(noun) The distinctions that develop between individuals and groups due to differences in access to education, family background, occupation, and wealth, giving them advantages and serving as a signifier of an individual’s status within a group or society.
- Higher status groups often socialize their children in ‘proper’ language usage, formal manners, and appreciation for high culture such as literature and theater.
Audio Pronunciation: (cul·tur·al cap·i·tal)
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- Term coined by Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2003), whom emphasized that cultural capital is taught through socialization and used to exclude the lower class.
- Also called cultural capital theory.
- Informally called:
- cultural cachet
- social grace
- savoir faire
- “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).
- “Class boundaries are also maintained by language, speech patterns, and pronunciation. Members of the upper class speak more directly and in a more assured manner than do members of the working and lower classes. Their confident demeanor, in turn, enables upper- and upper-middle-class speakers to project images of credibility, honesty, and competence that are important in all social arenas—especially the workplace” (Thompson and Hickey 2012:221).
- Word origin of “cultural” and “capital” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. “The Forms of Capital.” In Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, edited by J. Richardson. New York: Greenwood.
- Halle, David. 1993. Inside Culture: Art and Class in the American Home. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- anticipatory socialization
- diploma disease
- formal education
- hidden curriculum
- social placement
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How to Cite the Definition of Cultural Capital
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “cultural capital.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 19, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/cultural-capital/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
cultural capital. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/cultural-capital/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “cultural capital.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 19, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/cultural-capital/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“cultural capital.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 19 May. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/cultural-capital/>.