Bourdieu’s concept of field offers an alternative explanation for the inevitable gap between policy initiative and implementation. While the existing literature mostly concentrated on the dichotomy of macro- and micro-politics in enacting education policies, the missing attention to meso-level, local governments as policy interpreters and implementers in some developing countries with a vast territory, China and Russia, for example, has hindered deeper exploration in policy studies. Adopting cross-field effects as the theoretical base and applying Bourdieu's conceptual triad as a whole, rather than considering habitus, practice, or field separately, this study examines Chinese transnational higher education (TNHE) policy enactment by subnational authorities, aiming to: first, contextualize Bourdieu's theoretical and empirical approaches in various political/economic systems while consider the policy practice at meso-level; second, demonstrate the essentiality of conversation rate and standard of capitals in field analysis; and third, based on these analyses, explore the formation of institutional habitus as a way of explaining the perennial inequality in the Chinese higher education (HE) system. The paper concludes with a theoretical reflection that Bourdieu’s ever-developing definition of habitus and the criticism of his unavoidable relapse to objectivism result from the indiscriminate use of individual and institutional habitus.
- cross-field effects
- institutional habitus
- standard and conversion rate of capitals
- transnational higher education