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The Forms of Capital

Bourdieu is perhaps best known for his concept of cultural capital. He first used it to explain children’s educational outcomes in 1960s France, arguing that class culture, such as its attitudes, values, and norms, confers to its members’ advantages in the education system. In “The Forms of Capital,” Bourdieu defines cultural capital and its relationship to economic and social capital. Answer the following questions after completing the reading.


1. Describe in your own words the differences between objectified, embodied, and institutionalized cultural capital.

2. In the conclusion of the essay, Bourdieu uses the example of the education system to illustrate how cultural capital can be utilized to reproduce inequality. How does this happen?

3. Bourdieu’s example of social reproduction in the education system is well known. What is an example of another institution in which cultural capital is employed to confer advantages to one class over another?

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