THE ONTOLOGY OF CAPITAL: ON THE SHARED METHODOLOGICAL LIMITS OF MODERNIZATION THEORY AND ITS CRITICS


MÜCEN B.

HISTORY AND THEORY, cilt.57, ss.173-194, 2018 (SSCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier

  • Cilt numarası: 57 Konu: 2
  • Basım Tarihi: 2018
  • Doi Numarası: 10.1111/hith.12056
  • Dergi Adı: HISTORY AND THEORY
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.173-194

Özet

This article argues that critical scholarship in historical studies has not overcome the methodological limits of modernization theory for failing to question the ontological principles that construct its object of analysis. I call these principles the ontology of capital and explicate them through Bourdieu's conceptualization of the field and capital. I argue that this ontology is established according to a distribution model in which social entities come into the analysis with the amount and value of the capital they hold. This model grasps all social relations in the form of competition, and actors and actions enter into the analysis only when they are involved in such relations. I then analyze Bernard Lewis's The Emergence of Modern Turkey, which is written explicitly from a modernization perspective, to show how the principles of the ontology of capital operate in this text. The analysis focuses on how sociohistorical facts are constructed through selection and articulation of empirical evidence that become meaningful only on the basis of this ontology. The aim of this analysis is to show the ontology of capital that constructs the object of analysis in Lewis's text rather than the Eurocentric, teleological, and elitist character of his analysis of history that critics in recent decades have addressed as problems of the modernization paradigm. Based on this, I argue that for a productive critical approach, relational analysis, which characterizes critical scholarship in contrast to essentialism, also has to consider the ontological principles in a historical work to overcome methodological limits. The failure to interrogate this ontology leads to an analytical separation in critical scholarship between the analysis of historical reality and of alternatives to this reality. This separation not only produces a dehistoricized analysis of the present from a critical perspective, but also turns the alternatives into utopian models.