The Three Generations of Cultural Capital Research: A Narrative Review Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • This article examines evolving uses of Bourdieu’s signature concept of Cultural Capital in American educational research. Bourdieu originally developed the concept in the 1960s and 1970s by mixing French intellectual traditions with ideas from American social science. American researchers have adopted the term over three generations. The first generation understood the concept during the 1970s and early 1980s within broader traditions of mobility research, educational stratification, and conflict theory. Between the late 1980s and early 2000s, a second generation produced three variants of the concept. Over the past decade, a third generation has elaborated those variants into three distinct streams. A first stream, the “DiMaggio tradition,” uses survey methods to conceive cultural capital as resources that shape student outcomes. A second stream, the “Lareau tradition,” uses qualitative observations to interpret cultural capital as family strategies that align with schools’ institutional rewards. A third stream, the “Collins tradition,” offers the most micro-oriented conception of cultural capital, seen as stocks of meanings that facilitate ritual interactions. We end by assessing this evolution and offering possibilities for a next generation of research.

publication date

  • June 2018