Theory and Society

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 265–297 | Cite as

The making of the global gambling industry: An application and extension of field theory

Article

Abstract

The past two decades have seen a global convergence from gambling prohibition to legalization, but also a divergence regarding how new gambling industries are structured and regulated. This article compares two cases of casino legalization exhibiting different and, given conventional understandings of the two countries, unexpected outcomes. In the United States, ethnic entrepreneurs (Indian tribes) were granted a monopoly on casinos in California; in South Africa, the new ANC government legalized a competitive, corporate casino industry. Through explaining these disparate industry structurings, two arguments are advanced. First, Bourdieu's field theory best describes the interests and strategies of industry “players” as they attempted to shape policy. Second, Bourdieu neglects the independent role of institutions in mediating between field-level dynamics and concrete regulatory outcomes. In California, Tribes converted economic into political capital through a public election. In South Africa, the ANC used a centralized commission to implement corporate gambling over public opposition, in essence converting political into economic capital. By viewing policy domains as “dramaturgical prisms” whose sign–production tools and audiences facilitate certain but not other capital conversion projects, I both explain unexpected regulatory outcomes and synthesize field and political process theories.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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