Monday, December 28, 2020

Forms of Capital: Bourdieu and 11 Ways to Be Rich

When we think of the term “wealth” we are usually used to associating it with terms of money or property. Sometimes we will also talk about a person who is "rich in knowledge" or even "rich in friends". But sociology offers us a variety of ways to look at what makes us rich.

In his book "Forms of Capital", the renowned sociologist Pierre Bourdieu proposes to introduce, in addition to the discussion of economic capital, the concepts of social capital, cultural capital and symbolic capital. According to Bourdieu, social capital describes the human connection resources of human beings, their friends, the community and the dating and collaboration systems. The people we know, our connections and our frameworks of belonging can according to Bourdieu promote us in life and contribute to the level of wealth no less than the amount of money we have in the bank.

Cultural capital, according to Bourdieu, is the amount of knowledge a person has. Knowledge is capital no less than money because it can also be used by us to improve our situation in the world and live a better and more comfortable life.

Symbolic capital is expressed in the prestige and appreciation that a person receives. Even if I am a person who is not particularly rich in economic terms or even not particularly smart (cultural capital), I can still be rich in a sense if I gain privileged status within a particular community and people’s appreciation.

According to Bourdieu's theory, the different types of capital can be converted between them. For example, I can use my economic capital to acquire education (cultural capital) and use my education to acquire prestige and appreciation (symbolic capital) and through them also a system of connections (social capital). If I am rich in social capital then I can use it to improve my economic options and so on and so forth. According to Bourdieu, the different types of capital play an important role in social stratification and the replication of social status, since the upper classes in society tend to hold high levels of all types of capital.


Other forms of capital

Bourdieu's theory was developed to account for several other forms of capital:

Economic capital can be divided into several different types of capital, including financial capital, which is expressed in terms of money in the bank, and material capital, which is expressed in physical assets and assets. Similarly, cultural capital can be divided into academic capital that expresses a person's secondary education and the ability to translate it into success and professional capital that expresses a person's skills, training and certification system.

Another type of capital is individual capital which is defined as a talent or special qualities that a person has. Individual capital includes various skills (painting talent, music, etc.) but also personal skills such as creativity, initiative, daring, charisma and more.

Another type of capital is experiential capital that expresses a person's experiences in his life that he can translate into various benefits (almost every workplace today would prefer actual experience over theoretical training). Finally, another type of capital is spiritual capital which expresses a special accumulation of a combination of cultural, experiential and sometimes also social and even symbolic capital that brings the person to a better quality of life through a spiritual way.

Suggested reading on Bourdiue: