Monday, March 6, 2017

Literature Review #2: The Forms of Capital


Bourdieu, Pierre. "The Forms of Capital ." Ed. J. F. Richardson. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968. 46-58. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.

This reading depicts the significance of capital in a social context. He begins to explicate the multidimensional nature of social structure and its effects on the hidden implications of capital, specifically cultural capital. Bourdieu outlines the three types of capital in a socioeconomic structure: economic, cultural, and social capital. Economic capital is the immediate ownership of monetary property. He heavily focuses on the three states of cultural capital, which stem from the multidimensional composition of culture itself. Cultural capital can exist in an embodied state (inherited competence), an objectified state (cultural artifacts), and an institutionalized state (a guaranteed recognition of ability). He then explicates the concept of social capital, which is the network of social contacts derived from specific socioeconomic classes. He concludes by outlining the interdependence of these capitals: social and cultural capital are derived from economic capital. 

Author, Pierre Bourdieu, was an influential sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher from France. His main pursuit was to examine the dynamics of power relationships in a social context, including class stratification, aesthetic taste, and social positioning. He is well known for noting the importance of cultural capital for social mobility. 

"The notion of cultural capital initially presented itself to me in the course of research, as a theoretical hypothesis which made it possible to explain the unequal scholastic achievement of children originating from the different social classes by relating socioeconmic success, i.e., the different classes and class fractions can obtain in the academic market, to the distribution of cultural capital between the classes and class fractions" (47). 

"If the internal competition for the monopoly of legitimate representation of the group is not to threaten the conservation and accumulation of the capital which is the basis of the group, the members of the group must regulate the conditions of access to the right to declare oneself a member of the group and, above all, to set oneself up as a representative of the whole group, thereby committing the social capital of the whole group" (53). 

"The different types of capital can be derived from economic capital, but only at the cost of a more or less great effort of transformation, which is needed to produce the type of power effective in the field in question" (53).

This work was extremely helpful in defining the central-focus of my thesis, which is differences in class resources. The resources students inherited from their parents are essentially forms of capital in financial, cultural, and social contexts. The idea of capital directly translates to the advantages students in higher socieconomic standing benefit from. Culture and social resources stem from the monetary economic capital, which is only the forefront of the benefits of higher socioeconomic class in the realm of higher education. 

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