This sample Cultural Capital Essay is published for informational purposes only. Free essays and research papers, are not written by our writers, they are contributed by users, so we are not responsible for the content of this free sample paper. If you want to buy a high quality essay at affordable price please use our custom essay writing service.
Cultural capital is a concept that was first developed by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and has become an important component in analyses of culture, social class, and inequality. Cultural capital is one of many forms of capital – economic, social, symbolic – that individuals draw from to achieve upward mobility, gain distinction, and enhance their lives. Being ”rich” or ”high” in cultural capital means to possess knowledge and understanding of certain cultural products and practices. In this sense, ”accumulating,” i.e. knowing and learning about, such cultural things as language, food, music, art, literature, and clothing is similar to accumulating economic capital (money, property) in that individuals can use them to achieve higher status within a given field.
Cultural capital exists in three forms. The first is the ”embodied state.” The accumulation of cultural capital begins at birth in the space of the family. Individuals essentially ”inherit” certain practices such as habits, manners, speech patterns, and lifestyle from their families. They ”embody” these cultural practices that remain with them for long periods of time.
The second form in which cultural capital exists is the ”objectified state.” This includes material objects – e.g. paintings, writings, buildings – that have economic (material) as well as symbolic (non-material) value. For example, a bottle of wine has material value (price) and an individual need only possess a degree of economic capital (money) to obtain it. But wine also has certain symbolic properties that give it high nonmaterial value (vintage, region, grape varietal, actual taste, etc.). In order to fully use this object for personal advantage or gain (i.e. to enhance one’s social status vis-a-vis communities of wine aficionados), one must not only possess the means to obtain its material contents (economic capital), but also possess the means to understand its symbolic contents (cultural capital). In other words, material objects have embodied cultural capital that grants them status beyond their material worth.
The third form is the ”institutionalized state.” After the family, cultural capital is distributed in many ways and in a great number of spaces, or formal institutions. The most common social structure in which cultural capital is embedded is education. The transmission of cultural capital through the university (the degree) legitimates its bearer, as opposed to the self-learned person, whose cultural capital can always be questioned. The university becomes a universally recognized guarantor of an individual’s cultural capital.
As these different states imply, cultural capital is very much related to other forms of capital. In general, possessing high economic capital correlates strongly with possessing high cultural capital, but this is not always the case. For example, academics are generally high in cultural capital but relatively low in economic capital, whereas professional athletes are generally high in economic capital and low in cultural capital (Thornton 1996). Most importantly, it is the relationships between the forms of capital that leads to the ”reproduction” of the social world. Universities, for example, can be prohibitive to certain social groups in terms of the amount of capital that they require for admission: economic (tuition), cultural (language skills, study habits), and social (networks, communities). High levels of each form of capital enhance one’s ability to attend elite schools, which leads to the further accumulation and legitimization of cultural capital. And one can transfer such knowledge towards the accumulation of economic capital.
Cultural capital adds an important dimension to our understanding of social class and inequality. It demonstrates how people can possess power and achieve high status and be denied access to power and status in significant ways other than material wealth. Cultural capital also provides an insightful bridge for the gap between the fundamental sociological concepts of structure and agency. While individuals behave as agents with embodied cultural practices, they only accumulate such knowledge through action within social structures (e.g. the family, education).
- Thornton, S. (1996) Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital. Wesleyan Press, London.
- Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
- Bourdieu, P. (1986) The forms of capital. In Richardson, J. (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Greenwood, New York, pp. 241-58.
Free essays are not written to satisfy your specific instructions. You can use our professional writing services to order a custom essay, research paper, or term paper on any topic and get your high quality paper at affordable price. UniversalEssays is the best choice for those who seek help in essay writing or research paper writing in any field of study.
Need a custom Essay? Check the price and Order Now!
An exploratory essay is a form of paper that discusses a theme, topic or merely answers a question. While most are short, they require quite a good understanding of the topic to avoid repetitive or incorrect content. Writing an exploratory essay is no easy feat, especially if it is supposed to be on a difficult topic such as “cultural capital”. Before you embark on your way to working on this task you may want to learn a few common facts about cultural capital, such as the following:
1) Cultural Capital Can Exist in Three States
Cultural capital has been divided into three separate forms: objectified, institutionalized and embodied. Each differs from the other in terms of content and usage in individual’s everyday life. While embodied and institutionalized cultural capital cannot be physically owned or objectified it can definitely be physically owned. Embodied cultural capital is what you generally obtained from your family members, while institutionalized cultural capital is attained from schools and colleges.
2) According to Bourdieu, Cultural Capital is an Area Where Social Inequality is Maintained
Pierre Bourdieu has explained how different social classes have a different set of educational merits, knowledge, etc. The classes that show primary cultural transmissions are helped by educational systems to strengthen the transmissions. But on the way, the rest of the social classes is left behind, automatically giving rise to social inequality. Unfortunately, this merely reduces the cultural capital present in the given area/city/country.
3) Embodied Cultural Capital Is Attained Consciously
An individual generally inherits this form of cultural capital from his/her predecessors. This capital includes patterns of behavior, tastes, learning patterns, etc.
4) Institutionalized Cultural Capital Consists of Education
This type of cultural capital is the recognition that is received from institutions, usually in the form of educational merits. Institutionalized cultural capital helps people raise their social and financial capital.
5) Objectified Cultural Capitals Are Physical Objects That Could Be Possessed
Objectified cultural capital is all that could physically be owned by an individual, be it a vehicle or even food rations. This cultural capital also helps one achieve economic benefit.
6) Early Education Drive Is Promoted among Children to Make Up for Any Cultural Capital Inequalities
Since children start learning at a young age, educational institutes and schools try to promote the accumulation of cultural capital. In this way it does not matter if these children are from different socioeconomic classes, they all learn to enhance their cultural capital. This cultural capital will help children rise and attain their own place in the future of this world. Cultural capital is something that you learn at a tender age and carry all the way through your secondary school, high school, undergraduate school and even graduate school. The amount of cultural capital that you possess will determine how successful you will be. As understood, the higher the amount of cultural capital, the better the chances of you being prosperous in the long run.
7) Cultural Capital Could Be Increased by Exposing Yourself and Your Family to the Likes of Art and Theatre
A number of experiments have been done to understand if being exposed to cultural activities could help increase the cultural capital attained by an individual or a family. In one such experiment, five families from different social classes and age groups were taken to visual arts galleries and cultural events. While some understood and recognized these well, others found it to be foreign. However, experts are certain that subjecting different people to cultural activities could certainly increase cultural capital of a particular nation.
8) Cultural Capital is Acts as an Asset
These assets could be both perceptible and imperceptible, making sure that we attain social benefits and are able to climb up the social ladder with ease. These assets help us obtain financial capital as well.
9) Cultural Capital Promotes Human and Social Capital
Human capital unites the personality features, knowledge and just about any kind of knowledge that help in producing an economic value of the individual in question. On the other hand, social capital is the overall value of the relationships that you have in the society. Experts state that cultural capital such as intellect, education is what enhances a person’s human and social capital.
10) Cultural Capital Promotes Health
As per several researches and studies, health has a direct connection with cultural capital, which we do not seem to realize. Self-presentation is one of the many examples of cultural capital. Therefore, those who take care of their health are in turn taking care of their self-presentation, which proves that health has a link to cultural capital. Also, it has been noted that different classes that have different sets of cultural capitals take a different approach towards maintaining their overall health.
11) Embodied Cultural Capital Has Sub-Types
As per Pierre Bourdieu, embodied cultural capital has three subtypes, each belongs to a specific social class. The three subtypes are: working class, middle class and bourgeoisie.
12) Technology is a Form of Cultural Capital
In today’s world, technology is a great factor in terms of advancements in education. Not so surprisingly, technology makes of quicker and better learning. Therefore, experts have been seen claiming that certain forms of technology are actually cultural capitals. They have also done experiments between groups of students with and without any forms of technology. The results showed that the group of pupils, who were making use of certain forms of technology, such as computers and laptops, to study, performed better than those who did not.
Not only are these facts intriguing, they also help us appreciate cultural capital. Once you get a complete understanding of the points stated above, it will be simpler to work on an exploratory essay. Along with coming up with an exceptional topic to break down and discuss, you could also jot down some solid points to make your essay a success. Don’t forget to check our guide that deals with expository essay on cultural capital as well as 20 topics on this matter for you to choose from.
“Thomas Abel. Cultural Capital in Heath Promotion.”
Susan A. Dumais. Sociology of Education. Volume 75, No. 1 (Jan., 2002). pp. 44-68.
Eric L. Lesser. (2000). Knowledge and Social Capital: Foundations and Applications.
Mick Matthys. (2013). Cultural Capital, Identity, and Social Mobility: The Life Course of Working-Class University Graduates.
Pierre Bourdieu. The Forms of Capital.
William E. Deal and Timothy K. Beal. (2004). Theory for Religious Studies.
Louise C. Johnson. (2009). Cultural Capitals: Revaluing the Arts, Remaking Urban Spaces.
0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes
Tags: culture essays, exploratory essay help, exploratory essay writing