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Cultural Power & Power as Capital

A look into Pierre Bourdieu's analysis of cultural, economic and social power as capital in society.

Matt Stanoev

on 12 January 2013

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Transcript of Cultural Power & Power as Capital

By:Matt Stanoev, Khalida Safi &Yoori Park Power as Capital & Cultural Power French sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher.

Born on August, 1, 1930 in southern France to a lower-middle-class family. He died on January 23, 2002 in Paris.

His work was influenced by Max Weber, Carl Marx, Emile Durkheim, among others. Pierre Bourdieu Bourdieu parted himself from Marxism in the notion of capital as all forms of power. He theorized such resources as capital when they function as “social relation of power”.

Access to the income depends on cultural capital in various contemporary societies.

Concept of capital is rooted in a kind of labor theory value. Bourdieu speaks of four generic sorts of capital

1. Economic capital (money & property)

2. Cultural capital (cultural goods and services)

3. Social capital (networks and acquaintances)

4. Symbolic capital (legitimation) Power as Capital Cultural Capital Bourdieu extends the logic of economics to presumably non-economic goods and services in cultural capital.

His concept of cultural capital developed from his research of children's achievements originating from families with various educational, yet similar social origins. →

A student's success in school is equated to the amount of cultural capital acquired from the family. Cultural capital has been examined by Bourdieu in three various states:

Embodied → aesthetic dispositions that are both actively acquired and the passively absorbed by individuals. Objectified → objects such as books or instruments that require special skills to use.

Institutionalized → qualifications and credentials. Bourdieu emphasized on the
importance of higher education
system and its role it plays in
determination of status in
advanced societies.

Social inequality in contemporary societies is caused by the unequal distribution of objectified and institutionalized cultural capital. Culture as Capital Capital is a kind of “energy of social physics” that can occur in various forms and under certain conditions and exchange rates which can inter-convert from one to another.

Cultural capital is always considered a “subordinate” or “dominated” form of capital.

Bourdieu argues that “economic capital is the root of all other types of capitals”.
Economic capital convert more easily
in to cultural capital and social capital
than vice versa. Cultural and social forms of capital are
not equal to economic capital. The Individual/Society Dualism Bourdieu - the oldest problem in Western intellectual tradition = relationship between individual and society.

The individual and society are "realtionally" constructed - as if they were two sides of the same coin.

Habitus focuses on the mutually powerful realities of individual subjectivity and societal objectivity. Action as Strategy

Actors are not conformists, but strategic
improvisers who respond to the opportunities
and constraints offered by various situations
– Ex. = gift giving. He argues that models of action must include “time” as an vital component. Behavior is strategic, rather than conformist. The Development of the Concept of Habitus According to Bourdieu, the habitus is a matrix of perceptions, appreciations and actions – “cultural unconscious” – “mental habit”.

His concept of habitus is developed from a normative and cognitive emphasis to a more dispositional and practical understanding of action. Habitus is a “structured structure” which is formed from internalizing socialization experiences. Structured Structures and Structuring Structures Habitus tends to represent a kind of profound structuring cultural environment that creates self-fulfilling insights according to various class opportunities.

Habitus is formed by unconscious internalization within a social group.

“Conductorless orchestration” regularity of practices without conscious organization.

Aspirations and actions of individuals tend to correspond to their habitus. Thus, habitus guides action on predicted consequences.

Habitus calls us to think of action as engendered and structured by fundamental dispositions that are internalized through early socialization.

On the one hand, habitus can be seen as conceptualizing cultural practices. On the other hand, is links practice with habit. Cultural Power An individual's continual performance through work assists in the contraction of the social world and imposes their own interpretation of social world and their social identity.

Like in the natural world, the social world can be perceived and expressed in various ways.
Relations of power also determine one's view on the world. Labor classifies and categorizes individuals, their social identity and their social status.

Symbolic capital is institutionalized and is not separable from educational.

Cultural and authoritative categorization are
central to understanding change and inequality
in society. Discussion Questions Do you agree with Bourdieu's assumption that humans are geared towards gaining wealth? Why or why not?

Can a person's habitus change over time? If so, by what factors?

Do we have agency in our habitus?
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