Educational Achievement in Zimbabwe: Relevance of Bourdieu's Cultural Capital Concept

Pages: 5 (1345 words) Published: April 23, 2015


NAME…………………………………JOSEPH MASEKO
REG NUMBER………………………..M142172
PROGRAME………………BSC HONS IN PEACE, CONFLICT AND GOVERNANCE LEVEL/PART…………………………1.2
YEAR…………………………………2015
COURSE CODE………………………SOC109
LECTURER……………………………MR M CHUMA
CELL NUMBER………………………0772395822/0716801047
ASSIGNMENT TOPIC/QUESTION……………… DISCUSS THE RELEVANCE OF BOURDIEU’S CULTURAL CAPITAL CONCEPT IN EXPLAINING EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT IN ZIMBABWE. EMAIL ADDRESS……………………jasbro66@gmail.com
MARK……………………………………………………………………………………….... COMMENT…………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………….... …………………………………………………………………………………………………

DISCUSS THE RELEVANCE OF BOURDIEU’S CULTURAL CAPITAL CONCEPT IN EXPLAINING EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT IN ZIMBABWE. The concept of cultural capital originates in Pierre Bourdieu’s cultural reproduction theory (Bourdieu, 1984). Bourdieu argued that individuals and families’ cultural resources comprise a distinct form of capital which should be regarded on equal terms as economic resources and social networks and connections (see Bourdieu 1986; Bourdieu and Passeron 1990). Although Bourdieu’s definition of cultural capital is rather hazy, Sullivan (2002) argues that at the most general level cultural capital pertains to knowledge of the dominant conceptual and normative codes inscribed in a culture. Cultural capital is used by individuals or groups positioned at different levels in social hierarchies as a means of either promoting relative social advantage or as a conduit for accessing other economic or social advantages over the generality of society. As a result, cultural capital enables individuals and families with knowledge of institutionalized high-status cultural signals to exclude others from advantaged social positions or high-status groups (Lamont and Lareau 1988:156). Cultural capital promotes educational success through different channels (Bourdieu 1984 and Passeron 1990). First, children inherit cultural capital from their parents, either passively via exposure to parents’ cultural capital or actively via parents’ deliberate efforts to transfer cultural capital to children (Cheung and Andersen 2003; Lareau 2003). This cultural capital is embedded in children’s knowledge, language, and the way they behave. (Dumais, 2002). Thus, cultural capital equips children with cultural endowments and, in its embodied state, with skills with which to demonstrate their cultural endowments. Secondly, the educational system is designed to recognize and reward cultural capital. The writer will discuss the relevance and applicability of Bourdieu’s cultural capital theory as a gateway to educational success in Zimbabwe. According to Bourdieu (1977), cultural capital is a scarce resource which equips individuals with knowledge, practical skills, and a sense of the rules of the game in the educational system which is recognized and rewarded by the teachers and friends. The assumption in Pierre Bourdieu’s famous cultural reproduction theory is that cultural capital, transferred over generations and possessed by families and individuals, is an important resource which contributes to individuals’ educational success. He argues that schools are middle class institutions run by middle class people in which middle class students perform much better than compared to working class students. In Zimbabwe the culture is that parents who are able to send children to good schools are themselves educated and their children perform better than those from the working class as their environment is enabling. Working class parents do not see the need to send their children to good schools as they are uneducated hence do not see the requirement. Children from sound backgrounds usually get parental assistance when carrying out homework and are better prepared for examinations unlike their counterparts from less privileged backgrounds. Working class parents will mostly be tired after labouring in the...

References: Bourdieu, P. (1986). ‘The Forms of Capital’, in Richardson, John G., ed., Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, New York: Greenwood.
Coleman, S. (1988). Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 94, Supplement: Organizations nd Institutions: Sociological and Economic Approaches to the Analysis of Social Structure, pp. S95-S120.
O’Donnell, M. (1992). A new introduction to Sociology. London: Harrap Limited.
Sullivan, A. (2000). Cultural Capital; Rational Choice and Educational Inequalities. PhD thesis, Oxford University.
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