, 2000) and to reach their interests in the process of social exchange. Similarly, taba’iyya (politically bounded subject/subjecthood) (Butenschøn, Davis, & Hassassia, 2000) functions as citizenship in many political fields of the Middle East, but, in reality, there are considerable differences between the identity of citizenship and taba’iyya. Becoming a part of taba’iyya does not entitle many of the rights and responsibilities which citizenship recognizes. However, as it is argued, the structural field of social capital values the obligations of independent/bounded relation in the political identities of individuals in the Middle East and, therefore, individuals having the identity of taba’iyya misrecognize the privileged positioning of the agents and interests of social capital. Thus, social capital becomes the means of the construction of inequality, division and social positioning between privileged and disadvantaged identities in the field of exchanges.

In accordance with the concept of social capital, Bourdieusian study gives us an intermediate objective of inequality between structural thinking and constructivist theorization. The constructivist agenda generally assumes that inequality is derived from social subjects’ own interpretations regarding objective social exchanges, which differ in their interpretations and perceptions of inequality (Harris, 2004; Holstein & Miller, 2003). It implies the relativity of inequality in accordance with social processes, subjects and the conscious social exchanges of individuals. This perception of constructivism infers that it is not plausible to research any objective definition and reasoning for inequality because it is always interpreted subjectively regardless of structures. However, when this consideration of social constructivism is rethought vis-à-vis social capital, it can be traced that possession of social capital is affected by structural division and its symbolic structure, which result in the misrecognition of the social agents regarding their own constructions and exchanges. Because of invisible division and unequal distribution in the symbolic products of structure, the agents cannot reach the relevant social capital and, therefore, the interpretations of individuals go beyond their consciousness with regards to their unequal positioning in society.

The structural effect on the misrecognized symbolic domination of habitus not only imposes an unconscious division of agents and the unequal distribution of social capital but also contributes to the continuation and re-structuralization of inequality in social capital sharing. Social capital as the capital of obligations deepens the gap between privileged and disadvantaged identities of agents. The control capacity of advantaged agents over the obligations of social capital prevents disadvantaged agents from accumulating a better allocation of social capital, which is necessary to improve the exchange quality in the objective world (Field, 2008). In other words, beyond being a reason for inequality, social capital also improves the social basis for the re-constitutionalization of chronic inequality. In this respect, inequality, symbolic division and otherness become important and integral parts of structures in order to maintain the objective and interpretive domination of identities (Schwalbe, Godwin, Holden, Schrock, Thompson, & Wolkomir, 2000). In relation to the political identities of agents, the international field is a praxis space of unequally distributed social capital. International law boosts the efficiency of symbolic orientation and it also organizes obligations regarding how agents pursue their interests. For example, the membership statuses of international advocacy organizations and other NGOs in international organizations, as the agents of international field, are exclusive. Some NGOs have priority to be participants or members of the decision-making processes of the organization because their accumulated social capital and basis of social exchange give them an advantage over other NGOs. The organization styles of many institutions, especially the United Nations, maintain these bases. Therefore, the social positioning of some organizations defines the borders and scope of interests for other disadvantaged organizations. Similarly, political and territorial division also unconsciously indicates the inequality of social capital. Classifications like the Third World or the Eurozone define how agents perceive their obligations and how they pursue their interests in the objective world. In this way, symbolically imposed divisions become objective exchanges in the objective world.

The main objective of constructivism is interpretations rather than consequences and the results of inequality. In other words, unless agents consciously and reflectively focus on inter-subjective meaning and the construction of inequalities, constructivism does not try to find answers for the abolition of inequality in the objective field (Harris, 2006; Holstein & Gubrium, 2005). However, Bourdieusian study also stresses the link between the distribution of social capital and the incapacity of the agents regarding their own self-reflexivity of identity. Perceptions and interpretations of ideas lose their importance because the agents do not consciously control their perceptions and they exercise an imposed reflexivity rather than their own self reflexivity of ideas (Hoy, 1999). In this respect, a higher level of social capital possession enhances the agents’ self-reflexivity and control on their own interpretations. It also improves their capacity of exchange because higher social capital leads to better engagements of interests. Therefore, the capacity of social capital intensifies the reflexivity of domination, which bestows a deeper social classification of identities. The political identities of the international field mainly verify this causality of social capital. The intensification of social capital in a certain political field always improves privileged social exchanges, both in the same fields and among the different fields. The European Union has the highest intensity of social capital in the international field. Consequently, the enlargement process of the European Union is also a field of practice with regards to the reflexivity of social capital. Due to the privileged position regarding social capital allocation, the European Union can freely define the borders of the field and the obligations of capital in the field. In order to be a member of the same field, other states or localities need to take advantage of self-reflexivity derived from the European Union’s cultural, political, social and economic capital, obligations and interpretations. Another interesting field of praxis is immigration. The social positioning of immigrated social groups in host families leads to imposed self-reflexivity, producing inter-subjective inequality within the same field. The incapacity of social capital in immigrant identities generally functions as an inseparable part of imposed positioning, which is subject to the capital of obligations in the same political field. Integrative political policies in immigrant societies simultaneously and symbolically maintain and deepen the unequal distribution of social capital because they are generally implemented in structures, regularizing inherent advancing positions and divisions in the same political identity and spatiality.

Constructivism thoughtfully research how subjects, interpretations and perceptions of inequality are inter-subjectively constructed according to the ideation of different subjects (Harris, 2006). In this aspect, constructivism is not interested in labels such as subject and the subjectification of inequality (Ibid.). However, the inter-subjectivity of both privileged and disadvantaged subjects is not free from the symbolic habitual representation of historical structures. Not only do disadvantaged agents pursue the symbolic inherent structure of their habitus, but also privileged agents focus on symbolic interpretation which aims at the exclusion of disadvantaged agents in order to maintain their interests by way of social capital. In other words, the inherent dispositions of habitus create different unconscious objectives for both advantaged and disadvantaged agents (Adams, 2006). Therefore, privileged social capital owners are prone to exclude disadvantaged agents from their internal exchange of social capital. Appropriate strategies for the structuralization of inequalities penetrate differently into the habitus of different agents according to self-reflexivity, which may become a function for the symbolic domination of habitus (Sweetman, 2003). When they objectify their interests they also unconsciously produce interpretations, serving inequality and the naturalization of unequally distributed social capital. In this respect, it is not plausible to think that the institutionalization of the international field is solely the ideational, inspirational and conscious interpretations of subjects/agents of political identities, including individuals, groups, organizations and states, in the objective world. It is generally seen that the political institutionalization of the international field generally groups the localities, states or other political subjects who have similar capacities or incapacities of social capital. When privileged political fields define their identities in accordance with the interpretation of ‘developed’ they also create a social closure, serving the inclusion of certain social capital and the exclusion of the other social positioning. The enlargement processes of the European Union prove that the inclusion of localities into the interpretive field of Europe is mostly derived from an inherent resemblance of social capital. On the other hand, exclusion also creates social positioning based on interpretation of ‘developing’. This also results in grouping disadvantaged subjects in the international fields. As a consequence, social capital deepens inequality and its social positioning in the international field while agents pursue its subjectively imposed obligations and interests.

Furthermore, social capital is a historical formation which transfers its symbolic divisions and obligations of capital to the next generations (Field, 2008). This also contributes to the unequal distribution of social capital because it restricts the expectations and interests of targets. In other words, the potential improvement of agents is suppressed in accordance with the perception, identification and expectation of agents’ own social groups. Social agents are expected to fulfil the social expectations/impositions of their social groups and inherent solidarity of their habitus because the habitus of social groups is formed in opposition to other social groups and, therefore, it produces distinctive internal hierarchies and exchanges which are incoherent for other social groups (Portes, 1998). In the light of these interpretations, it can be inferred that the symbolic structure of nationalism functions as a bearer of inequality for relatively disadvantaged agents in the international field of modernity. Contrary to privileged identities, members of disadvantaged groups have relatively very restricted borders constituted by strict visa regimes in the international field. This structure vitiates the influence of agents’ engagements with other fields. On the other hand, the solidarity of the group symbolically puts pressure on the identities of members. Under the restricted social capital of national space, agents embody imposed otherness to be recognized members of internal solidarity. In contrast with the constructivist stress on human ideation, nationalism is not simply a political institutionalization of human interpretation or an interactively created norm of sovereignty. Otherwise, modern sovereignty, the Westphalian order, the ad hoc conference system and nationality should simultaneously have come into existence. However, nationalism came onto the historical stage more than a hundred years later than the institutional changes of the modern political field. At this point, social capital gives clues to understand the nationalization of identities. Here social capital is the key term to understand the construction of national identities, because it depicts the inherent symbolic representation of structures in agents’ identities. In line with the concept of social capital, it is considered that national identity is a historical process of habitus which produces an unequal distribution of social capital in a new and distinctive way. Social capital is the fundamental phenomenon to reinterpret the style of exchanges, membership and capital of obligations. In this process, social capital defines the construction of solidarity, division and otherness which are necessary conditions to reproduce symbolic, political, economic and cultural capital inter-subjectively.

Social capital, stratification and hierarchy in the international field

The reproduction of hierarchy among political subjects and the functionalization of social capital in the practical political field have always come into existence simultaneously. A successful reproduction of the hierarchy depends on a redistribution of existing social capital among the members of the political identity (Bourdieu, 1991). Hierarchy in the existing study of international relations mostly observes the characteristics of the power structure, the roles of inter-subjective recognition and norms (Gallarotti, 2010). The existing approaches overlook the social characteristics of the state as an individual member of the international field. The state, as a social subject/organism of a certain political identity, spontaneously produces a hierarchy in accordance with its borders and limits of social capital. In this respect, international relations is not a realm of hierarchy empowered by the power structures of anarchy or by subjective conscious consent on anarchical structures. Indeed, the roots of hierarchy are founded on the social presence of the state’s political subjectivity beyond these structural or constructional considerations. Hierarchy is a more conscious phenomenon which is imposed by the social capital of states. Social capital continually reproduces the social limits and characteristics of powers and interests. The state unconsciously obeys the social limitation of its social capital before it objectively conforms to power and its normative constitution in international relations.

Social capital in the international field is a subjective arsenal of domination which reproduces power and its political identification. Social capital distributes an unequal involvement into subjective materials (Hughes & Blaxter, 2007). These subjective materials consist of appropriate functions of historically collectivized bodies to accomplish a better positioning in the actual power relations of political identity (Bourdieu, 1991). A dominant positioning in the international field always obtains a better positioning because it takes advantage of well-founded networks, relations and contextual tools. A non-dominant state in the international field possesses a less-advantageous position regarding social capital which institutionalizes the conformity of objective obligations in the field because the pursuance of social capital also creates an infrastructure of membership in the international field. In this respect, social capital is a conscious strategy of domination to produce collective meanings, borders and functions of political identity (Swartz, 2013). In addition to this, the pursuance of social capital also unconsciously imposes values and expectations of the international field. A state’s social capital not only constitutes the borders of positioning in the international field, but also objectifies the structural obligations of relationship and institutionalization in the field. Social capital empowers and restricts the states’ abilities gain better access and a better position in the hierarchy of the international field. Therefore, every individual state in the international field possesses the same identification of political identity, but only better-positioned states in relation to symbolic power have the opportunity to access all benefits of a given political identity.

The hierarchy of the international field fundamentally survives on the basis of conformity regarding membership of the field, which naturalizes inequality via formal equality between the agents (Inayatullah & Blaney, 2004). Social capital takes an active role in the reproduction of mutual recognition for this membership via contextual factors such as power and inequality in the networking styles of social capital (Christoforou & Davis, 2014). The networking styles of social capital characterize the valuable pursuance of states and the institutional requirements of objective obligations (Bourdieu, 1986). When states are involved in valued practices and obligations of the field, they simultaneously produce a membership of the international field and a hierarchy of political identities. In other words, valued obligations of international field actually comply with a certain positioning of domination because dominant subjects of the field always have well-established tangible and contextual social links which provide for the production of sustainable inequality between domination and dominated states of hierarchy in the international field. This contextual superiority of social capital can be visibly seen if one researches the valued obligations of a certain historical international field. When political identity attributes value to nationality, certain dominant European states have taken better positions in the international field because they have already obtained better positions regarding the contextual means of social capital and constituted networks which transmit the interests and strategies of these dominant states as common strategic and contextual social networking for states of the same field. In this way, the other states had to pursue the same strategic interests and power relations but their social capital is unequal; it produces less-capable networks to accomplish the valued obligation of membership and its recognition. Similarly, the identity of political subjectivity contributes liberal democracy as the valued obligation of the international field, and liberal democracy becomes an objective obligation for being a respectful member of the hierarchy in the field. However, networks and the contextual means of liberal democracy are only developed by certain members of the international field. The available social capital of the other states is not adequate to obtain appropriate durable relational networks and their contextual productions. In a nutshell, the dominant states in the international field invest their creditable contextual superiority into certain strategies and interests; they reproduce relationships and networking styles which defend their subjective and objective dominance of the field. Investment in the contextual bases of social capital results in dominance of the reproduction styles of social and political relationships, which stabilizes the institutional and subjective distribution of the hierarchy in the international field. Objective structures are organized by values which provide superior networks and strategies of social capital for certain states. On the other hand, the other unequal member states of the same social capital space struggle for the same values in order to achieve the structural obligations or doxa of the international field and an institutional guarantee of a better recognition in the field.

In line with the stabilization of hierarchy in the international field, social capital reproduces two structural practices of interconnectivity. The first of these practices is related to the characteristics of domination of the field. Social capital reproduces unequal stratification in accordance with the existing hierarchy of the field (Bottero, 2005). Similar to the former political subjects of history, state identity relies on structured networking strategies which depict the production styles of social capital in the whole international field. In this way, social capital functions as the inter-subjective basis of recognition in the international field. Every individual state invests its dispositional knowledge to accumulate social capital, but unequal delegation regarding the available knowledge of networks improves the distinctive positions of certain states because they create strategies of recognition in the international field by continually reproducing the valued accumulation style of social capital. As creators of the institutionalized delegation system in international relations, a certain group of states gains an inter-subjective power to delegate representation of the whole field in international relations and the interest of all collective representations. The power of social capital subjectively maintains the existing invisible domination via totalizing the representative strategies of recognition in the presence of privileged members of the hierarchy in the international field. In other words, social capital empowers the networking strategies of certain states as the basis of recognition in the international field, which exacerbates the unequal positions in the hierarchy of international field.

The conformity on the embodiment of social capital among the states in the field improves the existence of autocratic distribution of political positions on the basis of a certain political identity. The leader position of dominant states in terms of social capital exchanges imposes dispositions which stabilize dominant states’ subjective representation and objective structural power on the definition of recognition. Social capital guarantees and maintains the social relation of the existing stratification, which institutionalizes the legitimacy of representation for being a member of the field (Susen, 2011). In other words, social capital institutionalizes the unconscious willingness of the states in accordance with the monopoly of the dominants on the social relation of states. Being a part of this institutional recognition imposes the nobility of dominants, which highlights the distinction of dominants from other member states of the same political identity. The nobility of the dominant state or states achieves a power which can speak in the name of the whole international field as the highest representative of the political identity. In this way, the institutional delegation of nobility dominates social relations, which empowers the dispositions of states regarding their own positions in the field. The states define their positions in the field by the way of the representative quality of their nobility because this quality gives a better position or accumulation of social capital.

The second important product of social capital is related to the relative positions of states in the international field. Social capital continually reproduces social stratification in the field of international relations. Social capital maintains a stratified system which reproduces a system of distinction between the dominant and the other sub-identities in the field (Bourdieu, 1984). Discursively, all of the members of the international field, regardless of their positions in the domination, obtain the same styles of national identities and they are involved in the same sphere of international law. However, having the same types of identity practically guarantees the differences between the individual members of the international field. Continually reproduced distinction via social capital penetrates into understandings and images of states regarding development, growth, governance and many other state agendas. These agendas or policies are organized by the dominant states in the political field of international relations. Domination produces the beneficial characteristics and mechanisms of its appropriate political identification, which depicts the behaviours of the dominant classification (Ibid.). The distinctive representation of domination creates a number of characteristics and behaviours which organizes nobility or the most appropriate social capital of the international field. The other states of the same international field utilize these nobility, characteristics and behaviours of domination as guidelines because they figure out the identified relations which help to understand their own positions in relation to the political identities of other states.

Social capital reinforces the stratification of political identities in the international field. Every position relies on different networks and relations, which are distributed by the dominant states’ exclusive monopoly of nobility (Bourdieu, 1996b). These networks are distributed unequally in international fields. States have restricted use of networks in accordance with their capital allocation. In this way, certain states have access to a majority of networks, but many other states can take advantage only of a restricted number of networks which defines their exclusion in the international field. The embedded doxa of the international field or international law highlights that members of political identity take part in same mutual recognition and sovereignty but, in practice, social capital restricts the use of networks, which is necessary to enhance recognition and sovereign representation. The doxa of the international field inherently imposes individualistic preferences and embedded characteristics of domination which can only be accomplished by networking styles of domination. The political stratification of social capital in the international field materializes the characteristics of dominant political states as the nobility of whole field. In order to be a highly respected member of the international field, a state is expected to achieve this nobility, but because of a lack of social capital, the standards of nobility function as a maintenance mechanism for the political distinction of domination over other members of the same political identity in the international field. Owing to a political stratification of social capital, the interests and preferences of states are shaped by bordered networks of states. In this respect, limited access to social capital simultaneously creates an internalization of the external production of nobility because limited networks of states result in the reproduction of stratified positions which maintain the distinction of domination. Having similar social capital unconsciously categorizes states into certain positions, which legitimizes political stratification without any resistance against the symbolic form of power relations in the international field. In this way, the dominant states of political identity influence the practices of the other stratified states by means of their embedded nobility of domination. Unequally positioned states of the international field pursue these principles of nobility but they are unconsciously bound to the restricted networks of social capital. Eventually, social capital reproduces political stratification via the stabilizing position of dominant and dominated identities in the international field.

Developing state and Third World concepts: dominant–dominated vision and division

Developmental research (Greig, Hulme, & Turner, 2007; Peet & Hartwick, 2009) and its conceptualization of developing states are significant examples in the contemporary international field to understand the functionalization of the Bourdieusian understanding of social capital for the definition of political identity and position. Developmental research generally argues that the handicaps of developing states not only depend on a lack of economic resources, but also rest on a lack of social capital, which results in ineffective networking and accumulation of political values (Christoforou & Davis, 2014). Social capital is seen as the objective networking styles of individuals and groups, which can be accomplished if states are internally involved in particular objective sustainable governance processes. The developing countries concept is associated with the internal disabilities of states within their own territorial borders. Social capital is bordered by the associational qualification of societies within a particular state border. In this way, it is thought that if the associational qualification of internal communities of states improves, the developmental quality of the state will gain acceleration. Consequently, developmental studies fundamentally focus on the deficiencies of the state within its own borders, which depend on the structural constraints of groups and individuals with regards to associational networking practices.

On the other hand, states categorized as developing have more structurally rooted deficiencies related to their own political identities and subjectivities beyond the internal societal inadequacies. As social capital materializes the divisionary identity positioning of individuals and their social groups, it also provides a divisionary and unequal distribution of networking among the states as the subjects of political identity in the international field. The dominant identities of state identity in the international field have a tendency to depict the stratified conceptualization of the developing state in accordance with institutional and constructive deficiencies. In line with Bourdieusian insight, the conceptualization of the developing state is primarily free from any institutional weakness. It fundamentally originates from the dispositions of states regarding their own positions and identities. In this respect, the conceptualization of the developing state relies on the habitual foundation of accumulated history, which changes into institutional and constructive perception after states give meaning to their identities in relation to the other states. Because of embedded structural constraints, social capital is found in stratified forms in the habitual practices of developing states which do not satisfy the needs for constructed rules of international field. The habitus of a developing state restricts its relational understanding of political identity because habitus produces dispositions which depend on the structurally limited embodiment of networking. In other words, under the limited networking, the objective experiences of subjects harmonize the conditions of existence, which unconsciously impose identical ways of expression for identification (Bourdieu, 1990b).

The aim of this part is to find out the potential Bourdieusian contribution of political subjectivity and its identity in relation to social capital in international relations by way of the developing state concept. The first contribution here is to focus on objective/subjective structures and social capital engagement with regards to the reproduction of the concept of the developing state. Basically, the concept of developing states is fundamentally based on a reproduction of the historical developmental perception as the core phenomenon of the social capital and state identity interrelation. The distinction between the objective and subjective structures of the developing state allow the reproduction of social capital as possession of a predisposed position in the field, which impairs the networking of its relative political identities. The perspectives of development are seen as a problem related to the objective structures of state identity, but if there is a correlative link between the positioning of political state identity and social capital it will be irrelevant to separate the objective and subjective structures in the conceptualization of the developing state. Therefore, in accordance with Bourdieusian study, social capital proves that the conceptual approaches of state subjectivity cannot be popularized within the economic and institutional discussions and definitions of objective structures in the international field.

The positioning of political identity of the developing state is oversimplified by objective institutional accountable means of economy via industrialization data and produced GDP of developing states. Development is standardized by dominant dispositions of growth, and it is influenced into the positioning of developing states by domination in the international field. The fundamental basis in the concept of developing state is the idea of ‘standardized development’,[13] intrinsically stratified and linked to control of the reproduction of political identities. Objective inquiries and the institutions of development function as doxa which imposes an obligatory schema to get involved in recognition in the international field. The standardization of development in practice consolidates the total control of the reproduction of an institutionalized political identity. The developmental concept of modern state identity is the deliberately objectified phenomenon of domination in the international field, which, while not unique to the contemporary stage of historical social accumulation, hushes up subjective stratification with respect to the ownership of social capital. In this way, social capital provides the institutionalization of distinction in the dispositions of a state regarding its position in the field, which reproduces the consciousness of standards regarding institutionalized developmental actions in the objective structural space of the international field.

The conceptualization of the developing state relies on phenomenological dispositions of subjective structures, which reproduce social capital before state produces objective actions with regards to economics and politics. Although developing states refer in practice to a structuring objectivity, originally it was bound to a structured distribution of subjective capital in the positioning of the developing state. Development is more structured in that stratified domination of the international field is represented as a structuring target which the state can reach in accordance with their success in objective economic and politic relations. However, economic wealth apparently does not graduate a developing state to a more developed position. Development requires a considerable amount of social networking, which helps a state to get involved in the required amount of objective institutional field of practices. In this respect, ‘developing’ means an inability to produce enough networking because of the lack of social capital. In order to understand the categorization of developing state identity, it makes better sense to look at who is bordering whom, rather than the economic wealth of individual states. The economic objective conditions of states do not compulsorily distinguish state identity and the concept of the developing state. In many cases, visa conditionality between the states makes meaningful sense to understand state positioning with regards to development, because states that have more social capital achieve an easier freedom of movement for its citizens.

Potential improvements in the political and economic capital of developing states do not change their developing positions because indigenous styles of networking differ from the expectations of the international field. This means that developing states indigenously lack the means to pursue a successful process of collecting social capital in field. The networking capacity of social capital, which creates distinction in the mobilization of other agents in the same field (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992), can only be successful for dominant states of international relations, because social capital can only comprehensively institutionalize into the identity of distinctive identities as a durable potential power (Bourdieu, 1986). In this way, social capital, as production process of developed states within their borders, maintains a compatible transition of its characteristics from internal indigenous networking styles to the international accumulation of social capital. Thus, the indigenous associational life of a developed state within its border and the networking styles of the international field are derived from similar social capital accumulation processes. In this way, developed states indigenously do not confront any difficulties when they try to increase social capital in the international field. Because of indigenous associational practices regarding social capital, developed states easily transfer their dispositions, characteristics and experiences into the international field. On the other hand, the embodied dispositions of developing states produce a practical consciousness which can only produce social capital in accordance with their indigenous associational lives. The concept of the developing state subjectively imposes the roles of external structures in subjective state habitus by placing development under the control of social capital before developing states produce meanings in relations to others. Associational life within developing state borders does not cover the expected social capital accumulation in the international field. These expectations are fundamentally autonomous from improvements in other forms of capital. The Chinese status of developing character highlights this autonomy, which proves the compatibility between the indigenous accumulation of social capital within borders and the accumulation of social capital in the international field. Despite a great development of economic capital in the international field, China is still deprived of producing the required social capital, because its indigenous associational life is still distinct from what networking styles demand in the international field. Consequently, the Chinese cannot transform their economic development into a meaningful power of social capital in the international field.

As Bourdieu emphasized, social capital is an actual and credential resource which improves the qualification of actors when they develop their relative economic, political and cultural capital allocation (Lin, 2001). As a credential value, social capital not only functions as a stock of power, but also transfers the unequal distribution of material and non-material resources in the field. Because of social capital, certain behaviours of certain actors in the same field are seen rational and non-objectionable even though similar behaviours may be seen as uncreditable and irrational for other actors that have relatively less social capital. In the same way, with a Bourdieusian emphasis, the field of international relations exercises this credential feature of social capital in the routine practices of states. In practice, being a developing state also emphasizes that the position of the state is less secure than the states that have a better position in the domination. The positional insecurity of developing states is also seen as a potential threat by developed states in the international arena. Because of the credential social accumulation, no state in the same social space thinks that a developed state can be a resource of insecurity, thread or instability. In other words, constituted social networks and their credential dispositions rule out any ideation which implies the potential for a developed state to be a reason for threat and violence. The credential feature of social capital consolidates the social functionalization of developing and developed states. It assigns the developed state to protect security in the international field. It simultaneously compels developing states to think that insecurity is assigned to their identities and developed states have the right to be in charge of reinstating security in the name of developing states. In this respect, the demand for military bases is seen as natural expectation of a developed state within developing state borders, but, on the other hand, any similar demand from a developing state within the border of developed states is unthinkable. The credential feature of social capital not only brings potential social networks for developed states in order to get involved in different actions, but also highlights the incapacity of developing states with regards to the embodiment of a better capital allocation. By engaging credential functionalization, social capital regularizes the unequal distribution of political and economic capital via the reinforcing functionalization of recognition for the dominant position of developed states.

The credential feature of social capital creates further questions regarding why a developing state plays a part in a field which describes it in a relatively unequal way. Here it is logical to refer to Bourdieusian study on social class and its unequal stratification (Swartz, 1997). The state is mostly evaluated as a social actor beyond its political rationalization and functionalization. State identity fundamentally tries to realize the social expectation of a less homogenous group of people in the international field. Therefore, state rationality mostly depends on a social logic which behaves in accordance with the functionalization of societal grouping. Social grouping takes form in the existence of unequal positioning and stratification, which are determined by the existence of a valid and accepted dominant core in the social system (Bourdieu, 1984). In the international field, states as social actors value their identity relatively in accordance with distinctive positions of domination. The existence of domination values every individual member of the field via a standardization of recognition and position in the field. As a social actor, states want to gain a recognized position before anything else. This recognized position is derived from the state’s practical sense regarding its identity in the objective field. Within its state border, society distributes positions unequally in line with a loyalty to a founded historical domination and its ruling practices. In this way, a state does not feel out of place when it becomes part of an unequal international system under the loyalty of domination. In this aspect, having a recognized identity has more primacy than having an equal position in the international field. Having a recognized position in the international field enounces the state’s practical logic regarding its political identity. Thus, developing states do not discuss why their identities are determined by an unequal definition of positions. In this way, the concept of developing states simultaneously defines a standardized recognition of dominated identities and stabilizes/regularizes positional stability and the superiority of a dominant position for developed states. Even though developed and developing states have a different unequal social stratification, ranging from primitive to modern, basically, all unequal structures of society are derived from a sum of nobility practices determined by dominance. In the international field, the domination of developed states, therefore, subjectively imposes its nobility practices, which defines the borders between developed and developing via defining the understanding of development at a certain historical stage.

Due to the structured unequal stratification embedded in the normative objectives of social capital (Christoforou & Davis, 2014) beyond material inequalities, states rest in restricted networks in accordance with their accumulated social capital, which is distributed by their capacity in the control of the assets of international law. Social capital interprets the positional distribution of state identities, which defines how much the state can benefit from the rules of structured international law. In this sense, the concept of the developing state is a misrecognized consensus that the developing state approves its disadvantaged use of structural nobility/international law in return for having a recognized position under the rule of international domination. The economic and political capital of a state determines the state’s potential to have a position in international relations, but only social capital shows how well a state can put into action that potential. In other words, accumulated social capital conceives of a qualification of the dominant state on the actualization of international law in the international field. Consequently, in the international field, the advancement of economic capital does not always interpret states’ positions in international stratification of domination. Despite a considerable improvement in economic capital, a state can be defined as developing country in line with its relative accumulation of social capital. Therefore, it is not easy to reposition a state in the structured interpretation of the international field, because, in practice, all inclusions and exclusions of state identity in the international field are structured by the ownership of social capital. As is monitored in the construction and expansion of European identity, to claim that a certain state does not have European identity means, in practice, that the state is still developing its social capital in order to have a considerable engagement with international structured law. In other words, the state cannot respond to similar issues or exercise the international nobility of democracy or human rights in accordance with the practices of stratified domination.

Despite the structured domination of stratification in the international field, a Bourdieusian emphasis on the structuring feature of the objective field, social capital, also instigates mechanisms which facilitate the transformation of structured values and institutions (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992). Certainly, dominant states of the international field try to reproduce their nobility by means of securitizing the distinction between developed and developing in an unequal stratification of a wider international field. However, simultaneously, the structuring international field provides considerable opportunities for developing identities of states to accumulate social capital beyond economic capital and to transform values and institution beyond a structured understanding of international law. In this way, even the dominant identity of international field maintains an understanding of the symbolic values of social capital and recognizable networking styles of the field; developing state identities form new styles of symbolic exchange and networking which are in conflict with standardized ways of international domination and the formation of political identity.

An actualization of this change has been done through the process of the European Union project. The EU project has considerably changed the structured distinction between domination and developing in the understanding of international field. The project blurs the understanding of what is developed and what is developing in the objective world. It fundamentally changes the symbolic values of being associated beyond the structured form of association in international law. New associational improvements of state identity trivialize the prominent position of economic capital. In this way, the differentiation between developing and developed within the new political network trivializes because the developing states obtain an opportunity to compete with the developed state within the same position of the international field. In other words, developing states take advantage of positions in developed states’ domination without having the characteristics of their new positions. This enhances their chance to improve their social capital accumulation and to extend their networking capacities. Another aspect of this change in state political identity originates from social capital and the constructed nobility relations which institutionalize a particular networking (Bourdieu, 1986). The new understanding of nobility arises from how European identity should be perceived. In particular, an ideology-driven differentiation between the developed and developing political identities of states have been rendered obsolete in the structuring international field. The networking on new European identity has proved that the social capital of states changes their perspectives on ideology. The new networking is derived from a value-specific understanding of political identity beyond ideology and economic growth. The position of European identity is filled by those states who can have a dispositional reflex to answer the international exchanges via certain values which are esteemed by the dominants of the union identity. Therefore, a developed position in the field is shared by developing states who have the potential to answer international law by way of certain values beyond their economic qualification and ideological competence.

Ultimately, to prove the potential of social capital for the transformation of the political identity of state, an exchange system between the developed and developing states and its symbolic construction in the international field should be considered. Similar to the other exchange system between dominant and dominated identities in other social groups,[14] in order to have a recognized position in the international field states take part in a structured exchange system in international relations. Because of the structured nobility of domination, the symbolic dispositions of states embody the values of symbolic capital in accordance with the structured rules of domination and its international law. However, the structuring feature of social capital reveals to us that the exchange system of the international field can be subject to change and transformation. After the fall of the Soviet Union, this transformation of the exchange system become visible. In a nutshell, the embodiment of the distinction between dominated and dominant evolved from the First/Second/Third World to the developing and developed differentiation. In their new positions, developing states re-conceptualize their symbolic dispositions on security and recognition. Formerly, giving military bases to dominant political states within the borders of dominated states was seen as a natural exchange system in exchange for security. In fact, domination symbolically produced its distinction and securitization in this way. In practice, these kinds of actions were seen as presents to show the affiliations of states with a certain security understanding within the international field. The new distinction of developing states transforms this exchange system considerably. The US military invasion in Iraq exercised one of the practical arenas for this change. Although Turkey was one of the prominent actors in these sorts of exchange systems, Turkey did not authorize the use of its territory for the military invasion of Iraq. The new networking system of the developing–developed distinction and its dispositional changes in social capital guided Turkey to produce new dispositions for the understanding of security in the international field. In this way, Turkey took advantage of international law’s rule of the inviolability of state borders as a reference which is originally a tool of the dominant nobility in the international field. As a result of this, transforming the understanding of the exchange system evolves the functionality of the structured doxa of international law between developing and developed states.

Democratization as symbolic violence in the international field

My aim here is to understand the extent of the democratization process of state identities in the international field. As theoretically framed above, there is a considerable adaptation between the democratization processes of developing states and the reproduction of domination in line with the supremacy of cultural capital. The functionalization of democratization in international relations creates distinctive dispositions in different state identities because democratization maintains the justificatory elements of structured domination in a field (Forst, 2015) where the gaps between stratified political subjects – states – are tremendous. In such an international field, the instrumentality of democratization differs in accordance with the positions of states. Because of the structured superiority on legitimate meanings, democratization functions as cultural capital for states’ positioning in the domination of the international field. On the other hand, because of the inability of conscious disposition producing processes regarding structured cultural capital, the democratization process leads to further symbolic violence of dominated state identities. Indeed, to think that the democratization process distributes identities of states equally and enables access to cultural capital for every state corroborates states’ misrecognized dispositions with regards to their positions. In a nutshell, democratization as the cultural capital of neoliberal domination creates a legitimate culture which guarantees a certain legitimate domination in international relations.

Liberal democracy is a qualification for a state to have a dominant position in international relations. This is actually derived from a distinction mechanism of cultural capital to illustrate what counts as a state’s legitimate identity (Wacquant, 2005). In this respect, democratization, as the cultural capital of domination, becomes legitimate violence or symbolic violence for dominated states in international relations. In accordance with the position of dominant states in the international field, democracy characterizes the embodied capital of dominant state identities (Nye, 2013). Dominant states transform this embodied capital into an objectified form via a functionalization of international law in the area of democratic values in neoliberal theorization. In the end, the objectified forms of the democratization processes are imposed into the identities of dominated states via instruments of institutionalized capital, such as the World Bank and the IMF, which institutionalize domination in terms of symbolic violence and democratization engagement. In this way, the neoliberal imagination of democratization actually overturns the social collectiveness of developing or dominated state identities because it destroys the dispositions regarding the solidarity of dominated states (Wacquant, 2004) without having relevant the cultural capital of democracy. The objective principles of political collectivity in any of the developing or dominated states are still quite primitive or uncertain. The collectivization principle of nationality is mostly fractional in these dominated state identities and, therefore, nationality as a vision of division becomes an operational tool to achieve relative recognition in the international field. In this respect, the democratization process discloses weaknesses regarding the principles of collectivization in developing state identities. In practice, nearly all of the practices of democratization in developing state identities failed in the contemporary history of international relations. More importantly, as is seen especially in many crises in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, democratization processes not only deepen the deficiencies of developing countries regarding the principle of political unification but also create new crises between the different principles of collectivity, such as ethnicity or religion, in dominated state identity.

Another core question here is to problematize whether states in dominant positions really support a successful neoliberal democratization process of developing or dominated state identities. Democracy as cultural capital gives a distinctive position in the international field which rewards dominant state identities with a distinctive role in the stratification of international relations. Democratization as symbolic violence maintains the distinction of structured domination in the legitimate understanding of democracy. In this way, the neoliberal engagement of democratization practices in the developing field of international relations creates a pursuance of a legitimate meaning of democracy. This legitimate meaning functionalizes symbolic violence, which vitalizes the demand for a distinctive position of domination (Samuel, 2013), because only dominant states in international relations have sufficient cultural capital to distribute the stratification of identities according to the democratization process in international relations. The symbolic violence of democratization also stabilizes misrecognition on the sine qua non position of domination in the distribution of state identities. In this way, the symbolic violence of neoliberal democratization process produces two important results for roles of domination in the international field. Firstly, it guarantees the functionality regarding the redistribution of stratification of state positions in the international field. Secondly, it monopolizes the further production of symbolic violence by stabilizing the structured distinction of democracy. Distinction emphasizes the capacities of dominant states with regards to valuing the democratic functions of cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1984). On the other hand, it is important for dominant state identities that all other identities of states should pursue the same values and standards for the improvement of their political identities. As the Bourdieusian vision emphasized, this is a standard necessity to be a part of the group identity. In order to define international relations as a political field, the international field is subjectively expected to consist of a group of state identities which share similar experiences, values and expectations. State identities, having similar experiences, compose the political field of international relations. Therefore, dominant states impose democratization to strengthen the group identity of the international field via emphasizing similar experiences in practice. In this way, dominant states contribute a popularization of democracy in the process of democratization because popularization creates a low culture of democracy imitations, thereby maintaining the supremacy of dominant states in the definition of the legitimate meaning of liberal democracy and democratization. In this way, the popularization of democracy reproduces symbolic violence in accordance with high culture and low culture differentiation of democratic values.

The popularization of democracy not only highlights the distinction in the ownership of cultural capital, but also implies differences regarding the functionalization of democracy in dominated and dominant state identities (Layoun, 1997). Due to a lack of cultural capital regarding democratic representation, dominated states function as consumers of structured democracy understanding. Dominant states occupy a relatively well-defined and durable position in accordance with the amount of owned capital (Swartz, 2013). The positions of dominated states in the international field are subjectively obliged to verify their positional competence and effect institutional improvements in democratic representation. In this respect, the dominant states of international field utilize democratic values for the integration of dominant identities on the basis of appropriate language regarding the abstractions of meanings and subjective tones of structured violence. On the other hand, dominated states in the same political field, as the consumers of structured democratic values, are mostly prone to fulfil the structural necessities connected to their recognition in a practical space. Therefore, they do not associate their political judgments to abstract meanings of any moral integration. Dominated state identities embody popularized meanings and principles of democracy in a particular historical space. In a nutshell, the necessity-driven perception of democracy imposes a disadvantaged state of international space onto simple consumers of the understanding of dominant democracy. The democratization process in this framework does not produce a distinctive way of expression and distinctive idiosyncratic democratic values for dominated states. Their constant consumer positions of dominated states in the international field constrain them from being parts of the democracy debates which produce structured structures of the understanding of future democracy and its dispositions.

Bourdieu is also considerably relevant for the reinterpreting of the progressive process in nature of democratization. More precisely, Bourdieusian study in international relations creates discussions to understand whether contemporary democratization concept really is a process and progress in the international field. The implementation of contemporary democratization in the international field justifies the positions of dominant states in democracy debates because it creates an endless process of democratic transformation which does not result in any significant improvement for the democratic bases of dominated state identities. As discussed above, democracy is related to the necessities of recognition for dominated states. Therefore, dominated states collect the most practical principles of democracy in the democratization process of the international field. However, democracy is mostly a symbolic tool to maintain dominant states’ control of cultural capital. Consequently, in order to maintain symbolic violence via a continuous democratization process, dominant states come up with different definitions of democracy at different stages of historical accumulation. In other words, domination in the international field changes the agency of social collectivity, which forms and organizes the appropriate use of values in the political identities of states (Wacquant, 2005). As revealed in the history of political accumulation, democracy is defined by different concepts of domination, such as protective democracy, liberal democracy and neoliberal democracy, in different historical social accumulations of domination, which attribute value to different social collectivities as the guarantor and operator of democratic presences in state identities. Protective democracy supports political collectivity on the basis of institutionalized governmental bodies. In this respect, they idealize the collectivity of nation on the basis of their practical understanding of democracy. This consent of national totality is substituted by liberal democracies because the social collectivity of liberal democracies is derived from civil societies within and beyond the borders. On the other hand, the neoliberal engagement of democracy distributes political collectivity on the basis of privatized cross-border associational institutionalization in similar groups. Neoliberalism destroys all kinds of conventional collectivity regarding the definition of former democracy representations. As a result of this historical evaluation, the continual evaluation of democratic orientation and collectiveness helps domination to maintain its distinctive loyalty in international field. Conversely, these continual changes of democratic orientation preclude the progressive optimism of democratization practices in dominated state identities because the dispositional principles of democracy transform into new forms before disadvantaged or dominated states successfully embody the democratic principles of a certain democracy definition. Therefore, democratization not only imposes the embodiment of predetermined democracy meanings but also puts unequal embodiment of political collectivity formations into action (Wacquant, 2013).

The symbolic violence of democratization also legitimates the power of dominant states regarding judgments on the democratic identification of dominated states. The states which have the social capital of democracy judge the dominated states’ identities. The dispositions of dominated states unconsciously promote the democratization process because of the judgments of domination regarding their positions in the international field. Becoming part of the democratization process actually results in the advertisement of democratic loyalty, which rules out dichotomies between the political identities of dominant and dominated state in the international field. These dichotomies actually depend on the conceptual theatrical bases which originated from different values in democracy and democratization.[15] Democracy is the value of liberalism which aims at guaranteeing fundamental rights between citizens within a territorially bounded political field. However, democratization is a product of neoliberalism, which targets the guarantee of relative gains and accumulation of individuals and groups beyond any territoriality and citizenry definition. Therefore, territorial differentiations are crucial to maintaining dominance over the structures. Eventually, democratization will function as the symbolic violence of otherness which produces relative and competitive loyalty in order to continually reproduce the symbolic violence of control.


This book has attempted to think through how it is possible to have a Bourdieusian approach of the state’s political identity in international relations. Drawing on the sociological tools of Pierre Bourdieu, it has developed a concept of structural constructivism which aims at bringing the intertwined coexistence of structural and ideational productions into the social bodies of political organizations. The political identity of the state is a collective living social entity which is produced, reproduced and transformed by an inseparable structural embodiment into self-produced knowledge, ideas and dispositions. ‘State’ here indicates a political agency in the field of the political sphere which, similar to the individuals within a society, forms an identity in relation to others. In this respect, the political identities of agents cannot be considered separately from the embedded structures which unconsciously influence the dispositions of political agency in international relations. As a result, structural constructivism in international relations not only considers state identity in accordance with conscious productions of knowledge in the international field, but also highlights how different agents have different limitations with regards to embedded structures, which results in a differentiation of tendencies in objective political exchanges.

Structural constructivism is based on a spatial or ‘field-centred’ explanation (Bourdieu, 1984). Therefore, the theoretical implications of structural constructivism depend on a foundation of structural realities. However, these structural realities are not independent from embedded forms of tendencies which form the qualifications of states regarding the production of ideation and identity. In this way, structural constructivism not only improves the interpretive engagements of constructivist international relations, but also avoids the ontological structural dichotomies of materialist and rational international relations. It is important to remember here that structural constructivism emphasizes a distinctive style of structure and identity engagements in international relations. Thus, in line with Bourdieu, we suggest in this book that in order to produce a relevant understanding of the agency and identity problem in international relations, it is necessary to improve a new structure perspective independent from any kind of ontological theorization. By way of the sociological implications of Bourdieu, this book implies that we should avoid the inseparable understanding of structure in international relations. It offers to consider the separation between structured structures from structuring structures, which helps us to understand how agency and identity relations differ within the objective field of practices. The book emphasizes that materialist rationalist theories and ideational constructivist theories of international relations actually focus on different structures, which results in an imperfect understanding of identity and agency relations. As a result of this, the research aimed at showing the productivity of structured and structuring structure perspectives within the field of international relations.

It is clear in this research that I considered identity as the objectified forms of dispositions which depend on an embodiment of accumulated historical structures (Bourdieu, 1990b). Thus, interest and interaction relations do not comprehensively explain state identity. The interactive processes of states are not independent from the unconscious pressure of historical structures. As a result, the interests of states not only indicate mutual exchange processes but also produce the unconscious embedded limits of states. In this respect, I have also developed the consideration of identity as a symbolic power which does not rely on the interests of states because the interests of states mostly explain the positional distribution of states; identity indicates how well states embody different forms of capital. Interests do not indicate states’ identities but identity defines states’ positions, which determine the limits and characteristics of the interests. Consequently, identity as a symbolic power constructs vision and division, which distinguish identities with regards to domination. Symbolic power in the characteristics of identity continually produces and reproduces symbolic violence, which distributes recognition between the political subjects. Symbolic violence is reproduced by way of orienting the unconscious dispositions and then imposing an embedded division of domination (Bourdieu, 1998b). Such a production process, I have argued, is necessary to objectify the hierarchical distribution of positions in international relations. I have also argued that subjects/states as the producers of their own identities never obtain identical structural tendencies and, therefore, the dispositions of states represent a symbolic vision and division of domination. In this way, because the distinctive embodiment of dispositions defines the positional distribution of state identity, which indicates the relative independence and dependence of states from the structuring symbolic violence of the international field.

In line with constructivism, the interactions of states should be seen as a productive force of common practices and norms in the field of states. However, the subjective capital of states distinguishes the interpretive qualifications of states. In this way, my approach identified the functionalization of identity as symbolic power. I have argued that, while political identity functions as the legitimization of embedded domination for some states, it represents the embodiment of symbolic violence for other states within the same international field. I have argued that historical changes in political subjects and their characteristics of structure–agency relations do not transform this functionalization of symbolic violence. I have shown that interactions between political identities always objectify a distinctive form of recognition which legitimizes particular forms of symbolic violence between all of the subjects in the field. Consequently, the sovereignty of modern states represents a sort of legitimization which creates a certain vision of division and its symbolic violence of domination. Therefore, identity may be subject to change but, due to the unequal distribution of structured structures in the identity of political subjectivity, interrelations between domination, legitimate symbolic power and violence will be continually reproduced in different characteristics and forms.

I have shown how the Bourdieusian understanding of field must adapt to contribute to structure and state relations. Whilst my fundamental aim in this research is to transfer a Bourdieusian structural constructivist approach into the field of international relations, I have also considered that this approach will not achieve a counter-concept to the existing literature; rather, it will contribute inadequate applications of identity and structure relations in the constructivist understanding. In this way, I utilize a Bourdieusian understanding of field in order to show that international relations is a sphere which consists of many different fields of struggle. These different fields of struggle are distributed in accordance with the accumulated amount of dispositions in accumulated historical social structure (Bourdieu, 1986). The amount of compatibility/incompatibility between accumulated history and structuring objective field indicates which positions political subjects take within the sphere of international relations. By utilizing Bourdieu’s field approach, developed in this research alongside the state ‘capital’ concept of Bourdieu in relation to the political identities of states, I also illustrated how ‘field’ defines the relative categorization of state identity. In doing this, my objective was to contribute a construction of power relations in accordance with the characteristics of classification in different fields of struggle.

In order to develop the conceptual framework utilized in this book, I also problematized the understanding of reality in international relations via Bourdieusian sociological understanding (Bourdieu, 1995a). Because of the dispositional inequality between the states, states’ identities are linked to different positions in the field of practice. I argued that dispositional differences are contributed by different rules of the game as social realities which function as sources for political constraints or the symbolic violence of state identities in accordance with their positioning in the dominated–dominant relations of the field. On this point, I meant that, contrary to realist and rationalist approaches, the positioning of states in the international field is independent from the structural deterministic rules, but, due to the differentiated compatibility of states regarding structured nobility, realities in international relations are reproduced by dispositional constraints which are derived from the unequal foundation of structured structures within the dispositions of different state identities. Furthermore, I emphasized that these dispositional constraints always exist under the exchange system of a patriarchal balance. A patriarchal system of balance is distinctively reproduced in every historical system of political organization because this system defines the realities that indicate how political subjects exchange knowledge in accordance with their determined positioning and its limited engagement of nobility.

Final implications

I have tried to discuss the potential transformations of state identity beyond the international field of modernity. I have argued that the contemporary structuring field is experiencing a changing interpretation of capital allocation which depends on a distinctive style of political recognition and legitimization. When the new allocation of political subjectivity and its identity influenced the structuring structures, it firstly tried to render political identities, divisions and institutionalizations of modern states non-functional and inoperable. The changing capital allocation of the modern political field is creating new forms of governance which objects to classical modern state subjectivity and its identity, institutionalization and classification of international relations. In this respect, I have argued that changing capital allocation contributes to the construction of socially collective identities, such as the EU, which represents a distinctive capital allocation in a distinctive classification and its field of practice. I asserted that the new capital allocation of the post-structural world contributes to a new harmonization of discursive doxic realities and dispositions of state identity beyond any constructive knowledgeable consciousness of states. Consequently, I also emphasized that this process renders the justification and legitimacy forms of modern state identity obsolete in a new supranational – as well as micro-localized – field of struggles.

An important conclusion derived from research on economic capital proved that Bourdieusian political economy in international relations contributes to the existing constructivist international political economy. By considering Bourdieusian political economy, I discussed that economic capital not only contributes to economic interactions between states, but also relies on the structured structures which represent divisions of state positions. In this respect, by occupying a certain positioning in the international field, states objectify their dispositional tendencies of economic capital before they produce their conscious interactions. Therefore, I argued that the economic interests of states originate from the dispositional and unconscious ideations which represent states’ positioning in the international field. As a result of this, I also questioned whether the constructivist understanding of norms is unable to express the economic interests of states because the economic capital of states is fundamentally derived from taken-for-granted knowledge represented by the doxic realities of the international economic field. These doxic realities form the economic interests of states before they produce interactions in the international field. In this way, I inferred that the cultural capital of states also have central roles in producing meaningful economic interests because states in the same international field are involved in the same taken-for-granted reflexes of economics, but only few states’ cultural capital support compatible nobility. Indeed, states interact in capitalist forms of practices but the cultural language of capitalism is unequally found in the identities of states. In line with these discussions, moreover, I indicated how contemporary neoliberal economy impairs the sense of limits of modern state-based economic capital. Through a Bourdieusian lens, I basically examined that the neoliberal economy imagines a distinctive economic field and doxic realities, which aim to quash all collective bases and institutions of modern state identities. I also discussed that neoliberalism produces its vision and division via the new forms of symbolic violence which de-function the economic field of modernity.

The other important components of state identity in this research was social capital, which examined via the methodological concepts of democratization and the developing state respectively. In line with the Bourdieusian framework, the reproduction of state identity is always embedded in dominated–dominant relations which misrecognize inequalities in cultural capital as the morality of the international field. Thus, I also examined the role of social capital with regards to the reproduction and change of structured hierarchy. Afterwards, I discussed Bourdieusian forms of cultural capital, which helped me to understand how these forms are found in the field of international relations. In order to understand these forms of cultural capital, I took advantage of the contemporary democratization understanding as a methodological concept which differently functions as cultural capital for domination and symbolic violence for dominated state identities. In addition to this, I also argued that, similar to individuals in societies, states distinguish their identity in accordance with produced social networking and relations. Indeed, I averred that state identities struggle to produce better social capital allocations in the field of international relations. Because of a lack of networking, social capital imposes an unequal distribution of subjective materials, which results in a stratification of the states. Social capital imposes certain networking styles which contributes to domination (Bourdieu, 1986). Here I argued that, when institutionalization was based on nationalism, certain European states constructed better social networking because they had already embodied legitimate justifiable bases of nationalistic values in comparison with other states. In this way, I inferred that social capital interprets the nobility of certain states as the legitimate networking styles of the international field. I tried to exemplify these functions of social capital via a methodological concept of the Third World state because the Third World concept indicates a categorization and positioning of states in accordance with their superiority/inadequacy in the networking of social capital.

In addition to the finding above, this research improved a Bourdieusian perspective which resolves the ontological fallacy and dilemma in the constructivist perspective. In line with rationalist international relations perspectives, constructivism similarly defines the international field by way of anarchy, despite that fact that its understanding of anarchy is not based on a pure materialistic understanding. I found that the Bourdieusian understanding of field and habitus perspectives are very productive to come off this constructivist dilemma. On this point, I justified that the international field is not an anarchical sphere in both cultural and objective senses. States, as modern political subjects, are conscious about what they observed in structuring structures, but they are unconscious about their dispositional habitus, which promotes their positioning in interactions of field. In this respect, if a state lacks the appropriate capital allocation of habitus derived from an unconscious embodiment of structured structures, the structuring world of interactions produces inconvenience of practices, as like a ‘social and political anomia’, and, therefore, the structuring world becomes symbolic violence for this state. Consequently, I discussed that the inconvenience of states is derived from habitual limits and constraints of structured structure before they produce a meaning of anarchy in interactions. In this way, I inferred that structured structures do not materialistically characterize the nature of states, but they symbolically constitute and affect states’ perceptions, which unconsciously produce dispositions of symbolic violence as opposed to the superiority of domination in structured capital allocation. In other words, the unconscious foundation of structured history in state dispositions impairs theorization of any ontological consideration of conscious/interactional or material/genetic understanding of anarchy in international relations.

Through a Bourdieusian lens, I also found out the necessity and appropriateness of a structural constructivist understanding of international relations. As I discussed in the paragraph above, it is not possible to explain the foundation of state subjectivity and identity by looking only at the interactions or structures of the international field. The constructivist side of Bourdieusian conceptualization provides a basis for understanding the state as a social entity, similar to individuals living in a society, which is limited by habitus and its objective positioning in the field of struggles. In other words, states have habitus which affects their perception of interest and identities. The structural side of Bourdieusian theorization reminds me that states unconsciously produce structured violence, vision and division which are not genetic characteristics of state identity, but rather practical tendencies of the past history of habitus originating from a limited distribution of dispositional knowledge and doxic experiences into the identities of states. Therefore, Bourdieu helped me to understand the foundation of past experiences, visions and divisions in the conscious interactions of states within totally social processes without applying any ontological postulate, and also structuring the character of interactions for the future characterization of political identity without forgetting the double-structured foundation of the objective international field. An important theoretical result derived from this is that states do not always have constitutive control over their interests and ideas, because the symbolic foundation of the past evaluates their identities in accordance with the foundation of past domination into their dispositions. Indeed, interactions produce meanings of identities but only some states, which have a considerable amount symbolic capital, can define the meaning of identities; many others can only apply and use these produced meanings, which become the symbolic violence of their struggles in the international field.

Another important finding of the research is to see that we should act with suspicion towards shared ideas of the international field. States embody pre-given and misrecognized tendencies of accumulated history, derived from structured structures, which are represented by shared ideas, and, then, institutionalized by objective norms. Therefore, social construction is generally interested in the construction of knowledge and its institutionalization, but fails to notice structural influences in the ‘construction of constructors’ and their identities. Different states are equipped with a distinctive and restricted amount of capital which originates from accumulated history. This inequality in the distribution of accumulated historical knowledge and experience in state identity results in an unequal participation of shared ideas, which means a simple confirmation of produced knowledge rather than a co-production of the common knowledge of the international field. Consequently, the restricted structured qualification of state identity affects creators’/states’ perceptions with regards to their own identity. States form their knowledge in line with their limited dispositions in their habitus, which imposes a consensus on distinctions and divisions in the international field. Therefore, shared ideas also mean a consensus on positioning in the international field. For example, one of the inseparable principles of being a state is to have a group of people called nations. This principle actually represents the knowledge and experience of European states, but it is also confirmed by other states even though they do not take the same form of national identity. The UAE and Kuwait have tebaa (people) instead of citizens, but, in order to confirm the shared ideas of the international field, they embody a shared knowledge of the international field regarding nationality. Similarly, many subjects of shared ideas in the international field, such as human rights and free trade, were fundamentally produced by only a limited number of states, but these principles became the shared ideas of all members of international relations. As a result, shared knowledge is mainly an illusio which produces a structuring qualification of domination and its classification.

Culture, derived from the habitual unconscious tendencies of states, is no less important than culture, which is derived from interactions. It is true that interactions produce ideas and knowledge, but they also objectify the subjective embodiment of states in the field. States promote the knowledge production processes of the field in accordance with their capital. Owing to the fact that capital allocation symbolizes structured limitations, visions and division, the culture of interactions also objectifies the visions and divisions of the symbolic field. In other words, interactions cannot directly produce classifications and divisions; they only objectify structured symbolic habitus. On this point, Bourdieu distinctively indicates the importance and limit of the self-reflexivity of subjects regarding their own identity. Realizing a high level of self-reflexivity results in a better positioning with regards to the reproduction of self-identity. Otherwise, state identity is predisposed by the pressures of the structured nobility and the tendencies of habitus. In this way, when a state reflects its dispositions it also examines the structured classification of domination. In this respect, I inferred that existing constructivist approaches generally focus on the structuring world, which is constituted by the relation of the systems of modern European culture and states; therefore, they are only relevant to obtaining a comprehensive understanding of European and Anglo-Saxon states and identities. Owing to the domination of structured habits, the remaining identities of states outside the domain of European relations are unable to promote a conscious culture of the field. At this point, Bourdieusian self-reflexivity understanding questions the Europeanized constructivist understanding of the state, and, therefore, provides a more comprehensive understanding of culture, structure and identity relations, which indicates not only a positioning of domination but also examines the positioning and limitations of states in the dominated field of practice. In practical international relations, this inadequacy of constructivism is particularly observed by many structuring organs of the international field such as the United Nations. Although the identities of many states, culturally and habitually, are derived from undemocratic characteristics, all of the states in in the United Nations General Assembly obey and practise democratic delegation systems, because their disposed culture does not provide any appropriate way to promote the structuring norms in international relations. Consequently, a Bourdieusian understanding of culture and self-reflexivity in structuring and structured structures explains why a state that has undemocratic characteristics in its habitus needs to obey democratic rules and exchanges if their identities are tyrannized by the characteristics of the undemocratic dispositions in their habitus.

Eventually, another very important discussion of this book is that Bourdieusian sociological terminology is very productive for reinterpreting the existing discussions and also for creating a new distinctive field of perspectives in international relations. Bourdieu provides rich theoretical concepts and research tools which not only contribute to identity and state subjectivity but also answer many other theoretical questions in international relations. In particular, field, capital and habitus are very productive theoretical tools for understanding power domination and classification in international relations. Furthermore, symbolic violence, nobility and doxa relations are also essential theoretical concepts for reinterpreting the structure and agency relations of international relations, which highlight how the institutionalization of international field, especially norms and sovereignty, can be identified. In addition to this, identifying state identity in accordance with struggles on not only political and economic capital, but also social and cultural capital, is also relevant to understanding how the bureaucratic field is reproduced and transformed. Unconsciousness in disposition and habitus relations is important to research future expansions in the stratification of globalizing political identity and its international relations imagination. To sum up, beyond the existing international relations approaches, Bourdieu provides appropriate knowledge for evaluating states as a social organism, consisting of the totalized structured habitus of different social groups.


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Abdelal 10, 11, 12, 13, 81

Adams 53, 81

Adkins 50, 81

Adler 4, 6, 46, 81, 89

Africa 68

Albert 31, 81

anarchy 2, 6, 54, 77

Anglo-Saxon 19, 79

Ashley 5, 81

Asia 68


Barkin 4, 81

Bartelson 5, 81

Biersteker 5, 81, 83

Bottero 56, 81

Bourdieu 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 48, 50, 54, 55, 57, 58, 60, 62, 63, 65, 66, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 85, 86, 88, 89

Bourdieusian 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 29, 41, 42, 44, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52, 59, 60, 63, 65, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80

bourgeois class 28

Brehm 40, 82

Burawoy 49, 82

Burt 41, 45, 83

Butenschøn 50, 83


capital of obligations 48, 51, 52, 54

capital regime 23

capitalism 18, 21, 76

China 19, 20, 62

Christoforou 55, 59, 64, 83, 85

citizenship 25, 27, 34, 50, 86, 87

civic engagements 41, 42

classification 19, 21, 32, 33, 44, 52, 58, 74, 75, 79, 80

Cleaver 47, 83

Coleman 40, 41, 42, 83

collective ideas 24

common reflex 18

conscious 3, 4, 6, 9, 15, 17, 19, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 49, 50, 53, 54, 55, 67, 72, 75, 77, 78, 79

constructivism 2, 4, 8, 11, 12, 43, 50, 51, 52, 72, 73, 77, 79, 81, 84, 87, 88

constructivist 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 43, 44, 46, 49, 50, 54, 72, 74, 75, 77, 79, 83, 84, 88

corporate welfare 26

Cox 28, 83

cultural capital 10, 40, 41, 47, 54, 62, 67, 68, 69, 70, 76, 80


Deer 18, 83

democratization 10, 48, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 76, 87

developing state 10, 48, 49, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 76

distribution of wealth 21, 23

domination 10, 11, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 44, 48, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 58, 60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 70, 71, 73, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 82

Doty 5, 83

doxa 17, 18, 29, 37, 56, 58, 61, 67, 80

doxic 8, 18, 75, 76, 78

Doyle 20, 83

Duménil 25, 83


economic capital 8, 9, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 27, 28, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 48, 52, 61, 63, 64, 65, 75, 80

economic classes 28

economic field 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 19, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 36, 76

emancipation 24, 34, 35, 36, 37

European 19, 31, 35, 49, 52, 53, 56, 65, 76, 78, 79, 81, 84, 85, 86, 87

European identity 31, 65

European Union 31, 49, 52, 53, 65, 85


Field 42, 49, 51, 53, 83

Finger 22, 83

Finnemore 5, 8, 10, 83, 84

Forst 67, 84

Fraser 30, 31, 84

Fuchs 38, 83, 84

Fukuyama 40, 41, 84


Gallarotti 54, 84

GDP 19, 60

gender inequality 50

Germany 19

globalization 9, 13, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 83, 88, 89, 90

glocalization 9, 28

Grande 10, 84

Greig 59, 84

Guzzini 3, 46, 84


habitus 3, 8, 9, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 35, 37, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 60, 62, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 85, 89

Hague codifications 8

Harris 50, 52, 84

Hedetoft 29, 84

hierarchy 18, 54, 55, 56, 76

Holstein 50, 52, 84

Hopf 46, 84

Hoy 52, 85

Hughes 55, 85

human capital 40, 88

hybridization 9, 29, 32


illusio 79

image fees 22

IMF 61, 68

Inayatullah 7, 55, 85

inequality 10, 28, 30, 33, 37, 41, 43, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 74, 78, 81, 83, 84, 88

Inglehart 40, 85

interactionist 8, 15

international field 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 23, 29, 31, 34, 37, 42, 46, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80

international law 37, 49, 58, 64, 65, 66, 67

international political economy 8, 11, 14, 17, 75, 81

international relations 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 20, 37, 44, 47, 49, 54, 57, 60, 62, 63, 64, 66, 67, 68, 70, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 81, 83, 84, 85, 86, 89

inter-subjective 11, 12, 13, 15, 46, 49, 51, 54, 56

Iraq 66


Jacobs 40, 85


Katzenstein 5, 6, 85

Kauppi 11, 19, 85

Keohane 5, 20, 85

Kingsbury 61, 85

Klotz 12, 85

Knoke 40, 85

Krugman 24, 85

Kuokkanen 48, 85

Kuwait 78


Lainé 18, 85

Latin America 68

Layoun 69, 86

Lebaron 13, 86

legitimacy 5, 9, 10, 16, 27, 57, 75

Lesser 42, 86

Liberal democracy 67

Liberman 20, 86

Lin 41, 62, 83, 86

Linklater 6, 7, 86


Mäki 12, 86, 89

material 4, 5, 6, 11, 14, 19, 40, 46, 48, 62, 64, 77

McNay 50, 86

misrecognition 9, 24, 26, 50, 51, 68

Mitchell 20, 86

modernity 4, 9, 20, 26, 28, 30, 31, 34, 37, 53, 75, 76, 81

mutual recognition 44, 46, 47, 49


Nahapiet 40, 86

neoliberal 9, 17, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 67, 68, 70, 76

neoliberalism 9, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34, 37, 38, 71, 76, 82, 83, 84

NGOs 51

nobility 22, 29, 31, 57, 58, 64, 65, 66, 74, 76, 79, 80, 82

Norberg-Hodge 28, 86

normative 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 15, 23, 37, 41, 47, 55, 64

norms 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 15, 17, 19, 20, 27, 38, 42, 49, 54, 73, 75, 78, 79, 80, 81, 85

Nye 67, 86


objective relations 13, 16

O'Brien 13, 86

Onuf 44, 86


Palan 13, 87

Parry 71, 87

patriarchic 47

Peet 59, 87

political identity 3, 6, 21, 23, 31, 34, 36, 44, 47, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 64, 65, 66, 72, 73, 78, 80

Portes 40, 48, 53, 87

Power 6, 46, 85

Price 4, 87

puritan culture 19

Putnam 40, 41, 42, 47, 87


rationalism 6, 11

recognition 7, 10, 30, 38, 41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 50, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 63, 66, 68, 69, 70, 73, 75, 84, 85

re-collectivization 9, 29, 32

Reus-Smit 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 87

Risse 14, 87

Robertson 9, 87

Rocco 6, 87

Rose 41, 87

Rosenau 6, 38, 88

Ruggie 10, 88


Samuel 68, 88

Sassen 21, 88

Scholte 21, 25, 32, 88

Schultz 40, 88

Schwalbe 51, 88

Seabrooke 13, 15, 88

self-determination 8

self-reflexivity 50, 52, 53, 79

sense of limit 9, 21, 23, 26, 29, 30

sense of limits 29, 76

sense of reality 9, 20, 25, 26, 27

Shelton 14, 88

Shilling 44, 88

Short 23, 88

Shotwell 17, 88

social capital 3, 9, 10, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 71, 76, 82, 83, 85, 86, 87

social construction 3, 8, 11, 15, 19, 44, 78, 87, 89

social stratification 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 34, 35, 38, 48, 57, 64

sovereignty 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 54, 58, 74, 80, 81, 83, 84, 86, 87

Starr 25, 88

state identity 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 45, 46, 47, 49, 56, 59, 60, 61, 64, 65, 68, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80

Stiglitz 23, 26, 88

structural constructivist 43

Susen 57, 88

sustainable inequality 56

Swartz 44, 55, 63, 69, 88

Sweetman 53, 89

symbolic capital 29, 30, 46, 47, 66, 78

symbolic violence 2, 36, 37, 38, 67, 68, 70, 71, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 80


taba’iyya 50

Teeple 36, 89

the Middle East 50, 68, 83

the Second World War 19

The UAE 78

the United Nations 51, 79

The US 26, 66

the World Bank 68

Third World 48, 49, 51, 59, 66, 77

Thomson 6, 89

Throop 49, 89

Tocqueville 40, 83

Towney 16, 89

Treaty of Westphalia 7

Tuomela 12, 89

Turkey 66


Unger 23, 89

universalization 26, 28, 45


Veseth 22, 89

Vogel 38, 89


Wacquant 16, 40, 44, 62, 65, 67, 70, 81, 89

Waltz 5, 89

Warren 48, 89

Wendt 4, 5, 6, 7, 89

Wien Conference 7

Woods 29, 90

[1] For an overview of the rise of constructivist international relations theory, see Reus-Smit (2001a).

[2] For further discussion, see Barkin & Cronin (1994).

[3] For these rationalist claims, see Waltz (1993) and Keohane (1989).

[4] Meanwhile, importantly, the de-constructivist theorists claim that one needs to think the genealogy of the normative justification and ontological construction of sovereignty. For further information, see Bartelson (1995).

[5] For a good discussion on this subject, see Wendt (1994).

[6] For further information, see Finnemore (1996a).

[7] The term means the simultaneous and intertwined presences of localization and globalization. It indicates that globalisation can be integrated into the local values peacefully. For more information, Robertson (1995)

[8] For further discussions regarding the subject, see (Mäki, 2002)

[9] Objective relations here not only indicate actions between different positions but also highlight position taking which carries out how to reflect understanding of occupied positions and preserve these positions: see Towney, (2014); Bourdieu & Wacquant, (1992).

[10] For more information, see Vogel (2006).

[11] Warren (2004, p. 18): ‘the theory of social capital in ways that help distinguish better and worse kinds of social capital … more political, economic, and cultural democracy exists, the more likely social capital will function in good ways. The argument for democracy is simple: democracy tends toward more equal empowerments of individuals. Empowerments are generative: by reducing vulnerabilities they act directly on the precursors of association, which in turn provides individuals with social capital they can use to resist imposed externalities. In theory, more egalitarian distributions of social capital should, reduce the tendencies for social capital to produce social bads such as political corruption.’

[12] In this research, patriarchy indicates autocratic dominance in power relation and social stratification beyond its popular and common usage, which refers to male domination in gender-related social and political studies.

[13] For a developmental agenda which is mostly contributed by IMF and World Bank perspectives, see Kingsbury (2012).

[14] For further reading, see Bourdieu (2005).

[15] For more information, see Parry & Moran (1994).

93 of 93 pages


Bourdieusian Structural Constructivism and State Identity. Rethinking Economic and Social Capital in International Relations
Bielefeld University  (bghs)
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Boudieusian, Construcivism, identity, international relations, Structural, state, neoliberalism
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Omer Ozgor (Author), 2016, Bourdieusian Structural Constructivism and State Identity. Rethinking Economic and Social Capital in International Relations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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