Chapter 7: Cultural capital and educational inequality: an assessment of the state of the art
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I address the usefulness of Pierre Bourdieu's theory of cultural reproduction, and his concept of cultural capital, for explaining inequality. I argue that while Bourdieu's theory lacks clarity, recent research provides a useful framework for conceptualizing the mechanisms through which cultural capital affects inequality. I also review the empirical literature and conclude that we know less about the role of cultural capital in explaining inequality than is commonly assumed. Finally, I suggest that the concept of cultural capital, stripped of some of its 'legacy content', might be useful for capturing a set of non-cognitive skills (such as creativity, academic confidence, and persistence) that parents transmit to children and that affect inequality.