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- This article is about the sociological term. See also European Capital of Culture.
Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron first used the term in Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction, 1973.
In The Forms of Capital in 1986 (originally written in French as Les Trois états du capital culturel in Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, 30 in 1979), Bourdieu distinguishes between three types of capital:
- Economic capital: command over economic resources (cash, assets).
- Social capital: resources based on group membership, relationships, networks of influence and support. Bourdieu defines social capital as "the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition."
- Cultural capital: forms of knowledge; skill; education; any advantages a person has which give them a higher status in society, including high expectations. Parents provide children with cultural capital, the attitudes and knowledge that makes the educational system a comfortable familiar place in which they can succeed easily.
Cultural capital was described in Foms of Capital as follows:
|La notion de capital culturel s'est imposée d'abord comme une hypothèse indispensable pour rendre compte de l'inégalité des performances scolaires des enfants issus des différentes classes sociales en rapportant la `réussite scolaire', c'est-à-dire les profits spécifiques que les enfants des différentes classes peuvent obtenir sur le marché scolaire à la distribution du capital culturel entre les classes et les fractions de classes. Ce point de départ implique une rupture avec les présupposés inhérents aussi bien à la vision ordinaire qui tient le succès ou l'échec scolaire pour un effet des `aptitudes' naturelles qu'aux théories du `capital humain'.||"The notion of cultural capital first stood out as a theory which was essential in accounting for the inequality of performance at school of children from different social classes yielding "success at school", that is the specific profits which children of different classes can make on the school market in the distribution of cultural capital between the classes and sections of the classes. This starting-point implies a break with presuppositions inherent both to the ordinary point of view which considers success or failure at school an effect of natural "aptitude", and to theories of "human capital"."|
The study went on to say that cultural capital has three distinct forms:
- an embodied state (cultural habitus). A person's character and way of thinking. This is formed by socialisation.
- an objectified state. Things which are owned, such as scientific instruments or works of art. To gain such cultural assets one needs to have cultural habitus.
- an institutionalised state: educational qualifications. Their value can be measured only in relationship to the labour market.
In Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction, Bourdieu and Passeron introduced the idea of cultural reproduction , whereby existing disadvantages and inequalities are passed down from one generation to the next. This, according to Bourdieu, is partly due to the education system and other social institutions. Capitalist societies depend on a stratified social system, where the working class has an education suited for manual labour: levelling out such inequalities would break down the system. Thus, schools in capitalist societies will always be stratified too.
- Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction Bourdieu and Passeron. In R. Brown (Ed.), Knowledge, Education and Social Change. London: Tavistock.
- The Forms of Capital: English version published 1986 in in J.G. Richardson's Handbook for Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, 241–258.
- Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture by Pierre Bourdieu, Jean Claude Passeron
- Culture and Power : The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu by David Swartz
- The Forms of Capital in English
- HyperBourdieu World Catalogue "A comprehensive, contextual and referential bibliography and mediagraphy of all works and public statements by Pierre Bourdieu"
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