This article needs additional citations for verification . (September 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In sociology and anthropology, symbolic capital can be referred to as the resources available to an individual on the basis of honor, prestige or recognition, and serves as value that one holds within a culture. A war hero, for example, may have symbolic capital in the context of running for political office.
Sociology is the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change or social evolution. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro-sociology level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.
Anthropology is the study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.
Theorists have argued that symbolic capital accumulates primarily from the fulfillment of social obligations that are themselves embedded with potential for prestige. Much as with the accumulation of financial capital, symbolic capital is 'rational' in that it can be freely converted into leveraging advantage within social and political spheres. Yet unlike financial capital, symbolic capital is not boundless, and its value may be limited or magnified by the historical context in which it was accumulated. Symbolic capital must be identified within the cultural and historical frame through which it originated in order to fully explain its influence across cultures.
Objects, as abstract representations of their environments, may also possess symbolic capital. This capital may be embedded in the built environment, or urban form of a city, as a symbolic representation of that land's cultural value. For example, landmarks usually have symbolic value and utility. They become landmarks precisely because they have symbolic value. This reciprocal relationship provides the landmark with cultural or environmental meaning, while at the same time lending its environment a layer of prestige.
The concept of symbolic capital is grounded in the theory of conspicuous consumption, first introduced and expounded in late-19th century works by Thorstein Veblen and Marcel Mauss. Veblen argued that the nouveau riche utilized lavish displays of wealth to symbolize their entrance into a previously-insulated upper class, embodying objects with meaning that existed only to magnify and confirm their newfound class and status.Mauss subsequently expanded on this argument, suggesting that social competitions for prestige favored those who spent recklessly and forced others into "the shadow of his name". Mauss' theory marked a departure from Veblen's in that he did not seek to frame the individual actor's actions within a cultural context; instead, his theory focused on the overarching structural implementation of status boundaries. Both of these conceptualizations, in turn, provided groundwork for Bourdieu's unifying theory of symbolic capital.
Conspicuous consumption is the spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power—of the income or of the accumulated wealth of the buyer. To the conspicuous consumer, such a public display of discretionary economic power is a means of either attaining or maintaining a given social status.
Thorstein Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist who became famous as a witty critic of capitalism.
Marcel Mauss was a French sociologist. The nephew of Émile Durkheim, Mauss' academic work traversed the boundaries between sociology and anthropology. Today, he is perhaps better recognised for his influence on the latter discipline, particularly with respect to his analyses of topics such as magic, sacrifice, and gift exchange in different cultures around the world. Mauss had a significant influence upon Claude Lévi-Strauss, the founder of structural anthropology. His most famous book is The Gift (1925).
The explicit concept of symbolic capital was coined by Pierre Bourdieu, and is expanded upon in his books Distinction and, later, in Practical Reason: on the Theory of Action. Along with theories forwarded by Veblen and Mauss, symbolic capital is an extension of Max Weber's analysis of status. Bourdieu argues that symbolic capital gains value at the cross-section of class and status, where one must not only possess but be able to appropriate objects with a perceived or concrete sense of value.
Pierre Félix Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher and public intellectual.
The concept of social capital was originally articulated by L. J. Hanifan in a 1916 journal article, The Rural School Community Center, in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. He included a chapter on the subject in his 1920 book, The Community Center. The term social capital was later used by Jane Jacobs in her influential writing on urban planning, The Death and Life of Great American Cities . Social capital was defined to explain the inherent value formed in neighborhood relationships which allowed members to cooperate and establish a communal sense of trust. Bourdieu, similarly, explains social capital as the degree to which actors are capable of subsisting together in social structures that are often heterogeneous in nature. Where symbolic capital is earned on an individual basis and may fluctuate widely between members in a community, social capital is the overarching sense of trust and cooperation that actors in an environment possess in between one another. An actor may possess a great degree of symbolic capital while isolating themselves from the community, resulting in a low level of social capital, or vice versa.
Social capital broadly refers to those factors of effectively functioning social groups that include such things as interpersonal relationships, a shared sense of identity, a shared understanding, shared norms, shared values, trust, cooperation, and reciprocity. However, the many views of this complex subject make a single definition difficult.
Lyda Judson Hanifan, better known as L. J. Hanifan, is credited with introducing the concept of social capital. Robert Putnam in his book, Bowling Alone (2000) credits a 1916 paper by Hanifan as the first recorded instance of the term. Hanifan also authored a book published in 1920 that contains a chapter entitled "Social Capital".
Jane Jacobs was an American-Canadian journalist, author, and activist who influenced urban studies, sociology, and economics. Her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) argued that urban renewal did not respect the needs of city-dwellers. It also introduced the sociological concepts "eyes on the street" and "social capital".
What follows is a non-exhaustive list of what may constitute symbolic capital. A county commission may recruit local neighborhood leaders to help with zoning laws based on those individuals' prior accomplishments in improving infrastructure or bridging ties at the community level. Activists may hold more leverage in social or political arenas based on their prior experiences (see: combat veterans protesting war, former police chiefs protesting brutality, and so on). Financing or supporting a nation's war efforts may award an individual with social capital should that effort also be accepted by the citizens within the culture. Olympic medalists often serve as embodiments of a nation's prestige.
Habitus is ingrained habits, skills, and dispositions. It is the way that individuals perceive the social world around them and react to it. These dispositions are usually shared by people with similar backgrounds. The habitus is acquired through imitation (mimesis) and is the reality that individuals are socialized, which includes their individual experience and opportunities. Thus, the habitus represents the way group culture and personal history shape the body and the mind, and as a result, shape present social actions of an individual.
A subculture is a group of people within a culture that differentiates itself from the parent culture to which it belongs, often maintaining some of its founding principles. Subcultures develop their own norms and values regarding cultural, political and sexual matters. Subcultures are part of society while keeping their specific characteristics intact. Examples of subcultures include hippies, goths and bikers. The concept of subcultures was developed in sociology and cultural studies. Subcultures differ from countercultures.
Urban sociology is the sociological study of life and human interaction in metropolitan areas. It is a normative discipline of sociology seeking to study the structures, environmental processes, changes and problems of an urban area and by doing so provide inputs for urban planning and policy making. In other words, it is the sociological study of cities and their role in the development of society. Like most areas of sociology, urban sociologists use statistical analysis, observation, social theory, interviews, and other methods to study a range of topics, including migration and demographic trends, economics, poverty, race relations and economic trends.
The term social order can be used in two senses. In the first sense, it refers to a particular set or system of linked social structures, institutions, relations, customs, values and practices, which conserve, maintain and enforce certain patterns of relating and behaving. Examples are the ancient, the feudal, and the capitalist social order. In the second sense, social order is contrasted to social chaos or disorder and refers to a stable state of society in which the existing social structure is accepted and maintained by its members. The problem of order or Hobbesian problem, which is central to much of sociology, political science and political philosophy, is the question of how and why it is that social orders exist at all.
Economic anthropology is a field that attempts to explain human economic behavior in its widest historic, geographic and cultural scope. It is practiced by anthropologists and has a complex relationship with the discipline of economics, of which it is highly critical. Its origins as a sub-field of anthropology began with work by the Polish founder of anthropology Bronislaw Malinowski and the French Marcel Mauss on the nature of reciprocity as an alternative to market exchange. For the most part, studies in economic anthropology focus on exchange. In contrast, the Marxian school known as "political economy" focuses on production.
The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899), by Thorstein Veblen, is a treatise on economics and a detailed, social critique of conspicuous consumption, as a function of social class and of consumerism, derived from the social stratification of people and the division of labour, which are the social institutions of the feudal period that have continued to the modern era.
The German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) formulated a three-component theory of stratification that defines a status group as a group of people who, within a society, can be differentiated on the basis of non-economic qualities such as honour, prestige, ethnicity, race and religion.
In the field of sociology, cultural capital comprises the social assets of a person that promote social mobility in a stratified society. Cultural capital functions as a social-relation within an economy of practices, and comprises all of the material and symbolic goods, without distinction, that society considers rare and worth seeking. As a social relation within a system of exchange, cultural capital includes the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers social status and power.
In sociology, taste is an individual's personal and cultural patterns of choice and preference. Taste is drawing distinctions between things such as styles, manners, consumer goods, and works of art and relating to these. Social inquiry of taste is about the human ability to judge what is beautiful, good, and proper.
The sociology of culture, and the related cultural sociology, concerns the systematic analysis of culture, usually understood as the ensemble of symbolic codes used by a member of a society, as it is manifested in the society. For Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Culture in the sociological field is analyzed as the ways of thinking and describing, acting, and the material objects that together shape a group of people's way of life.
The concept of symbolic power was first introduced by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu to account for the tacit, almost unconscious modes of cultural/social domination occurring within the everyday social habits maintained over conscious subjects. Symbolic power accounts for discipline used against another to confirm that individual's placement in a social hierarchy, at times in individual relations but most basically through system institutions, in particular education.
The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is mostly concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing education.
Cultural reproduction is the transmission of existing cultural values and norms from generation to generation. Cultural reproduction refers to the mechanisms by which continuity of cultural experience is sustained across time. Cultural reproduction often results in social reproduction, or the process of transferring aspects of society from generation to generation.
Sexual capital or erotic capital is the social value an individual or group accrues, as a result of their sexual attractiveness. As with other forms of capital, sexual capital is convertible, and may be useful in acquiring other forms of capital, including social capital and economic capital.
A sexual field is an arena of social life wherein individuals seek intimate partners and vie for sexual status. Sexual fields emerge "when a subset of actors with potential romantic or sexual interest orient themselves toward one another according to a logic of desirability imminent to their collective relations and this logic produces, to greater and lesser degrees, a system of stratification". The term builds on Pierre Bourdieu's (1980) concept of field and has been defined as a "set of interlocking institutions" and an "institutionalized matrix of relations" that confers status upon sexual actors based on individual variation in sexual capital. Relative to those with a sexual capital deficit, actors in possession of sexual capital reap the rewards of the sexual field—including the ability to select desired sexual partners and the acquisition of social significance.
"Gifting remittances" describes a range of scholarly approaches relating remittances to anthropological literature on gift giving. The terms draws on Lisa Cliggett’s “gift remitting,” but is used to describe a wider body of work. Broadly speaking, remittances are the money, goods, services, and knowledge that migrants send back to their home communities or families. Remittances are typically considered as the economic transactions from migrants to those at home. While remittances are also a subject of international development and policy debate and sociological and economic literature, this article focuses on ties with literature on gifting and reciprocity or gift economy founded largely in the work of Marcel Mauss and Marshall Sahlins. While this entry focuses on remittances of money or goods, remittances also take the form of ideas and knowledge. For more on these, see Peggy Levitt's work on "social remittances" which she defines as “the ideas, behaviors, identities, and social capital that flow from receiving to sending country communities.”
Practice theory is a theory of how social beings, with their diverse motives and their diverse intentions, make and transform the world which they live in. It is a dialectic between social structure and human agency working back and forth in a dynamic relationship. Practice theory, as outlined by Sherry Ortner, "seeks to explain the relationship(s) that obtain between human action, on the one hand, and some global entity which we call 'the system' on the other". The approach seeks to resolve the antinomy between traditional structuralist approaches and approaches such as methodological individualism which attempted to explain all social phenomena in terms of individual actions.
Educational capital refers to educational goods that are converted into commodities to be bought, sold, withheld, traded, consumed, and profited from in the educational system. Educational capital can be utilized to produce or reproduce inequality, and it can also serve as a leveling mechanism that fosters social justice and equal opportunity. Educational capital has been the focus of study in Economic anthropology, which provides a framework for understanding educational capital in its endeavor to understand human economic behavior using the tools of both economics and anthropology.