Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Bourdieu capital: four capital in social world

 What is capital?

Different people have a different social position in society. Why their position differs from one another? What determines the social position? The answer is: due to the possession of capital. In society, the possession of capital is not the same in all people. 

According to Bourdieu, "Capital is accumulated labor (in its materialised form or its ‘incorporated,’ embodied form) which, when appropriated on a private, i.e., exclusive, basis by agents or groups of agents, enables them to appropriate social energy in the form of reified or living labor."

Capital is what determines social position. It determines our choice or attitudes. It creates power. It makes the game of society play. In a similar view with Marx, Bourdieu also argues capital is the foundation of social life and determines one's position. But Marx considers capital as equivalent to economy whereas Bourdieu extends beyond the economic dimension. He classified the four forms of capital as below

1. Economic capital

2. Social capital

3. Cultural capital

4. Symbolic capital

Bourdieu four forms of capital

 According to Bourdieu, symbolic capital is the sum of economic, social and cultural capital. 

1. Economic capital 

This refers to all material assets like money, revenue, land or property etc. Bourdieu considers it is 'immediately and directly convertible into money and maybe institutionalized in the form of property rights'. In comparison, it is more easily convertible to other forms of capital. 

2. Cultural capital

This form of capital refers to the knowledge, skill, language, education etc.  This capital is transferred by family and educational institution and it is can be considered as the primary cause for the related position in social space. It exists in three states-

i. embodied state, 

ii. Objectified state, and 

iii. Institutionalized state. 

The embodied state is the form of knowledge, a skill that resides within the individual. The objectified state refers to the material objects used to represent a particular social class. Eg. Book, mobile, car, monuments etc. Institutionalized state refers to the form by which society measures social capital taking the form of a certificate of cultural competence. E.g qualification(diploma, degree, PhD). Two persons having different qualification have a different social position. 

 3. Social capital

This capital refers to the social network relationship of an individual. Whether it is actual or potential, it is legitimized by family or group. This capital can gain the power to access to material and non-material resources, knowledge, skills, information etc by reciprocity. 

4. Symbolic capital

This capital refers to the honour, prestige of individual. It cannot be gained within but from the summation of social, economic and cultural capital. 

Bourdieu argues that symbolic capital creates the power which is the foundation of one's social position within the field of society. The position is always relative and determined by the amount of capital possessed by the other individual. Capital is force inscribed in the objectivity of things, so all individual is not equal in the social field. Bourdieu's approach on capital helps us to navigate our focus not only on economic capital and but also beyond. It helps us to analyse how one's social position can be gained. 


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