Importance of Cultural Capital in Indian Society

What is Cultural Capital

  • Cultural capital is a form of power beyond the economic form, and is exercised through different non-economic goods and services such as information, articulation, education, and aesthetics.
  • It helps to understand the existence of power and domination within society, through cultural stratification, and to argue that success can be better explained by the inheritance of cultural capital from the family, rather than through individual talent.

Social Mobility in India

  • Understanding social mobility in the Indian context is a challenge, since the social structure in India has evolved with features of both caste and class within its fold.
  • The class-like characteristics found in the caste system and vice versa, make the phenomenon more complex.
  • There is lack of cultural capital, in all its forms, in the cases of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), as well as rural residents, restricts their upward intergenerational social mobility, and instead paves the way for downward social mobility in the competitive market situation
  • Abundant cultural capital comes from within the family, if an individual belongs to a relatively higher caste, upper class, urban residence, where members possess better educational backgrounds.
  • Thus, access to adequate cultural capital enables the reproduction of intergenerational social mobility. On the other hand, individuals with a lower caste and/or class status, rural upbringing, poor educational background, and experiencing relative poverty, have to struggle at every step in their search for better career prospects in order to achieve upward social mobility.
  • Individuals possessing greater cultural capital also get immediate access to inspirational membership reference groups since they can access role models within the family, neighbourhood and peer groups who help shape their career aspirations right from childhood.
  • On the other hand, those individuals without any or with very little access to any kind of cultural capital depend upon the non-membership reference groups for inspiration and motivation while identifying role models, and undergo the painful process of anticipatory socialisation.

Question for Answer Writing

Q:What do you understand by cultural capital? Discuss its importance in society such as India.

Reference: EPW

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