Ana Velitchkova, University of Mississippi
I build on field theory to show how cultural and social logics, in addition to economic logic, can orient people’s understandings of inequality and organize their preferences and their actions. I argue that, because inequality has multiple dimensions, not only an economic dimension but also a cultural and a social dimension, political cleavages occur along the cultural and the social axes, not only along the economic one. Political mobilization can thus harness interests and discontent along any of the axes of inequality. These cleavages and mobilizations can appear surprising. Field mechanisms, such as doxa and illusio, create social blindness to the importance of unrecognized inequality and cleavages. To highlight the importance of the social dimension and of the cultural dimension of inequality, I examine the case of the Esperanto movement. I show how Esperantists focused on addressing the social dimension of global inequality but ignore its cultural dimension. While striving to establish an equal community, the Esperanto movement inadvertently creates a membership hierarchy based on cultural capital. The Esperanto case should be a cautionary tale for those aiming for equality but ignoring the fact that inequality has multiple dimensions, not only an economic dimension but also a social and a cultural dimension.
Presented in Session 139. Exclusion and Symbolic Politics