cultural capital and educational attainment

Topics: Social class, Middle class, Sociology Pages: 6 (1906 words) Published: November 24, 2013
Emerging from Bourdieu’s cultural capital theory, many sociologists found a relation between cultural capital and Habitus, the effect they have on children’s educational attainment, and how it’s brought about from class differences in societies. Although Bourdieu focuses mainly on the importance of class and class cultures in impeding children’s negotiation of process of schooling (Lareau 1987), his findings portray how cultural resources can be used to perpetuate their position of privilege and power (Swartz 1997: 199). Introduction

The subject matter of this paper revolves around Bourdieu’s cultural capital theory, which states that children from upper class families are able and privileged in the educational system, because their families are able and can afford to enrich them with cultural knowledge, language and reading skills, that not only prepare them for the schooling system, but also make them more valued in a classroom (Dumais 2006:84). The paper attempts to give an insight on the linkages between cultural capital, achievements in academics, and family background. In addition, the paper will compare Canada and the United Arab Emirates and explore the importance of cultural capital on a global scale. Social class affects educational attainment due to cultural capital differences and countries that allow for less creativity in their school system exacerbate this effect.

What is Cultural Capital?
It is a concept of Bourdieu, where non-financial assets (attitudes, etiquette, education, skills, etc.) that give a person advantages to attain higher status in society. According to Bourdieu (1997:49), cultural capital is acquired at birth and accumulates throughout our life span. It has three types: embodied in the mind and body, institutionalized in forms such as education, behaviors, attitudes, preferences, goods and credentials (Lamont and Lareau 1988), and objectified (books, paintings, etc.). Pierre Bourdieu argued that culture adds to the wealth (what you own, TV, bonds, yachts) and assets (any possession that has a value in an exchange) of a particular class. It enhances the youth, from birth, with advantages that are rewarded as higher statuses in society. Cultural capital, in other words, is any advantage a person has which gives him a higher status in society to achieve higher expectations. The most important cultural capital element is socializing cognitive qualities especially reading habits and linguistic fluency. (Farkas 1996; De Graaf, De Graaf and Kraakyamp 2000). Parents provide their children with cultural capital, the attitudes and knowledge that makes the educational system a comfortable and familiar place in which they can succeed easily. The cultural capital theory holds that children who are not familiar nor exposed to highbrow activities, such as museum visits or reading literature, will face a hostile school experience (indirect exclusion or teacher selection), lacking the skills required to achieve higher levels of educational attainment, refraining from it. (Kalmjin and Kraaykamp 1996). This is also supported by Aschaffenburg and Maas (1997) outcome that students with more and correct endowments, the skills and preferences of cultural capital, which tend to be students from upper-middle class families, tend to be better at adapting and further developing their cultural abilities. Moreover, they are rewarded by the educational system, and hence are aspire and achieve a higher social status later on. It is noteworthy that the rewards of educational attainment and cultural capital differ by social status, as suggested by Roscigno and Ainsworth- Darnell (1999).

Habitus is composed of a set of dispositions such as values, tastes, habits, outlook, sensibility, and patterns of thought. It is passively and socially constructed, acquired through acquired and develops over our lifetime as a result of our class position and our accumulation of social interactions particular...
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