Revolution Lullabye

June 1, 2009

Bourdieu, The Forms of Capital

Bourdieu, Pierre. “The Forms of Capital.” Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed. John G. Richardson. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986. 241-258.

Society’s structures and unequal power distribution are systematically maintained and reproduced through educational institutions, which confer degrees and distinctions on members of the dominant class. This granting of what seems to be merit-based achievement actually authorizes the dominant class to maintain power. An educational degree is a form of cultural capital, and those who achieve it only could because of the cultural capital they had from birth, which gave them the opportunity to delay entrance into the workforce and continue their education. In this essay, Bourdieu shows the importance of cultural and social capital to maintaining power structure and explains the difference betweeen economic, cultural, and social capital, showing that the latter two, though less obvious, are how power is transferred and transmitted into economic capital.

Quotable Quotes

“the cultural capital academically sanctioned by legally guaranteed qualifications” – institutionalized cultural capital, education

“the transmission of cultural capital is no doubt the best hidden form of hereditary transmission of capital”

“it is what makes the games of society – not least, the economic game – something other than simple games of chance offering at every moment the possibility of a miracle.”

Notable Notes

social capital – the multiplier effect

3 forms of cultural capital: embodied (knowledge, values, cultivation from birth); objectified (books, paintings, machines, instruments); institutionalized (schools, degrees, education) It’s not transferrable

social capital – the group membership nad networks you get through family, school, social classes. These take time and effort to maintain. The group can choose to exclude or excommunicate members who don’t tow the line

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