What Is Cultural Capital in Education?

Cultural capital in education refers to the idea that some students have an advantage over others because they have more exposure to and experience with cultural activities and concepts. This can give them a leg up in school and in life. But what exactly is cultural capital, and how can it be used to improve educational opportunities for all students?

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Cultural capital is the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that give people a advantage in life. It’s often thought of as being passed down from generation to generation within families, but it can also be gained through experiences and education.

While all children have the same potential to succeed, not all families have the same level of cultural capital. This can put some children at a disadvantage when they start school.

There are three main types of cultural capital: bourdieuian, human, and social. Bourdieuian cultural capital refers to the knowledge and skills that are valued by the dominant culture. Human cultural capital includes personality traits and abilities that make people successful. Social cultural capital is made up of the networks and relationships people have.

While all three types of cultural capital are important, bourdieuian cultural capital is often seen as the most important in education. This is because students who have bourdieuian cultural capital are more likely to succeed in school and go on to college. They’re also more likely to get jobs that pay well and have successful careers.

If you want your child to succeed in school, it’s important to make sure they have strong levels of all three types of cultural capital. You can do this by exposing them to new experiences, teaching them new skills, and helping them develop positive relationships with others.

What is Cultural Capital?

Cultural capital refers to the skills, knowledge, and/or assets that a person has that can help them succeed in life. These can be things like a good education, a well-paying job, or social connections. Having cultural capital can give a person an advantage over others who do not have it.

Bourdieu’s Theory of Cultural Reproduction

In his seminal work “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste,” French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu offers a theory of cultural reproduction that has been influential in educational research. According to Bourdieu, education serves to transmit class-based cultural capital from one generation to the next.

Cultural capital refers to the accumulated cultural knowledge, skills, and experiences that families can pass down to their children. This includes things like knowledge of art, literature, and history; awareness of social customs and etiquette; and fluency in a foreign language. Families who have more cultural capital are better equipped to help their children navigate the educational system and succeed in school.

Bourdieu’s theory helps explain why students from different social backgrounds often have different educational experiences and outcomes. Students from families with more cultural capital are more likely to attend prestigious schools, have access to better resources, and ultimately earn higher grades than their less- privileged peers. This perpetuates inequality because these students are then more likely to go on to achieve success in other areas of their lives.

Bourdieu’s theory has been criticized for its deterministic view of social class; however, it remains an important framework for understanding how education reproduces inequality.

Lareau’s Theory of Unequal Childhoods

In her ethnographic study entitled Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life, sociologist Annette Lareau argues that there are two distinct types of childhoods in the United States. Lareau calls these two types ” concerted cultivation ” and ” natural growth.” Children who experience concerted cultivation are those whose parents make a conscious effort to expose them to activities and experiences that will improve their human capital (i.e., their physical, cognitive, and social skills). These activities might include enrolling children in sports teams or lesson-based extracurricular activities, hiring tutors, or taking family vacations. In contrast, children who experience natural growth are those whose parents do not make such an effort. These children might be more likely to spend their free time playing with friends in their neighborhood or watching television.

Lareau argues that families from different socioeconomic backgrounds have different amounts of cultural capital, which influences the type of childhood they are able to provide for their children. Families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds tend to have less cultural capital, which limits the opportunities they are able to provide for their children. As a result, these children are more likely to experience natural growth childhoods. Families from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, on the other hand, tend to have more cultural capital, which gives them the ability to provide their children with concerted cultivation childhoods.

The concept of cultural capital is important in education because it can help explain why some students are more successful than others. Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who have experienced natural growth childhoods tend to enter school at a disadvantage relative to their peers from higher socioeconomic backgrounds who have experienced concerted cultivation childhoods. This is because the students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds have had more opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge that are valued in school settings. As a result, they tend to do better on standardized tests and earn higher grades than their peers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

How Does Cultural Capital Impact Education?

Cultural capital is the term used to describe the non-financial social assets that promote social mobility in a stratified society. Cultural capital can take many forms, such as education, skills, and social connections. In education, cultural capital refers to the ways in which students’ background knowledge and experiences can give them an advantage or disadvantage in school. In this article, we’ll discuss how cultural capital affects education and what you can do to level the playing field for all students.

The Relationship Between Cultural Capital and Schooling

Cultural capital refers to the skills, knowledge, and values that students bring with them to school. This includes not only academic skills, but also things like social skills, attitudes, and beliefs. Cultural capital can give students an advantage or a disadvantage in school, depending on how well it matches up with the culture of the school.

Schools are institutions that socialize young people into the dominant culture. They do this by teaching students the skills and knowledge that they need to succeed in the wider world. But not all students come to school with the same level of cultural capital. Some students have more of it than others.

So what is cultural capital in education? Simply put, it’s the difference between educational success and failure. Students with high levels of cultural capital are more likely to succeed in school, while those with low levels are more likely to struggle.

There are a number of reasons why cultural capital matters in education. First, schools are increasingly becoming more competitive places. They’re focused on preparing students for college and careers, and thus there’s less room for error. Students who don’t have the right skills and knowledge are at a disadvantage from the start.

Second, cultural capital is closely related to other forms of capital, such as economic capital. Families who have more money can afford to invest in their children’s education in a variety of ways, from private tutors to enrichment activities outside of school. This gives these kids a leg up on their peers from less affluent families.

Last, cultural capital is an important part of what sociologists call “the meritocracy.” In a meritocracy, people are supposed to be rewarded based on their talents and abilities, not their social status or family connections. But if some students have an unfair advantage because of their cultural capital, then the meritocracy doesn’t work as it should.

There’s no easy solution to the problem of unequal cultural capital in education. But recognizing the role that it plays is an important first step.

The Impact of Cultural Capital on Educational Outcomes

While the concept of cultural capital is not new, its application to education is a relatively recent development. The idea is that students from different social backgrounds have access to different types of resources – including financial, social, and cultural resources – which can impact their educational outcomes.

There is a growing body of research that suggests that cultural capital does in fact have an impact on educational outcomes. Studies have shown that students from higher socio-economic backgrounds tend to outperform their peers from lower socio-economic backgrounds, even when controlling for other factors such as IQ and prior achievement.

There are a number of possible explanations for this phenomenon, but one of the most likely is that students from higher socio-economic backgrounds have greater access to resources – including cultural capital – which gives them an advantage in school. While more research needs to be done in this area, the evidence so far suggests that cultural capital does matter when it comes to education.


Cultural capital is a concept in sociology, related to educational attainment. It refers to the idea that some groups of people have more cultural knowledge than others, and that this gives them an advantage in achieving success in life.

There is a lot of debate over whether or not cultural capital exists, and if it does, whether or not it is fair. Some people argue that it is an important factor in helping people succeed, while others argue that it perpetuates inequality and is unfair to those who don’t have access to it.

The concept of cultural capital has been used to explain why some groups of people are more successful than others, but it is also a controversial topic. There is still much research needed to better understand how it works and its impact on society.

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