Capital

Bourdieu argues that societies are differentiated vertically in terms of the amounts of the various forms of capital that agents possess, which they have acquired over time. He states that actors, depending on their socio-economic background, will acquire more of some capital than others. Therefore, capital in societies is not equally distributed, and the resultant effect of this is vertical differentiation or inequality. The possession of certain capital will give actors better life chances and opportunities than others. Capital for Bourdieu (2007 [1986]) refers to more than merely economic or monetary resources, although this form is of course important and present. He argues that there are other forms that also have enormous value: cultural, social and symbolic capital. Expanding the categorization of different forms of capital beyond economic capital suggests a move away from economic reductionism and or narrow definitions of selfinterest. This is particularly useful when it comes to social movement actors since they often seek reward that does not include monetary gain. According to Bourdieu, actors acquire certain amounts of the four types of capital - cultural, economic, social and symbolic - throughout their lifetime, depending on what environment they are born into, brought up in, educated, socialized and possibly exposed to. Once acquired, these forms of capital may be drawn upon and used within a specific field to access further resources or gain some success as part of the particular game that is being played out.

Bourdieu (2007 [1986]) provides a detailed argument and analysis of the various forms of capital that exist:

Cultural capital can exist in three forms: in the embodied state, i.e., in the form of long lasting dispositions of the mind and body, in the objectified state, in the form of cultural goods (pictures, books, dictionaries, instruments, machines etc.), which are the trace or realization of theories or critiques of these theories, problematics, etc., and in the institutionalized state, a form of objectification which must be set apart because ...it confers entirely original properties on the cultural capital which it is presumed to guarantee. (Bourdieu, 2007 [1986]: 84)

The objectified and institutionalized forms of cultural capital may become embodied within the individual through his/her life. However, the institutionalized form is independent of the individual. A prime example of this would be educational qualifications. While an individual may have learnt a great deal from studying for a qualification, the qualification in and of itself exists independently of the individual. Bourdieu goes on to explain how cultural capital through embodiment and, for example, academic qualifications may be converted into economic benefits in the marketplace.

The next form is social capital. Bourdieu argues that it is:

the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition - or in other words, to membership in a group - which provides each of its members with the backing of the collectivity-owned capital, a credential which entitles them to credit, in various senses of the word. (Bourdieu, 2007 [1986]: 88)

Therefore social capital includes connections with other people as part of networks, in the hope that some benefit, financial or otherwise, may be gained within a specific field. Bourdieu (2007 [1986]: 89) goes on to state that 'the profits which accrue from membership in a group are the basis of the solidarity which makes them possible'.

The possession of both cultural and social capital can lead to symbolic capital. This, according to Bourdieu:

refers to capital - in whatever form - insofar as it is represented, i.e. apprehended symbolically, in a relationship of knowledge, or more precisely, of misrecognition and recognition, [it] presupposes the intervention of the habitus, as a socially constituted cognitive capacity. (Bourdieu, 2007 [1986]: 93)

That is to say, this type of capital may manifest itself in various guises, but has a certain status and power attached. It could include an objective position that carries status with it in a particular field. The (mis)use of this type of power is sometimes classed as 'symbolic violence'. A prime example could be an authority figure in a school, such as a teacher exercising discipline or some control. In this instance the field would be the education field. Another example may be within the family field where a parent instructs a child to do or not do something, and then uses their status/power to make sure commands are carried out. It is therefore inextricably linked to recognition of authority within a field. Moreover, the rules of that field are established as structures and agents, to an extent, conform to them, except when there is a disagreement and/or if another group or person has symbolic power which can challenge the authority.

The final form of capital I wish to discuss is economic capital. In essence, economic capital refers to capital that includes money or other such property or commodities that have monetary value (Crossley, 2002a: 178). An important idea that Bourdieu discusses concerning economic capital is 'conversion'. He argues that the different types of capital, which have just been discussed, 'can be derived from economic capital, but only at the cost of a more or less great effort of transformation, which is needed to produce the type of power effective in the field in question' (Bourdieu, 2007 [1986]: 91). Of course, as he argues, economic capital can produce immediate results, but in other instances there are 'secondary costs'. In the latter instance it is akin to an investment. For example, legitimate educational qualifications, which are a form of institutionalized cultural capital, can only be obtained through study, time, etc. as well as money. They cannot be realized at that moment of payment for one's education. Even if objectified forms of cultural capital are bought, such as books or paintings, one has to read them and understand them before realizing the benefit. The same is true of social and symbolic capital. Sometimes immediate benefits from being wealthy will follow, such as invitations to certain social circles that have a degree of power and status. However, sometimes merely paying a membership fee will not necessarily allow access to formal or informal networks. This now touches on the cultural form of capital. Some social networks are closed off if one does not have the right cultural capital; did not attend the 'correct school', gain the correct qualifications, have the right vocabulary or come from a certain family background. It is now important to turn to the field part of the equation to demonstrate how the formula comes together.

 
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