Writing Out Loud: Forms of Capital

Bourdieu is perhaps best known for his concept of cultural capital. He first used it to explain children’s educational outcomes in 1960s France, arguing that class’s culture--its attitudes, values, and norms--confers to its members advantages in the education system. In “The Forms of Capital,” Bourdieu defines cultural capital and its relationship to economic and social capital. Answer the following questions after completing the reading.

Theme: Networks of Capital


  1. Describe in your own words the differences between objectified, embodied, and institutionalized cultural capital. Please provide an example of each.
  2. In the conclusion of the essay, Bourdieu uses the example of the education system to illustrate how cultural capital can help reproduce inequality. How does this reproduction of inequality happen?
  3. Bourdieu’s example of social reproduction in the education system is well known. Can you think of other examples of institutions (e.g., religion, government, healthcare, etc.) where cultural capital confers advantages to one class over another?
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