The Forms of Capital

What is capital?

  • “Accumulated labor which […] enables [agents] to appropriate social energy in the form of reified or living labor.” - Bourdieu
  • Three types:
    • Economic
    • Cultural
    • Social

Economic Capital

  • Money
  • Factories
  • Businesses

Cultural capital

  • Culture, cultivation, assimilation
  • Developing a way of seeing and acting in the world
  • Also education and technical skills
  • Mostly “embodied”

Social Capital

  • “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition”
  • Bourdieu describes this as membership in a group
    • Families
    • Schools
    • Parties
    • Etc.
  • Our social connections can help us to mobilize the capital (cultural and economic) of others

What is capital for?

  • Some goods are “purchased” with different kinds of labor
    • E.g., emotional support and friendship
  • For Bourdieu, the goal is to improve and ensure position in social space
  • Capital can be traded for other kinds of capital.
    • Money + time for education
    • Gifts -> social capital

How can we identify when people have social capital?

  • Closure and embeddedness
    • Strong, dense, networks
    • Reciprocal, repeated exchanges that encourage cooperation
  • Structural holes
    • Connecting two groups
    • Power to control information, gain new information
  • When might one or the other be beneficial?

Strength of weak ties

  • One of the most cited social science papers ever (> 55K citations!)
  • Initial question:
    • How do people find jobs?
  • Survey showed that people found jobs through acquaintances rather than friends

Strength of weak ties

  • What are the “weak ties” that Granovetter refers to?
  • Why is information more likely to come through weak ties?
    • Strong ties have redundant information
    • They are already tied to each other
    • Weak ties are more likely to access new parts of the network

Different relationships have different benefits

  • Some types of social capital (cooperation, support, etc.) are best served through dense cliques
  • Others (innovation, information search, etc.) require connecting distant groups (bridges and weak ties)

Societal level social capital

  • Putnam argues for the idea of generalized social capital
  • Do people trust each other?
  • Societies with trust are more successful.
    • Trust is a public good
    • Time, energy, and money can be spent on better things