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Political capital is a metaphor used in political theory to conceptualize the accumulation of resources and power built through relationships, trust, goodwill, and influence between politicians or parties and other stakeholders, such as constituents. Political capital can be understood as a type of currency used to mobilize voters, achieve policy reform, or accomplish other political goals. Although not a literal form of capital, political capital is often described as a type of credit, or a resource that can be banked, spent or misspent, invested, lost, and saved.
In economics, capital consists of an asset that can enhance one's power to perform economically useful work. For example, in a fundamental sense a stone or an arrow is capital for a caveman who can use it as a hunting instrument, while roads are capital for inhabitants of a city.
Some thinkers distinguish between reputational and representative political capital. Reputational capital refers to a politician’s credibility and reliability. This form of capital is accumulated by maintaining consistent policy positions and ideological views. Representative capital refers to a politician’s influence in policy-setting. This form of capital is accumulated through experience, seniority, and serving in leadership positions.Thus, political capital—reputational and representative—is the product of relationships between opinion (public impressions), policy (legislative rewards/penalties), and political judgement (prudent decision-making).
Credibility comprises the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message.
Pierre Bourdieu is often credited with developing the most popular theories of political capital (as well as social capital) in his 1991 book Language and Symbolic Power. However, the concept of political capital was introduced to political theory in 1961 by American political scientist Edward C. Banfield in his book Political Influence. Banfield described political capital as a "stock of influence" which might be built "by 'buying' a bit here and there from the many small 'owners' who were endowed with it by the constitution-makers"—that is, political capital can be used for types of exchange between politicians or between politicians and voters.Like money, Banfield says, political capital must be spent and saved wisely or a politician would be "out of business" before long.
Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher and public intellectual.
Social capital broadly refers to those factors of effectively functioning social groups that include such things as interpersonal relationships, a shared sense of identity, a shared understanding, shared norms, shared values, trust, cooperation, and reciprocity. However, the many views of this complex subject make a single definition difficult.
Edward Christie Banfield was an American political scientist, best known as the author of The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (1958), and The Unheavenly City (1970). One of the leading scholars of his generation, Banfield was an adviser to three Republican presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. Banfield began his academic career at the University of Chicago, where he was a friend and colleague of Leo Strauss and Milton Friedman.
Bourdieu's theory of political capital further elaborates on the metaphor of money and the concept of capital itself. In "The Forms of Capital", Bourdieu defines capital as "accumulated labor (in its materialized form or its 'incorporated,' embodied form) which, when appropriated...by agents or groups of agents, enables them to appropriate social energy in the form of reified or living labor."Political capital, then, is how symbolically understood capital functions within a political system: it is a form of credit accumulated by politicians, which can be used to accomplish other goals, such as the work required to pass legislation or achieve reelection.
There are a variety of approaches within political theory to measuring political capital as a way of analyzing its influence on local, regional, state, national, and international politics. Political capital is sometimes theorized about in terms of objectification, or applying concrete forms to the otherwise abstract concept. Some theorists consider things like the number of votes, people present at a meeting, protesters present at a march, money donated to a political campaign, public opinion survey results, and other factors to be objectified or material and measurable elements of political capital.
Theorists also consider political capital within a framework of instrumental and structural elements; instrumental political capital is made up of available resources, such as funding, while structural political capital shapes decision-making processes.
A politician gains political capital by winning elections, pursuing policies that have public support, achieving success with initiatives, and performing favors for other politicians.
Political capital must be spent to be useful and will generally expire by the end of a politician's term in office.[ citation needed ] In addition, it can be wasted, typically by failed attempts to promote unpopular policies that are not central to a politician's agenda. American President George W. Bush claimed to have earned "political capital" after his 2004 re-election.
Political capital is highest in the "honeymoon period" of a presidency as in the United States, where the president is newly elected and the people still support the person they voted for.[ citation needed ] Along with the president's popularity are those who ride on the "coattails", congressional representatives of the president's party that are elected alongside the president. This support in congress enables the president to better use the honeymoon period and political capital to pass ideal legislation.[ citation needed ]
Habitus is ingrained habits, skills and dispositions. It is the way that individuals perceive the social world around them and react to it. These dispositions are usually shared by people with similar backgrounds. The habitus is acquired through imitation (mimesis) and is the reality that individuals are socialized, which includes their individual experience and opportunities. Thus, the habitus represents the way group culture and personal history shape the body and the mind; as a result, it shapes present social actions of an individual.
Rational choice theory, also known as choice theory or rational action theory, is a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior. The basic premise of rational choice theory is that aggregate social behavior results from the behavior of individual actors, each of whom is making their individual decisions. The theory also focuses on the determinants of the individual choices.
Participatory democracy emphasizes the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Etymological roots of democracy imply that the people are in power and thus that all democracies are participatory. However, participatory democracy tends to advocate more involved forms of citizen participation and greater political representation than traditional representative democracy.
In sociology and anthropology, symbolic capital can be referred to as the resources available to an individual on the basis of honor, prestige or recognition, and serves as value that one holds within a culture. A war hero, for example, may have symbolic capital in the context of running for political office.
In the social sciences there is a standing debate over the primacy of structure or agency in shaping human behaviour. Structure is the recurrent patterned arrangements which influence or limit the choices and opportunities available. Agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. The structure versus agency debate may be understood as an issue of socialization against autonomy in determining whether an individual acts as a free agent or in a manner dictated by social structure.
In the field of sociology, cultural capital comprises the social assets of a person that promote social mobility in a stratified society. Cultural capital functions as a social-relation within an economy of practices, and comprises all of the material and symbolic goods, without distinction, that society considers rare and worth seeking. As a social relation within a system of exchange, cultural capital includes the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers social status and power.
In sociology, taste is an individual's personal, cultural and aesthetic patterns of choice and preference. Taste is drawing distinctions between things such as styles, manners, consumer goods, and works of art and relating to these. Social inquiry of taste is about the human ability to judge what is beautiful, good, and proper.
Noocracy, or "aristocracy of the wise", as originally defined by Plato, is a system of governance where decision making is in the hands of philosophers, similar to his idea of Philosopher kings. The idea was further expanded upon by geologist Vladimir Vernadsky, and philosophers Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Édouard Le Roy, and their concept of the Noosphere.
Doxa is a Greek word meaning common belief or popular opinion. In classical rhetoric, doxa is contrasted with episteme (knowledge).
The concept of symbolic power was first introduced by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu to account for the tacit, almost unconscious modes of cultural/social domination occurring within the everyday social habits maintained over conscious subjects. Symbolic power accounts for discipline used against another to confirm that individual's placement in a social hierarchy, at times in individual relations but most basically through system institutions, in particular education.
The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is mostly concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing education.
Cultural reproduction is the transmission of existing cultural values and norms from generation to generation. Cultural reproduction refers to the mechanisms by which continuity of cultural experience is sustained across time. Cultural reproduction often results in social reproduction, or the process of transferring aspects of society from generation to generation.
Sexual capital or erotic capital is the social value an individual or group accrues as a result of their sexual attractiveness. As with other forms of capital, sexual capital is convertible, and may be useful in acquiring other forms of capital, including social capital and economic capital.
Classical pluralism is the view that politics and decision making are located mostly in the framework of government, but that many non-governmental groups use their resources to exert influence. The central question for classical pluralism is how power and influence are distributed in a political process. Groups of individuals try to maximize their interests. Lines of conflict are multiple and shifting as power is a continuous bargaining process between competing groups. There may be inequalities but they tend to be distributed and evened out by the various forms and distributions of resources throughout a population. Any change under this view will be slow and incremental, as groups have different interests and may act as "veto groups" to destroy legislation. The existence of diverse and competing interests is the basis for a democratic equilibrium, and is crucial for the obtaining of goals by individuals. A polyarchy—a situation of open competition for electoral support within a significant part of the adult population—ensures competition of group interests and relative equality. Pluralists stress civil rights, such as freedom of expression and organization, and an electoral system with at least two parties. On the other hand, since the participants in this process constitute only a tiny fraction of the populace, the public acts mainly as bystanders. This is not necessarily undesirable for two reasons: (1) it may be representative of a population content with the political happenings, or (2) political issues require continuous and expert attention, which the average citizen may not have.
Practice theory is a theory of how social beings, with their diverse motives and their diverse intentions, make and transform the world which they live in. It is a dialectic between social structure and human agency working back and forth in a dynamic relationship. Practice theory, as outlined by Sherry Ortner, "seeks to explain the relationship(s) that obtain between human action, on the one hand, and some global entity which we call 'the system' on the other". The approach seeks to resolve the antinomy between traditional structuralist approaches and approaches such as methodological individualism which attempted to explain all social phenomena in terms of individual actions.
Sex differences in social capital are debated differences between men and women's ability to achieve their aims through social constructs such as trust, norms and networks. Social capital is often seen as the missing link in development; as social networks facilitate access to resources and protect the commons, whilst co-operation makes markets work more efficiently. Social capital has been thought of as women's capital as whereas there are gendered barriers to accessing economic capital, women's role in family, and community ensures that they have strong networks. There is potential that the concept can help to bring women's unpaid 'community and household labour', vital to survival and development, to the attention of economists. However, research analysing social capital from a gendered perspective is rare, and the notable exceptions are very critical.
In sociology, field theory examines how individuals construct social fields, and how they are affected by such fields. Social fields are environments in which competition between individuals and between groups takes place, such as markets, academic disciplines, musical genres, etc.
Symbolic Violence is a term coined by Pierre Bourdieu, a prominent 20th-century French sociologist, and appears in his works as early as the 1970s. Symbolic violence describes a type of non-physical violence manifested in the power differential between social groups. It is often unconsciously agreed upon by both parties and is manifested in an imposition of the norms of the group possessing greater social power on those of the subordinate group. Symbolic violence can be manifested across different social domains such as nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic identity.
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