The Lao Economic Field

With globalization and the introduction of a market economy, profound changes are taking place in Lao society. The transformation is not confined to quantitative economic data, which have hitherto been the prime object of research on the Lao economy; it also affects social structure and cultures. The article argues that the transformation is understood best if analysed in social and cultural terms on the basis of Pierre Bourdieu's concept of social fields. Against this backdrop it becomes clear that the Lao economic field has its own social structure, which is not identical with the structure of other fields, Even though formally a market economy, the economic field is dominated neither by capitalist culture nor by entrepreneurs. Various groups with different cultures struggle for various positions on and definitions of the field. The article examines the groups and their cultures as well as the impact of globalization on them.