Business elites and the field of power in France

Mairi Maclean, Charles Harvey, Gerhard Kling

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

13 Citations (SciVal)
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Bourdieu’s construct of the field of power has received relatively little attention despite its novelty and theoretical potential. This paper explores the meaning and implications of the construct, and integrates it into a wider conception of the formation and functioning of elites at the highest level in society. Drawing on an extensive dataset profiling the careers of members of the French business elite, it compares and contrasts those who enter the field of power with those who fail to qualify for membership, exploring why some succeed as hyper-agents while others do not. The alliance of social origin and educational attainment, class and meritocracy, emerges as particularly compelling. The field of power is shown to be relatively variegated and fluid, connecting agents from different life worlds. Methodologically, this paper connects biographical data of top French directors with the field of power in France in a novel way, while presenting an operationalization of Bourdieu’s concept of the field of power as applied to the French elite.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElites on Trial
EditorsG. Morgan, P. Hirsch, S. Quack
Place of PublicationBingley, U. K.
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9781784416805
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Organizations


  • Bourdieu, elite careers, field of power, French business elites, hyper-agency, power


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