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Copy of Pierre Bourdieu and Cultural Capital

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

Lana Zannettino

on 10 December 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Pierre Bourdieu and Cultural Capital

Pierre Bourdieu and Forms of Capital
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
generic sorts of capital

capital (money & property)

capital (cultural goods and services)

capital (networks and acquaintances)

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
various states:

→ aesthetic dispositions that are both actively acquired and the passively absorbed by individuals.

objects such as books or instruments that require special skills to use.

→ 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?
Some examples of cultural capital in the U.S. today:
Speaking grammatically correct English
Appreciating fine art
Knowing how to dress for a job interview
Reading classic works of literature
Do you speak a foreign language?. Do you know how to behave at a Christian ceremony?
Can you read music?
Have you ever been on a plane?
Could you quote Shakespeare?
Have you ever worn ‘black tie’? (dinner jacket or cocktail dress)
Have you ever been to a formal dinner? (where there is more than one set of cutlery)
Can you ride a horse?
Can you snow ski?
Have you ever stayed in a hotel?
Do you understand the rules of golf?
Have you ever been to the theatre?
Have you ever had a job interview?
Can you play tennis?
Can you name an opera?
Can you read a map and use a compass?
Do you know what vichyssoise is?
Could you carve a turkey?
Have you got savings?
Have you been abroad?
Do you know how to eat asparagus?
Have you read at least three classic novels?
Could you name three classical painters?
Have you ever been to a ballet?
Do you have family contacts in the police, legal profession or teaching

Who gets to decide what "culture" is valuable in society?
People get into positions of power and authority because they have accumulated or inherited large quantities of economic capital and social capital, which they have converted to cultural capital.
These individuals use their forms of capital to determine what is and what is not valued in society. They help determine what we call "dominant cultural capital."
Why do the rich and middle class tend to stay middle class and the poor tend to stay poor? The answer: social reproduction theory.
Social Structures
Examples of "structures"
Laws, like Welfare Reform
Rules and Regulations for certain professions
Requirements to graduate from high school
The Development of the Concept of Habitus
According to Bourdieu, the habitus is a matrix of perceptions, appreciations and actions – “cultural unconscious” – “mental habit”.

Habitus is a “structured structure” which is formed from internalizing socialization experiences.
The habitus is like a 6th sense. It's when we internalize and unconsciously "think" in similar ways to the "structures" because we have been trained to think that way in our homes and in our schools.
After years of practice, a linebacker doesn't even have to think. Instead, they react based on semi-conscious thinking. These reactions are like their 6th sense, they just "do" based on what they've practiced.

The structures of our society inform the way we are raised and educated, which instill in us a certain "habitus," or sixth sense. This habitus influences the way we live in the world, our actions, or practices.
For example, the structures (rules) that determine how the game of football is played influences the "habitus" we form as we learn to play football. This habitus is then "practiced" when we are put in situations that require us react.
Coaches continue to "coach" the rules, and recruit players that have certain physical and mental characteristics, and the practices then become structures, they reinforce the "system" and the rules, which in turn form the habitus, and to so on.
Cultural Capital
Economic capital
Wagyu Beef (Twisted Joes')
Gateway Market
Dos Rios
Zombie Burger
Whole Foods
Taco Loco
Fong's Pizza
West Glen Target
On the Border
Bravo Italiano
Red Lobster
Wal Mart
Taco Johns
Pizza Hut
Long John Silver's
1. Eating "organic, refined, and healthy" is currently "trendy."
It's also expensive. Some people can't afford the luxury of eating healthy, others don't know the difference. Not affording is due to a lack of economic capital, not knowing is due to a lack of cultural capital.

2. Another "trend" in the foodie circles is artisan/heirloom goods. Artisan implies at least one step in the process is completed by hand. "Artisan" products, therefore, are more expensive because they are not generally mass produced and are made my skilled individuals by hand. To purchase "artisan" items you need more economic capital. To know where to find artisan goods, you need more cultural capital.

For example, you can get your pastries at the grocery store, Dunkin Donuts, or Crispy Creme. Or you can get your pastries at La Mie.

You can get your cheese in the dairy section of Wal Mart, or you can get your cheese from "The Cheese Shop"

In our cheese example, we acquire the cultural capital to know what is "cool or trendy" in cheese because either we are taught at home, or our social circle informs us. But, just because we "know" what is desirable in terms of cheese doesn't mean we can have it. We must have the economic capital to purchase the trendy items. So, our social capital works along with our economic capital to help us acquire more cultural capital. This new cultural capital then deepens our social circle, giving us more "knowledge" on how people "like us" live, which again can give us more economic capital in terms of the access we have to higher paying jobs.
What does this have to do with Lisa Delpit, code switching, and schools?
How is "habitus" different from Foucault? With Foucault we saw how institutions make subject-positions that people fill. But how does this process reproduce?
Each and every age is the same. Institutions make positions. People fill them. People die. Institutions make new positions.
For Foucault it was basically one-directional: institutions make positions that people then fill.
People may resist but they largely do not affect the reproduction of institutions or those subject-positions.
Bourdieu saw something similar. He also institutions as constructing people. But he also saw the role of things like family and the place of class and status as institutions of a sort.
In other words, people embody not just institutions and their logic but they also embody class and status. He calls this the "internalization of the external." This is the "habitus."
Notice the right side. Bourdieu says that we embody these logics so thoroughly that we reproduce in our bodily movements, our manners of speech, and our logic, what we take to be "common sense." This is also "habitus."
Bourdieu's reproduction of institution and institutional logic looks more like this:
Because we reproduce those ways of thinking and acting, it is WE who reproduce those institutions, class and status divisions, and we do so calling it "common sense" (or embodied logic)
If you know the institutional logics
Bourdieu's Methodological Contribution
Then you should be able to trace them in people's embodied logic (actions and thoughts)
The result is a strategic actor that is not the Lockean "rational actor." People use their habitus creatively but it's still a socially constructed/determined logic.
A musician, in the same way, might just "play" without thinking about the notes because the "song" has become second nature to them.
House of Mirth
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