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Cultural Capital Theory Revisited: Explanations of Educational Reproduction and Beyond

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  • Education
  • Social Sciences


0 Cultural Capital Theory Revisited: Perspectives on Explanations of Educational Attainment* Martin D. Munk Professor of Sociology, Centre for Mobility Research, Aalborg University Troels Magelund Krarup Graduate Student in Sociology at University of Copenhagen April 2011 * Correspondence to Martin D. Munk, CMR, Department of Political Science, Aalborg University Copenhagen, A. C. Meyers Vaenge 15, Building: Frederikskaj 10B, 3, DK-2450 Copenhagen SV, Denmark, phone: +45 99 40 23 35, email: [email protected] 1 Cultural Capital Theory Revisited: Perspectives on Explanations of Educational Attainment We argue that simplistic accounts of cultural capital theory are present in much contemporary research on educational attainment, are related to the dominating focus on regression analysis and individual traits, and are resulting in exclusion of related dimensions such as habitus and social space. We argue for the possibility of incorporating these aspects into the regression analysis framework with the adequate data and analytical perspective. In particular, we call for an increased focus on institutions (rather than just individuals) and manières (i.e. ‘ways of doing’, rather than just activities), but also that interpretation should be made in a broader perspective than the one taking isolated effects as answers in themselves. In adapting these recommendations, quantitative research should also seek to profit more from historical, institutional and theoretical research. The concept of cultural capital is a cornerstone in Bourdieu’s theoretical and empirical work. However, the term has only reluctantly been defined by Bourdieu himself. For instance, in an important article (1986), he distinguished no less than three different forms: embodied (lasting dispositions in mind and body); objectified (possession of items); and institutionaliz

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