Cultural Capital

Pierre Bourdieu- three types of capital

Gewirtz - Marketisation and parental choice 

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  • Created by: lfcvish
  • Created on: 27-11-11 10:59

Bourdieu - Three types of capital

Pierre Bourdieu argues that both cultural and material factors contribute to educational achievement and believes they are inter related.

The word capital usually refers to wealth but Bourdieu also identifies two further types. "Educational capital" and "Cultural Capital". He says that the middle class generally possess more of 3 types of capital. The main one is cultural capital.

Cultural Capital: The Term refers to knowledge, attitudes, values, language, tastes and abilities of the middle class. He sees middle class culture as a type of capital because like wealth it give an advantage to those who possess it. He argues that through socialisation, middle class children acquire the ability to grasp and analyse ideas. This gives middle class children an advantage. He believes that the education system favours the dominant middle class culture.

Bourdieu argues that educational, economic and cultural capital can be converted into one another. For example wealthier parents can convert their economic capital into educational capital by sending their children to private schools.

Leech and Campos say that middle class parents are also more likely to be able to afford a house in the catchment area of a school that is highly placed in the exam league tables. This is known as Selection by Mortgage.

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Gewirtz- Marketisation and Parental Choice

Sharon Gewirtz examines class differences in parental choice in selection of secondary schools.

Studied 14 london schools, based on interviews with teachers and parents, and on secondary data like school documents. She identifies 3 different types of parents: priviliged school choosers, disconnected choosers and semi-skilled choosers. 

Priviliged school choosers - Mainly professional middle class parents who used their economic and cultural capital to gain edicational capital for their children. These parents understood the application process, understood importance of schools and they saw the choosing of the school as a vital part of their child's future. They could also afford to send their child to better schools, eg. travle costs, or moving house.

Disconnected choosers - Working class parents, whose choices are restricted by lack of economic and cultural capital. They found it difficult to understand the admissions process, had major restrictions on factors such as travel costs.

Semi skilled choosers - Mainly working class, but ambitious for their children. Lacked knowledge about admissions procedure, and found difficiult to understand.

All in all, she concludes that although the education market gives everyone greater choice,, those who possess cultural and economic capital have more choice than others.

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