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Symbolic Power in the World Trade Organization$
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Matthew Eagleton-Pierce

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199662647

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662647.001.0001

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The symbolic face of power

The symbolic face of power

(p.49) 3 The symbolic face of power
Symbolic Power in the World Trade Organization

Matthew Eagleton-Pierce

Oxford University Press

Inspired by Bourdieu’s theorising, and considering the limitations of conventional notions of power used to study trade politics, this chapter argues that a critical framework on symbolic power is of intellectual importance. The notion of symbolic power offers a way to conceptualise how political language both reflects and constitutes power. There are three sections. First, the discussion considers how power can take more covert, ‘taken-for-granted’ forms that are often missed in traditional power notions. Second, the argument debates the complex relationship between power, language, and processes of political legitimation. Bourdieu’s notion of a ‘linguistic market’ is explained and applied to WTO politics. The third part explores two complementary conceptual tools: framing and mimicry. Together, the chapter argues that these concepts can help refine our understanding for how mechanisms of legitimation work in the service of symbolic power to favour some issues and groups over others in the WTO system.

Keywords:   Bourdieu, Doxa, framing, heterodoxy, language, legitimation, mimicry, orthodoxy, power, symbolic power

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