Introduction: Cultural Capital and Inequality: PolicyIssues and Contexts

Bennett, Tony and Silva, Elizabeth (2006). Introduction: Cultural Capital and Inequality: PolicyIssues and Contexts. Cultural Trends, 15(2/3) pp. 87–106.



In this special issue of Cultural Trends we report on selected and provisional findings of a large-scale research inquiry into cultural tastes, knowledge and forms of cultural participation in contemporary Britain, considered in their relations to some of the key indicators of social divisions and differences: class, gender, ethnicity, education, residence, income etc. The inquiry - Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion: A Critical Investigation (CCSE) - was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and was conducted via a rich mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods which we will discuss in more detail shortly.1 We begin, though, in the first two sections, with a review of some aspects of the histories of the concepts of cultural capital and social exclusion in order to identify the terms on which these have come together in the context of New Labour's policies for promoting access to culture as a means of combating or offsetting the effects of social exclusion. We then return to describe more fully how the research was conducted, and to outline the design of our research instruments and the basic analytical processes we have undertaken. The main findings and conclusions of the articles brought together in this issue are then reviewed.

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