Social, Cultural and Economic Capitals

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Positionality of the subjects and families in society in terms of their social, cultural, and economic capitals.

Literature that suggests that our social ties, social connections, and social networks are crucial resources, especially for status and income attainment.

Explore the role of the hispano/latino children and teenagers as cultural/social/media brokers in the USA.

Bourdieu argues that an understanding of the multiple forms of capital will help elucidate the structure and functioning of the social world.

Notions of cultural capital and taste

Conflicts for social dominance through culture.

Taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition.

Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit.

Drawing social status from different sources : using taste and its attainments to get a leg up.

Can literacies be used in this sense? Can literacies be used for mobilizing cultural capital? Are they cultural capital?

What is the relationship of literacies to taste?

the nose and the tongue for culture and taste.

lower-middle-class young, desires to move up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital >>> there is a real concern for style in some of these young people : Antonio, Sergio, and Javier for instance, believe they have alternative artsy, creative industry like, styles.

Weak and strong positions depending of the cultural capital

Can literacies be used as cultural capital? as distinction? as makers of style? What is the relationship of taste and literacies?

cultural capital represents the collection of non-economic forces such as family background, social class, varying investments in and commitments to education, different resources, etc.

Bourdieu favors a nurture rather than a nature argument. He states that the ability and talent of an individual is primarily determined by the time and cultural capital invested in them by their parents. Similarly, Bourdieu argues that "the scholastic yield from educational action depends on the cultural capital previously invested by the family" (244) and "the initial accumulation of cultural capital, the precondition for the fast, easy accumulation of every kind of useful cultural capital, starts at the outset, without delay, without wasted time, only for the offspring of families endowed with strong cultural capital." (246) Based upon these assertions, it appears that cultural capital regulates and reproduces itself in a similar fashion as habitus.

Digital literacies and cultural capital

Quoting Seiter:

"By employing sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s categories of economic, cultural, and social capital to digital literacy, I wish to describe the barriers that make the dream of winning something like a “cool job” in new media a very distant one for working-class students. These include a reliance on public computers rather than domestic ones, a lack of access to prestigious educational credentials, and an exclusion from the social networks crucial to employment in the “new” economy."

"Through an extended analogy between the piano and learning to use computers, I demonstrate Bourdieu’s relevance for an expanded vision of digital literacy—one that would be at the forefront of the material and social inequalities that define children’s lives in the United States in the twenty-first century."


Bourdieu focused attention on the role of education and the influence of “status distinc- tions” on the selection and valorization of certain cultural forms. He described the purpose of his project as being “to grasp capital . . . in all of its different forms, and to uncover the laws that regulate their conversion from one into another.”1

distinctions regarding musical taste, aptitude, and talent. He was also a keen observer of status distinc- tions in education and how these translate into job markets.

Bibliography on Cultural capital

  • Lamont, Michèle and Lareau, Annette, Cultural Capital: Allusions, Gaps and Glissandos in Recent Theoretical Developments (1988). Sociological Theory, 6(2): 153-168, 1988. Available at SSRN:
  • Seiter, Ellen. “Practicing at Home: Computers, Pianos, and Cultural Capital." Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected. Edited by Tara McPherson. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008.