The Open UniversitySkip to content

Cultural Capital

Silva, Elizabeth (2017). Cultural Capital. In: Turner, Brian ed. The Encyclopaedia of Social Theory. London: Wiley, pp. 547–554.

Full text available as:
Full text not publicly available (Accepted Manuscript)
Due to publisher licensing restrictions, this file is not available for public download
Click here to request a copy from the OU Author.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Cultural capital is a rich concept to explore the workings of culture in patterns of social differentiation. It was developed by Bourdieu in the mid-1960s, in the context of investigations of what, beyond economic assets, was needed to explain educational attainment. The chief finding was that dispositions inherited from family are fundamental to school success. As standards of assessment favour higher classes, better off children perform higher. Educational studies and cultural policies to mitigate class reproduction effects have applied the concept. It has also been salient in social stratification research and feminist theory. Recent explorations show the need to attend to various forms of cultural capital evident in contemporary social life. The key argument is that there is no absolute standard of cultural value on which cultural capital is based, its value being defined according to dynamically changing, and contested, hierarchies which shape the concept as context dependent and relational.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright Holders: 2017 Elizabeth Silva
ISBN: 1-118-43087-5, 978-1-118-43087-3
Keywords: Bourdieu; education; cultural policy; stratification; feminist theory
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies > Sociology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 56776
Depositing User: Elizabeth Silva
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2018 08:41
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2019 00:03
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU