Cultural Capital: Why It is Important in Education?




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You might be thinking of what cultural capital is and why it is important for education. The concept was first introduced by Pierre Bourdieu in his book “Distinction” (1984).

He defined cultural capital as a set of skills that are acquired through socialization into an elite group or class. These skills include knowledge about art, music, literature, history, science, etc., which can then be used to gain access to other forms of capital such as economic, political, educational, legal, and so on.

Cultural capital also includes one’s sense of taste and aesthetic judgment. It is this last aspect of cultural capital that has been most closely associated with school success. In fact, some researchers have argued that there may not even be any direct relationship between academic achievement and cultural capital.

In this article, we will look at the role of cultural capital in education. Stay around with me!

Definitions: Defining the meaning of cultural capital

In this section, we will look at what cultural capital is. We will do that by looking at the definitions of Pierre Bourdieu and Ofsted of the concept or theory.

Cultural capital, according to Pierre Bourdieu, is “the set of dispositions which make it possible for a person to play an active part in society.” This definition shows us that culture can be defined as the way people think about things. The term ‘dispositions’ refers to how someone thinks about something.

 For example, if you are thinking about your favorite food, then you have certain dispositions towards that food. If you were not thinking about your favorite food, then you would probably not even know what it was. So, by having these thoughts about your favorite foods, you are forming habits that will help you eat those foods when they come along.

These habits are called “cultural capital” because they allow you to participate more fully in social life. They also make it easier for you to learn new ways of doing things and adapt to different situations. You can use this knowledge to build a better future for yourself. This is why I think the concept of “cultural capital” has been so important over time.

According to Pierre Bourdieu, there are four forms of capital, and cultural capital is just one of them. The other capitals are economic capital, symbolic capital, and political capital.

Economic capital refers to money or resources that you have accumulated through hard work. Symbolic capital means how others perceive you based on what you do or say.

Political capital is power within society.

Cultural capital is the most abstract form of capital because it does not refer directly to material wealth but rather to your ability to acquire status in society by using certain skills or behaviors. In this case, culture includes things like race, ethnicity, gender, religion, class, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, etc.

It is about understanding the culture of your society. It gives you the advantage of being able to understand and interact with people who are different from you. This can be a great asset when trying to get ahead in life.

Ofsted’s Cultural Capital refers to “the knowledge, attitudes, values, beliefs, customs, traditions, practices, and styles that make up one’s cultural identity”. The key element of cultural capital is its capacity for change over time; it does not remain static but evolves as societies develop. In this sense, cultural capital differs from other forms of social capital, such as power or prestige, because it is more dynamic than these types of capital.

It has been suggested by some sociologists that the concept of cultural capital may have originated from Bourdieu’s theory of class, which was developed during the 1970s. However, according to Bourdieu himself, his work did not directly lead to the idea of cultural capital.

Why is Cultural Capital Important for Education?

The following are some of the reasons why cultural capital is important in education.

1. Helps students develop a strong sense of identity

In order for students to have a strong sense of identity, they need access to cultural capital. Cultural capital is what allows people to develop their own unique sense of self. It includes things like knowledge, skills, and experiences that are related to a particular culture. This can help students feel more connected to their culture and develop a stronger sense of identity.

One way that cultural capital can help students is by providing them with a sense of belonging. When students feel like they belong to a group, it can give them a stronger sense of identity. This is especially important for students who come from marginalized communities. Having access to cultural capital can help these students feel more connected to their heritage and give them the strength they need to fight against discrimination.

2. Enhances creativity and problem-solving skills

There are a number of benefits that come along with having a high level of cultural capital. One such benefit is that it enhances creativity and problem-solving skills. This is because those who have a strong cultural capital are often more open-minded and willing to consider different perspectives.

They are also more likely to be able to see the connections between different pieces of information, which can help them come up with creative solutions to problems. Additionally, those with a high level of cultural capital tend to be better at critical thinking and reasoning, which can also help them solve problems more effectively.

3. Encourages a love of learning

One of the benefits of having cultural capital is that it encourages a love of learning. This happens in a few ways.

First, people with cultural capital often have access to more opportunities to learn. They may be able to attend better schools or have more exposure to different types of knowledge. They may also be more likely to engage in lifelong learning opportunities.

Secondly, people with cultural capital are often more interested in learning for its own sake. They enjoy exploring new things and expanding their horizons. Finally, people with cultural capital tend to view learning as a valuable activity. They see it as a way to improve themselves and their lives. All of these factors contribute to a stronger love of learning.

4. Helps build social and communication skills

One of the benefits of cultural capital is that it helps build social and communication skills. This is because cultural capital provides a person with knowledge and exposure to different people, cultures, and experiences. By having this knowledge and exposure, a person can learn how to communicate effectively with others from different backgrounds.

Additionally, cultural capital can help build social skills by providing a person with access to social networks and opportunities. These social networks and opportunities can help a person meet new people, make friends, and develop relationships. Thus, cultural capital can play an important role in helping a person build social and communication skills.

5. Promotes teamwork and cooperation

When most people think of cultural capital, they think of things like education and money. However, cultural capital can also include things like social networks and shared values. Researchers have found that cultural capital can promote teamwork and cooperation.

One reason cultural capital can promote teamwork is because it helps create trust. When people share the same values and customs, they are more likely to trust one another. This trust can help them work together more effectively.

Cultural capital can also help teams communicate better. When team members share a common culture, they are more likely to understand each other’s communication signals. This can make it easier for them to collaborate and achieve their goals.

Finally, cultural capital can help teams stay focused on their goals. When team members share a common culture, they are less likely to get sidetracked by distractions.

6. Encourages leadership skills

In order to develop leadership skills, it is important for students to have access to cultural capital. Cultural capital refers to the resources that a person has access to, which can include money, education, and social networks. These resources can help people succeed in life.

How does cultural capital encourage leadership skills in students? One way is that it provides students with opportunities to learn new things. For example, if a student has access to museums or other cultural institutions, they can learn about different cultures and ways of thinking. This can help them become more creative and innovative leaders.

Another way that cultural capital encourages leadership skills is by providing students with exposure to different role models. If a student has access to successful professionals or leaders in their community, they can learn from their experiences and adopt their strategies for success.

7. Enhances critical thinking skills

In order to develop critical thinking skills, students need opportunities to engage in thoughtful discussion and analysis. Cultural capital can play an important role in providing these opportunities.

For example, exposure to different cultural perspectives can help students question their own assumptions and better understand the complexities of the world around them. Additionally, engaging with culturally rich material can help students develop strong analytical skills and hone their ability to think critically.

By encouraging students to explore different aspects of culture, educators can provide them with the tools they need to think critically and make informed decisions.

Examples of Cultural Capital in the Classroom

When most people think of the term “cultural capital,” they likely imagine wealthy people attending exclusive art galleries or concerts. However, cultural capital can be found in many different places, including the classroom. Cultural capital in the classroom refers to the use of culturally based teaching methods and resources that help students learn about their own culture and the cultures of others.

Using cultural capital in the classroom can help students develop a better understanding of themselves and others, as well as improve academic achievement.

The following are some of the examples of cultural capital in the classroom:

1) The teacher may introduce an activity related to his/her personal background, such as reading stories from books written by members of one’s family or exploring the history of one’s hometown through travelogues.

2) Students might be asked to share information about their families’ traditions and customs with other classmates. This could include sharing recipes for holidays, describing favorite foods, talking about how they celebrate certain events, etc.

3) Teachers can also ask students questions that require them to think critically about aspects of culture not discussed during class time. For example, teachers might have a student write an essay explaining why he thinks it is important to learn more about different cultures.

4) As mentioned earlier, cultural awareness is something that we should all strive to develop throughout our lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re in elementary school, middle school, high school, college, graduate school, post-graduate work, retirement home, nursing home, hospital, jail.

5) In addition to the above suggestions, there are many other ways for adults and children alike to gain knowledge about various topics related to culture. One way would be through reading books written by authors from diverse backgrounds or listening to audio recordings produced by people who represent multiple ethnicities.

6) Lastly, it’s important to remember that just because someone has a different skin color than yours does not mean they have less of an appreciation for your heritage.

How to Build Cultural Capital in Classroom/Schools

In this section, I wish to discuss with you some of the ways to develop cultural capital in schools. In order for students to be able to learn effectively, they must first understand their own cultures as well as those of others. The following suggestions will help teachers build a foundation upon which all other learning can take place:

1. Teach About Your Own Culture

Teach students about their culture. This is an important part of developing cultural capital because it helps them see themselves and their world from another perspective. It also gives them insight into how people think differently than they do. For example, if your school has many African American or Hispanic students, teach them about these groups’ history and traditions.

If you have Asian students in the class, talk to them about what makes them different from Americans. You may even want to invite some of your friends who are members of that group to come to speak with your class. Doing this will help build a sense of community among all of your students.

2. Create an Environment That Is Free from Prejudice and Discrimination

It is undeniable that many people are discriminated against for their ethnic background, skin color, gender, age, etc. Society needs to take action to create an environment where everyone can be judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.

A place that is free from prejudice and discrimination. This means creating a safe space in which you as a teacher can teach without fear or worry about being attacked because of your ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc. It also means teaching in such a way that does not promote any type of bias toward one particular culture over another. In order to do this, we must first understand what it really means to be racist.

Racism is defined as: “the belief that all members of different races are inferior to each other”. The problem with racism is that it leads people to believe that they have some sort of right to judge others based on how they look rather than who they truly are inside. This can lead to discrimination and prejudice against certain groups of people.

For example, if you were born into an African American family but grew up around white families, then you may begin to think that black people are lazy and uneducated simply because the majority of their friends and neighbors happen to be white.

3. Provide Opportunities For Students to Learn about Other Cultures

Cultural capital is the currency of power granted to those who are part of an elite class by virtue of their social status, wealth, and/or education. It was originally bestowed on the aristocracy during feudal times.

Cultural capital is important in education because it can create opportunities for students to learn about other cultures and perspectives that they may not be exposed to on a daily basis. This will help them develop empathy toward others as well as gain knowledge about how different groups view things differently from one another. The more exposure these children have to cultural diversity, the better prepared they’ll become in society.

4. Encourage Intercultural Communication

Intercultural communication is an aspect of education that has become more prevalent in recent years. It is the process of understanding and working with cultures different from one’s own, and it is necessary for educational progress in today’s globalized society.

There are three levels of cultural capital in education: personal capital, relational capital, and institutional/societal capital. Personal cultural capital includes knowledge about oneself, self-acceptance, and self-confidence. Relational cultural capital involves relationships between people who share a common culture or language. Institutional cultural capital refers to how institutions such as schools, businesses, government agencies, etc., operate within their respective societies.

You must encourage students to engage in intercultural communication and with that, they will build their cultural capital. This is the most important part of your curriculum because it helps them develop an understanding of other cultures and languages. It also gives them opportunities for personal growth by helping them understand themselves better through learning more about others.

5. Develop Cultural Competence Among Teachers

Cultural capital in education is one of many factors that can give a child an advantage in school. Teachers should be culturally competent and aware of the teaching methods, language, and values of their students so they can promote all students’ success.

If teachers are not culturally competent or do not know how to teach certain subjects, then this will affect student achievement. Students who have access to different types of culture may learn differently than those without such access.

This means that some children might need extra help with reading comprehension because they lack cultural knowledge. In order for schools to become culturally diverse, they must first develop their own diversity within themselves. Schools cannot expect other people to change if they don’t want to change as well.

Check our blog page for more information on how to become an effective teacher.

6. Use Multicultural Curricula

Cultural capital is the access to knowledge, language, and customs that are typically associated with social class or race. One way to promote equity in education is through the use of multicultural curricula.

Multicultural curriculums expose students to different cultures and offer them a richer life experience by encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students who have been exposed to cultural capital will be more likely to succeed academically because their minds are open to new ideas and experiences. The goal of using a multicultural curriculum should not only be for educational purposes but also for personal growth.

By exposing children to other cultures, they can learn about themselves as well as others. This exposure allows children to understand how people from all walks of life think and live. It is important that we teach our youth the importance of diversity in order to prepare them for an increasingly diverse world.

7. Build Community Partnerships

An article about how schools can build community partnerships. School districts are increasingly looking at ways to integrate the arts into their curriculum in order to help address an overall lack of cultural capital in schools.

Specifically, schools are seeking partners who offer students exposure to the arts and humanities, including museums, libraries, art shows, theater productions, among other things. The goal here is not only to expose children to these opportunities but also to provide a safe space where they feel comfortable exploring new ideas and learning more about themselves through creative expression.

This type of partnership allows for both parties to benefit from each other’s strengths: school districts gain access to resources that may be difficult or impossible to obtain on their own; artists get to reach out to communities with which they might otherwise have little contact.

8. Support Student-Run Organizations

Supporting student-run organizations is one way to encourage active participation in the school culture. Student-run organizations are an excellent way for students to take control of their education and learn what it means to be a leader.

These organizations also offer students the opportunity to collaborate with other students on projects that are both educational and rewarding. Students can gain valuable experience by working alongside professionals while gaining leadership skills through mentorship from faculty members. Additionally, these groups allow students to develop relationships with people outside of their immediate social circles.

9. Promote International Education

International education is something that needs to be promoted to young people today. As globalization and technology advance, it will become more and more important for people to have a global perspective and understanding of other cultures.

There are many benefits of international education, such as improving one’s cultural capital, which leads to higher academic achievement and greater earnings potential. It also helps build networks across borders, which can lead to new job opportunities.

The United States has been the top destination for foreign students since 2000, but China surpassed them in 2007. In addition, there were over 1 million Chinese studying abroad in 2009. This number was expected to increase by another 500,000 in 2010.

10. Celebrate Diversity in the Classroom

It is important to recognize diversity in the classroom. It can be beneficial to have a diverse classroom, given that students are more likely to find peers that share their interests and backgrounds, which allows them to thrive.

Multiple perspectives, ideas, and interests are illustrated when there is a diverse student body. Students who feel comfortable with others of different races or ethnicities may also become better leaders because they will not fear offending someone else’s beliefs.

Furthermore, it has been shown that people tend to learn from those whom they identify as similar to themselves. This means that if you want your child to succeed academically, he/she should try his best to get along well with other children at school.


It is difficult to measure the true impact of cultural capital on education. Though the use of logos and other symbols as a form of advertisement has been found to increase consumption, it is unclear if this could be applied to academic performance. However, there are many ways in which culture can influence learning. For example, students who learn about their own cultures through travel or study abroad may find it easier to understand concepts taught in class because these experiences help them relate what they see and hear to things they already know. Students with high levels of cultural capital tend to perform better academically than those without. This suggests that cultural capital has an effect on educational outcomes. The relationship between cultural capital and educational achievement is complex; however, it seems clear that higher levels of cultural capital lead to greater success in school.

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