Sociology Index

CULTURAL CAPITAL

Knowledge Capital

As used by P. Bourdieu, in the sociological analysis of education, the term cultural capital refers to the way that schools reflect standards of cultural expression and definitions of valued abilities that are characteristic of the socially and economically dominant class in society.

Students who bring this cultural capital (a form of human capital) to the school are apt to be most successful in meeting criteria set by the schools and the result is that the school system supports and justifies the privileges of children of the wealthy and powerful.

The school can also be seen as bestowing cultural capital on students, improving the equality of opportunity for those groups not already in possession of this capital or cultural capital that is essential for maintaining an open class society.

Social and Cultural Capital in an Urban Latino School Community 
Karen Monkman, DePaul University, Margaret Ronald, Florida State University 
Florence D�limon Th�ram�ne, Fondation Hatienne de l’Enseignement Priv� 
The concepts of social capital and cultural capital explain how inequality is reproduced in schools.

High-status cultural practices and knowledge, and access to these through elite social networks, become the indications through which success is recognized and rewarded. However, it is in the dynamics of negotiating social and cultural capital that processes of social reproduction can potentially be upset and derailed.

Cultural Capital and Social Inequality in the Life Course Werner Georg, Universit�t Konstanz,
In many surveys, such as PISA, the German educational system shows a strong social inequality, particularly in the transition to higher education (‘Gymnasium’) and to university. Above all, rational choice models and approaches from conflict theory are used as tools for the explanation of these findings. In this contribution, the capital theory of Pierre Bourdieu is tested on the basis of a follow-up survey, which refers to the ages between sixteen and thirty-five. As a result it can be shown that there is a substantial reproduction effect by the transmission of cultural capital in the family.  

Converting Cultural Capital Among Teen Refugees and Their Families From Bosnia-Herzegovina Stevan M. Weine, M.D., Norma Ware, Ph.D. and Alma Klebic, B.A. 
OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to identify the processes by which teen refugees adapt and apply cultural capital in conditions of refuge in order to develop preventive interventions for refugee youths. RESULTS: The concept of converting cultural capital emerged as a useful construct for representing the cultural resources that Bosnian teen refugees and their families bring to the refugee trauma experience. Conversion of cultural capital refers to processes of adapting and applying the meanings, knowledge, customs, achievements, and outlooks that teen refugees and their families bring to new environments in order to enhance teens' cultural vitality and social incorporation. Nine mechanisms of converting cultural capital were identified, labeled, and defined in emic terms: using our language, obliging family, sticking together, returning to religion, going ghetto, building a future, taking pride in tradition, critiquing America, and seeking freedom. These mechanisms represent cultural strategies by which teen refugees attempt to manage enormous historical, social, cultural, economic, familial, and psychological changes associated with refugee trauma. CONCLUSIONS: Ethnography is an important methodologic tool in mental health services research, and the concept of converting cultural capital is useful in designing preventive interventions for teen refugees and their families.

Occupational Inheritance: The Role of Cultural Capital and Gender 
Muriel Egerton: Cathy Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, Manchester University 
It is known that occupational destination is influenced by family cultural resources. Most research on the effects of cultural capital, using nationally representative datasets, has concentrated on paternal occupation and education, finding that higher levels of paternal education are associated with greater educational and occupational attainment. As a result cultural capital has been put forward as a partial explanation for intergenerational class stability. It has been argued that occupational inheritance is more marked for the professional than for the managerial sector of the middle class, due to their greater cultural capital (Savage et al. 1992).

Cultural Capital and Educational Attainment Alice Sullivan, Nuffield College Oxford 
According to Bourdieu's theory of cultural reproduction, children from middle-class families are advantaged in gaining educational credentials due to their possession of cultural capital. In order to assess this theory, I have developed a broad operationalisation of the concept of cultural capital, and have surveyed pupils on both their own and their parents' cultural capital. I will conclude that cultural capital is transmitted within the home and does have a significant effect on performance in the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) examinations. However, a large, direct effect of social class on attainment remains when cultural capital has been controlled for.

The Uneven Distribution of Cultural Capital - Book Reading in Urban China 
Shaoguang Wang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong - Deborah Davis, Yale University 
Yanjie Bian, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 
Drawing on interviews with 400 couples in four cities in 1998, this exploratory study focuses on variation in reading habits to integrate the concept of cultural capital into the theoretical and empirical analysis of inequality and social stratification in contemporary urban China. Overall, we find that volume and composition of cultural capital varies across social classes independent of education. Thus, to the extent that cultural capital in the form of diversified knowledge and appreciation for certain genres or specific authors is unevenly distributed across social classes, we hypothesize that the possession of cultural capital may be a valuable resource in defining and crystallizing class boundaries in this hybrid, fast-changing society.