Role of Political Habitus in Shaping Dynamics of Democracy: Insights from Nehruvian and Gandhian Period of Democracy in India

in Comparative Sociology
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I have developed a theory regarding the relations among political structure, elite agency and democratization processes that overcomes the political structure/elite agency duality currently plaguing democracy consolidation studies. Using Bourdieu’s insights on the structure/agency relation to empirically examine the Nehruvian (1947–71) and Gandhian (1971–77) periods of Indian democracy, I show that the elite’s role in democratization processes is shaped by their political habitus, which in turn is structured by historically specific political structures. Furthermore, neither the elite’s political habitus nor the political structures that influence it are immune to change. Political structures are shaped by intraparty conflicts among the elite to establish their political authority. Since political structures change because of the changing state of conflict among the political elite, the milieu in which the elite’s political habitus is conditioned also changes. In the changing political milieu, the existent elite’s political sensibilities are reconfigured, and the sensibilities of the new generation of political elite, who have differing interests in democratization processes, become mature.

Role of Political Habitus in Shaping Dynamics of Democracy: Insights from Nehruvian and Gandhian Period of Democracy in India

in Comparative Sociology



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Sallaz and Zavisca’s (2010) recent study has demonstrated the increasing popularity of field theory among mainstream sociologists. However among all sub-disciplines of sociology field theory has remained least popular in political sociology and political science (Swartz 2013). Ironically two central topics of interest for political sociologists and political scientists – power and authority – are central to field theory. Swartz reasons that while Bourdieu’s work profoundly engages with questions of power and authority in everyday life it does not engage with the conventional topic of interest among political sociologists and political scientists; namely institutional politics. Hence it is for this reason that Bourdieu has not been popular either among political sociologists or among political scientists. Among the few well-known examples of the application of field theory to the study of institutional politics are Eyal (2003) Loveman (2005) Go (2008) and Steinmetz (2008).

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