Bourdieu's Theory of Cultural Capital

990 WordsFeb 2, 20184 Pages
Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital has been extremely influential, and has garnered a great deal of literature, both theoretical and empirical. Like Marx, Bourdieu posited that capital was the foundation of social life and dictated people’s position within the social hierarchy (Bourdieu 1986). According to Bourdieu, the more capital one possesses, the more prestigious a position one occupies in social life (Bourdieu 1986). In addition to that, Bourdieu extended Marx’s idea of capital beyond the economic and into cultural symbolism (Bourdieu 1986). Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital that refers to the collection of symbolic elements (e.g. skills, tastes, clothing) one acquires through being part of a particular social niche and his concept of habitus that refers to the physical manifestation of cultural capital owned by individuals due to life experiences are his major influential concepts that are very useful in deconstructing power in development and social change processes. However it must be recognized that these concepts also propagate social inequalities at the same time. This essay will closely examine his concepts of capital that comes in three forms - embodied, objectified, and institutionalised, and habitus in the fields of education and stratification have made of it. Bourdieu’s work will be analysed in the context both of the debate on class inequalities in educational attainment and of class reproduction in advanced capitalist societies. An important
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