Pierre Bourdieu, the “Cultural Turn” and the practice of international history

Jackson, P. (2008) Pierre Bourdieu, the “Cultural Turn” and the practice of international history. Review of International Studies, 34(1), pp. 155-181. (doi: 10.1017/S026021050800795X)

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The rise of the ‘cultural turn’ has breathed new life into the practice of international history over the past few decades. Cultural approaches have both broadened and deepened interpretations of the history of international relations. This article focuses on the use of culture as an explanatory methodology in the study of international history. It outlines the two central criticisms often made of this approach. The first is that it suffers from a lack of analytical rigour in both defining what culture is and understanding how it shapes individual and collective policy decisions. The second is that it too often leads to a tendency to exaggerate the importance of the cultural predispositions of individual or collective actors at the expense of the wider structures within which policymaking takes place. The article provides a brief outline of the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu – which focuses on the interaction between the cultural orientations of social actors and the structural environment that conditions their strategies and decisions. It then argues that Bourdieu’s conceptual framework can provide the basis for a more systematic approach to understanding the cultural roots of policymaking and that international historians would benefit from engagement with his approach.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jackson, Professor Peter
Authors: Jackson, P.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DC France
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JZ International relations
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Review of International Studies
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Published Online:01 January 2008
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2008 British International Studies Association
First Published:First published in Review of International Studies 34(1):155-181
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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