Bourdieu, strategy and the field of power

Charles Harvey, Ruomei Yang, Frank Mueller, Mairi Maclean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)
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Drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of the field of power, we examine the cross-national translation of organizational models and the strategic processes induced in recipient institutional contexts. By means of an in-depth historical case study, we demonstrate how elite strategists mobilized networks and symbolic capital to disrupt field relations and embed the US community foundation model of philanthropy in North East England. Our findings suggest that instead of simply copying alien field-level practices, strategic actors within the philanthropic field adapted and modified them to deliver fit-for-context change legitimated by support from the regional power elite. Our main contribution is to show how strategic elites drawn from different life-worlds build coalitions within the field of power to modify institutional infrastructures and embed innovative organizational models, simultaneously bolstering their legitimacy and symbolic capital. We hold that the field of power construct offers uniquely valuable insights into how strategic elites accomplish institutional change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102199
Number of pages40
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Early online date27 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bourdieu
  • Elites
  • Field of power
  • Institutional work
  • Non-market strategy
  • Symbolic capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Information Systems and Management


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