Relles_2_paper

Relles_2_paper - Running Head: MY NAME IS CURRENCY:...

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Running Head: “MY NAME IS CURRENCY:” BOURDIEU’S SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CAPITAL AS EVIDENCED IN THE SOCIAL NETWORK OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS “My Name is Currency:” Bourdieu’s social and cultural capital as evidenced in the social network of Alcoholics Anonymous Stefani Relles Rossier School of Education University of Southern California
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“MY NAME IS CURRENCY” 2 . I. Introduction to Social and Cultural Capital “Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.” - Mahatma Gandhi In the last quarter century, social scientists have expanded the notion of capital from a purely economic context to a larger sphere which identifies productive resources in social, cultural and human forms (Stanton-Salazar, 1997). Consequently, within the arena of education research, social and cultural capital has become, for lack of a better description, the theoretical ‘it-kid,’ having “captured the attention of educational researchers and policymakers aiming to improve America’s schools” (Dika & Singh, 2002, p. 31). The intellectual excitement surrounding the concepts of social and cultural capital is well-merited. Suddenly, the world of education research has new terms to describe very real forms of non- financial currency that factor significantly into student achievement, outcomes and aspirations. Exactly what the terms mean and how they might be applied in solving education problems is the matter of meticulous scholarly debate, generally characterized by two The two preeminent theorists in this new frontier of social and cultural capital are French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, and American sociologist, James Coleman, both of whom debuted their theories in the late 1980s (Dika & Singh, 2002). While this paper focuses on Bourdieu, I periodically refer to Coleman as a theory foil in order to bring Bourdieu’s epistemological views into sharper relief. Ultimately, Bourdieu provides a durable framework for understanding basic social and cultural capital concepts and for determining exactly what is at play in the context of access to higher education. To illustrate Bourdieu’s more complex concepts, I use the social network known as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in order to ground Bourdieu’s salient terms in a consistent real world example. II. The World According to Bourdieu
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“MY NAME IS CURRENCY” 3 . Social Networks Simply put, social capital resides within a collection of human connections. The notion that individuals function within social networks, like fish swimming within a school, is central. That said, social capital theory contests the assumption that “society consists of a set of independent individuals” (Coleman, 1990, p. 300). Social capitalists generally believe that individuals, in fact, “do not act independently, goals are not independently arrived at, and interests are not wholly selfish” (Coleman, 1990, p. 300). Rather, the social network is “the
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This note was uploaded on 12/18/2009 for the course EDUC 640 taught by Professor Tierney during the Fall '09 term at USC.

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Relles_2_paper - Running Head: MY NAME IS CURRENCY:...

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