Paper Example. Bourdieu Cultural Capital Theory

Published: 2023-02-27
Paper Example. Bourdieu Cultural Capital Theory
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Learning Culture Students Society
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1168 words
10 min read

The Bourdieu theory suggests that the culture of the middle class serves as legitimate in different extents, including in education. The author explains students' success in a learning environment based on the concept of capital culture (Bourdieu). Students who have been brought up in such backgrounds and assume the culture constitute a population of learners with the highest achievements. As such, the group of students usually succeed more than the rest, as indicated by their academic grades. Therefore, students from the working-class category tend to be disadvantaged in an education system since they are far apart from the 'legitimate' culture, which dominates the framework. I agree with this statement to a high degree because the assertions made by it are the true reflection of the education system. The cultures of the middle-class are highly praised in the learning environment (affordability of the learning materials, hiring of the best tutors, and so) since it sets the standards for success.

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Embodied State, Objectified State, and Institutionalized State of Bourdieu Theory

The cultural capital in education entails the concept of explaining the unequal achievement of students from diverse social classes. Bourdieu categorized cultural capital into three ideas, including embodied state, objectified state, and institutionalized state. The embodied state consists of an accumulation of the cultural capital that focuses on families with the cultural capital covering the entire period of socialization, mainly free time and economic necessity. An example of this cultural capital include is an individual's dialect or language. The objectified state includes material objects such as books, paintings, writings, and art used symbolically in learning. Examples include a record collection or a luxury car. The institutionalized state includes academic qualifications, more so, recognized the certificate of competence. For instance, educational certificates and credentials.

Concerted Cultivation and Natural Growth

Lareau reckons Bourdieu's theory regarding the role-play of culture in the success of students based on the social class. The author states that capital culture allows learners, whether from the middle and working classes, to use their patterns of values, general knowledge, familiar words, and talks from lives outside the learning environment to define their interactions within the school (Ballantine et al. 62). All children tend to possess cultural capital, which the most dominant culture related to their social class backgrounds. Lareau further notes that parents with higher cultural capital put more effort and participation in their children's learning, thereby offering stronger education support than those with lower cultural capital (Ballantine et al. 63). As such, this concept brings in the idea of both the concerted cultivation and natural growth.

Both the two forms of growth in the learning of children are related to particular social classes. The concerted cultivation is related to the middle class while natural growth to the working class. The education of middle-class learners is characterized by more involvement of parents in students' learning and the application of diverse techniques to support their education. Some of the parents have schedules and incorporate of the student's language of reasoning. Learning in the working class has reduced parents' participation since the parents have little concern regarding the success of their children. The parents are more concerned with the discipline and safety of their children than their academic achievement.

The concept matching my childhood experiences is concerted cultivation since my parents were much involved in learning. For example, we had a schedule of studying throughout the week, whether I would complete homework or other educational tasks. Therefore, my parents were much involved in my childhood learning.

Harvard Case

The Harvard case represents the potential flaws that might occur because of the execution of affirmative action in the education sector. The dispute was presented at Federal District Court in Boston, Mass, where the plaintiff had sued the institution alleging discrimination against Asian Americans in admissions (Harvard Affirmative Action Case). The plaintiff noted that Harvard had set higher standards for admitting Asian American students, thereby being penalized for accepting whites and other minorities. The arguments were that the school was using non-academic subjective measures to focus on personal ratings, presumably promoting stereotyping. The plaintiff required the institution to be coerced to use neutral race-based admissions by focusing on grades and test scores only. However, the court held the Harvard affirmative action education policy while rejecting allegations of race-based admission policy.

The ruling of the court and the perspectives of both the plaintiff and defendant can be explained using one of the theories learned in the classroom. Theories seek to interpret as well as predict practices and patterns amongst people in a social system. In this scenario, the models attempt to develop carefully developed arguments or explanations applicable to real-life events. Notably, since theories do not offer what happened in a situation precisely, they can be used to explain a particular education phenomenon based on carefully thought explanations. In this case, the Marx Conflict Theory is a superb framework for explaining the perceptions of the plaintiff in the Harvard scenario.

The Marx conflict theory focused on the causes and effects of the conflict between the social classes, particularly the capitalists and the working class or the poor. The framework focuses on the political, economic, and social implications of the society theorized to have a powerful group (the haves or the owners of the means of production) and oppressed populations (have not) (Ballantine et al. 57). The outcome of the social classes creates misunderstandings due to the conflicting interest of the resources available. Therefore, the plaintiff, Asian Americans consider themselves as have-nots since they don't have the voice to achieve their desired levels of participation in university admissions. Consequently, they have to compete for the available resources and opportunities to ensure the community is well-represented.

The Marx conflict model supports the plaintiff's perspective of the discrimination inflicted on the affirmative action policy against one community. Harvard's admission policy has a considerable impact on the existence of Asian-Americans in the institution as their population is being reduced as the school seeks to admit more students from other ethnic groups while limiting Asian Americans. The plaintiff argued that race is the predominant factors used by Harvard while making admission decisions, the classes are balanced racially, it intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans and prioritizes on race without first considering the race-neutral alternatives of creating diversity.

However, based on the ruling of the judge, the rejection of the plaintiff's arguments was more solid due to the commitment of the school and society at large to increase diversity. Without consideration, engagement, and involvement of all people inaccessibility of the available scarce resources, conflicts are inevitable at both the social and ethnic extents. I agree with the ruling because it promotes diversity across all the levels because a focus on test scores only and grades would disadvantage a majority of the ethnic groups, and therefore imbalances in jobs, developments, and other economic benefits would occur.

Works Cited

Ballantine, Jeanne H, Joan Z. Spade, and Jenny Stuber. Schools and Society: A Sociological Approach to Education, 2018. Print.

Bourdieu Pierre. The forms of capital, 1986.

Harvard Affirmative Action Case, 2019.

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