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Issue 1-2/2009

Okładka pierwszego numeru czasopisma Psychologia Społeczna


Cultural capital - assumptions and prospective applications 
of Pierre Bourdieu's theory

Tomasz Zarycki
Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw

The paper is an attempt at synthetic reconstruction of the theory of cultural capital of Pierre Bourdieu. It also presents a reflection on its potential application to analyses of contemporary Polish society. Different approaches to the definition of cultural capital as well as its relations with other types of capital distinguished by P.Bourdieu are discussed. In particular, relations between cultural capital and social as well as symbolic capital are discussed. Notions of "capital conversion", "reproduction" and "field" have been also presented. The theoretical and ideological context of the development of the theory of cultural capital is discussed, as well as its functions in the context of so-called "critical theory" and relations with the notion of "human capital". The notion of cultural capital has been also discussed in relation to the theory of symbolic violence. A number of criticisms of assumptions and observations made by Bourdieu made by different authors have been presented, in particular those suggesting that Bourdieu presents his conclusions pertaining to observations of contemporary French society as universal. Other reservations expressed about his theory discussed in the text included assumptions of coherence of dominant canons of the high culture in modern Western societies. The paper is concluded with a reflection on the relevance of cultural capital theory in the context of societies of Central and Eastern Europe, and in particular its uses for the study of the Polish society.

Key words: Cultural Capital, social Capital, critical sociology, Pierre Bourdieu, intelligentsia

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