cultural capital

(noun) “[C]ultural knowledge that serves (metaphorically) as currency to help one navigate a culture” (OpenStax College 2012).

Audio Pronunciation: (cul·tur·al cap·i·tal)

Download Audio Pronunciation: cultural capital.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Term coined by Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2003) that emphasized that cultural capital is taught through socialization and used to exclude the lower class.
  • Also called cultural capital theory.
  • Informally called:
    • breeding
    • class
    • cultural cachet
    • refinement
    • social grace
    • savoir faire

Related Quotations:

  • “All groups have norms, values, beliefs, ways of life, and codes of conduct that identify the group and define its boundaries” (McNamee and Miller 2013:58).

Additional Information:

Related Terms: 



McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller. 2013. The Meritocracy Myth. 3rd. ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

OpenStax College. 2012. Theoretical Perspectives on Education. Connexions, May 18, 2012. (