Communication and Social Networks (Fall 2023)/Bourdieu summary

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In his essay, Bourdieu argues that capital exists in three primary forms: economic capital, cultural capital, and social capital. Economic capital refers directly to money and assets that can be immediately converted into money. Cultural capital exists in three states: embodied, objectified, and institutionalized. The embodied state refers to the dispositions of the mind and body, which require time and effort to accumulate. The objectified state consists of material cultural goods like artworks, books, or instruments. The institutionalized state involves formal educational qualifications that credentialize cultural competence.

Social capital is comprised of the actual and potential resources accrued through relationships, social networks, and group membership. It depends on mutual recognition and obligation. Bourdieu contends that the different types of capital are convertible into one another, but conversions require varying degrees of effort and result in some loss of capital. Economic capital serves as the ultimate root of the other types of capital.

Strategies of capital accumulation and reproduction are aimed at legitimating exclusive possession and transmitting advantage. Economic capital reproduces itself most directly. Cultural capital disguises its reproduction through indirect transmission in the education system. Social capital concentrates itself through delegation and representation. As direct transmission of capital is obstructed, indirect cultural reproduction through education becomes more important.

Cultural capital in its embodied state cannot be transmitted instantaneously. It declines with the passage of generations. Objectified cultural capital in the form of goods can be transmitted materially through inheritance or purchase. But it can only be symbolically appropriated by those possessing the necessary embodied capital. Institutionalized cultural capital in the form of educational credentials allows indirect conversion into economic capital.

Social capital depends on mutual recognition within social networks. It requires maintenance through continuous social exchanges and obligations. Social capital multiplies the value of the capital possessed by associated individuals. It is most easily accumulated by those whose relationships are automatically recognized as valuable. The convertibility of different capital types enables reproduction strategies but also incurs losses in the process. Concealed modes of transmission, like those for cultural and social capital, incur greater risks of loss.

Study Question Answer
What are the three fundamental forms of capital according to Bourdieu? Economic capital, cultural capital, and social capital.
How does cultural capital exist? In an embodied state, an objectified state, and an institutionalized state.
What does social capital depend upon? Networks of relationships and group membership.
How does capital reproduce itself? Through legitimation strategies that vary for different forms of capital.
Why is cultural capital’s reproduction often disguised? Because it happens through the education system rather than direct inheritance.
What enables strategies of capital reproduction? The convertibility between different forms of capital.
Why do capital conversions also incur losses? Because transformations between capital forms require effort.
When does indirect cultural reproduction become more important? When direct transmission of capital is prevented or hindered.