Earlier today I asserted that “sociology’s natural client base is undergoing a shift from government and social services trying to treat broad populations, to private-sector actors and entrepreneurs trying to engage particularized audiences” (link). I contend this shift is a historical outcome of advanced capitalism. Empirically, the shift is made possible by new social structure: the internet — namely, the kinds of intellectual property, data, and data-needs the internet introduces into entrepreneurial action.
This shift toward business as a natural audience for sociology is a result of sociology’s new ideas, too. For example, a piece of contemporary social theory relevant to economic actors is Bourdieu’s definition of capital as multiple in nature and encompassing not only the economic, but also the cultural, the political, the social. Following Bourdieu, the character of capital became contextual (i.e. “field”-dependent) — itself a focus of inquiry. Bourdieu wrote:
It is in fact impossible to account for the
structure and functioning of the social world unless one reintroduces capital in all its forms and not solely in the one form recognized by economic theory.
A general science of the economy of practices, capable of reappropriating the totality of the practices which, although objectively economic, are not and cannot be totally recognized as economic, and which ran be performed only at the cost of a whole labor of dissimulation or, more precisely, euphemization, must endeavor to grasp capital and profit in all their forms and to establish the laws whereby the different types of capital (or power, which amounts to the same thing) change into one another.
Would anybody today consult business actors to define their own ‘capital’ concerns narrowly and solely in an economic sense, or broadly, in a Bourdieuian formulation that includes social, cultural, political and other forms of capital?