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Cultural Capital, Structure, Agency

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Kaitlin Carson

on 2 December 2014

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Transcript of Cultural Capital, Structure, Agency

1930- 2002
Concepts include:
Power, social order across generations, cultural/social capital, field, habitus, symbolic violence
Builds on Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Levis Strauss, Mauss
Cultural Capital
The Forms of Capital:
Pierre Bourdieu
the world is accumulated histories
Capital = accumulated labor which, when appropriated on a private, ie exclusive, basis by agents or groups of agents, enables them to appropriate social energy in the form of reified or living labor.
The structure of the distribution of the different types of capital at a given moment in time represents the immanent structure of the social world
determines our chances for success
Types of Capital
Economic Capital: convertible directly to money- property rights
Social Capital: obligations, social connections
Cultural Capital:
Embodied State: long lasting dispositions of the minds and body (language)
Objectified: cultural goods (clothes, cars - not the monetary value as much as symbols)
Institutionalized: symbolic structures (university)
Capital and Inequality
The world is accumulated histories
capital is not distributed evenly
Marx & class
accumulates over time
Poverty trap?
Cultural Capital in East Harlem
"The contrast between Ray's consistent failures at establishing a viable, legal business ventures-- that is, his deli, his legal social club, and his laundromat -- versus his notable success at running a complex franchise of retai

l crack outlets, highlight the different
"cultural capitals"
needed to operate as a private entrepreneur the legal economy versus the underground economy." (135)
Cultural Capital in East Harlem vs Us
How does it differ in...
Embodied State: long lasting dispositions of the minds and body (language)
Objectified: cultural goods (clothes, cars - not the monetary value as much as symbols)
Institutionalized: symbolic structures (university)?
Structures vs Agency

Which creates meaning: structure or

Marx - structures/super structures
Geertz- individuals create meaning
Durkheim- how structures keep society together
Levi-Strauss- dissolves the individual in search for larger structures
Structure vs Agency: In Search of Respect
Cultural Capital, Structure, Agency
In Search of Respect
& Bourdieu

So which is it? Which determines meaning? Structure or agency?
What does Bourgois say?

Where does this ethnography fit into the debate of agency vs structures?
"In fact, a focus on structures often obscures the fact that humans are active agents of their own history, rather than passive victims. Ethnographic method allows the "pawns" or larger structural forces to emerge as real human beings who shape their own futures. Nevertheless, I often find myself falling back on a rigidly structuralist perspective in order to avoid the painful details of how real people hurt themselves and their loved ones in their struggle for survival in daily life. Again, this analytical and political problem can be understood within the context of the theoretical debate over structure versus agency, that is, the relationship between individual responsibility and social structural constraints. The insights from cultural production theory -- specifically, the notion that street culture's resistance to social marginalization is the contradictory key to its destructive impetus -- is useful to avoid reductionist structuralist interpretations. Through cultural practices of opposition, individuals shape the oppression that larger forces impose upon them." (17)
Agency and Structures? : Can it be both?
Bourdieu: Habitus

bridges the divide between actor and systems-based theories
habitus: "systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes" (Bourdieu 1977: 53).
Habitus is produced in relation to past actions that are developed over time.
Habitus is both a product of history and something that produces more history, both individual and collective.
Habitus is the result of internal desires and external pre-established history (Bourdieu 1977: 55). Through habitus, larger social structures are created because behaviors continue to be reinforced in the moment as past moments are channeled in the moment of interaction.
"the internalization of externality.”
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