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The Cultural Capital Defined Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 3271 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The chapter provides a theoretical understanding of cultural capital from the perspective of cultural capital from the perspective of sports consumption. Scholarly journals are reviewed to give readers an understanding of the contribution of cultural capital made in the area of sports. The chapter commences with broad issues concerning the topic and narrowed to focus on the study in Ghana.

2.1 Cultural capital defined

Cultural capital surfaced in academic work approximately 25 years ago in the work of Bourdieu and Gouldner, and after that references were made in other fields as evolutionary biology (Cohen, cited in Ahbeysekera et. Al, 2004) a literary criticism (Guillory, 1993).

Bourdieu from one angle sees capital as power, in this case the power stems from a communal or structural point which accumulates power for a person to gain an economic advantage in the short or long term (Bourdieu, 1990). From another angle and with reference to linguistic and cultural capital, Bourdieu advances a case that parent of the middle class use cultural capital to propagate and advance their economic fortunes (Bourdieu, 1984).

Several studies have attributed cultural capital as being embedded in family background and education and have made connections between value based power and having various types of cultural capital (Gayo-Cal, Savage, and Warde, 2006; Warde, 2006; Warde, Martens, and Olsen. 1999).

Bourdieu 1997 identifies the three form of cultural capital as Embodied, Objectified and Institutional cultural capital. Embodied cultural capital is explained as the permanent nature of the mind and body (Bourdieu, 1997). Objectified cultural capital is better explained through its operation. Examples are the interpretation of say, paintings or the ability to play instruments. As Bourdieu point s out one can fully appreciate objectified cultural capital except they can afford its consumption (Bourdieu, 1997; Silva, 2006). This explanation in a way demonstrates how objectified cultural capital is learnt or passed on over time, according to Sullivan, 2001 families with well-resourced cultural capital pass on through a mechanism of hands on tutoring through their free time by attending art exhibitions, theaters, highlighting form the need for education and mannerism. Institutional cultural capital according to Bourdieu is the official and systemized recognition accorded both embodied and objectified forms of cultural capital. Through this system the tangible value of the capital is scaled and its extrinsic value made legitimate (Bourdieu, 1997). According to Bourdieu 1984 education through formal means is one of the key sources of cultural capital as teaches learners the intangible values associated with cultural knowledge. The nature of institutional cultural capital in supporting symbolic value shapes and improves society. This form of cultural capital and the social structure it provides makes for a personally advantaged position (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992).

In looking at the relationship between cultural capital and social status and also showing the essence of rare highbrow cultural capital to social status, a study conducted indicated that high class socio-economic groups had access and could to relate to an array of cultural capital forms compared to the lower groups (Peterson and Kern, 1996).

2.2 Capital and symbolic power

According to Bourdieu 1990 power is imagined as symbolic power created through discretionary values associated with various types of economic, social and cultural capital that people own. One of the crucial points that have come out strongly is the link of cultural capital to symbolic power and how this creates distinction; allowing higher social status in society through symbolic capital. According to Bourdieu 1997 symbolic capital creates benefits through tangible properties, such as material acquisitions, which further puts those who own it at an advantage. This claim for higher power is emphasized and legitimized through symbolic capital (Swartz, 1997). As symbolic systems are established within society these structures shape and inform our habitus and consequently create permanent characters learnt over a period that inform the way people think of the social environment and the way people function in it (Bourdieu, 1990; Swartz, 1997; Edwards, 2009).

2.3 Cultural Consumption of Sports

Sporting preferences are made on social and cultural reproduction and class lines along the same directions as the preference for music and the arts (Bourdieu 1978; 1984). He mentioned that various sports are pecked differently in the social and cultural hierarchy. Wilson 2002 states that according to Bourdieu (1978; 1984) each sport requires the suitable taste and preference and a peculiar sets of skills and knowledge to partake which he calls cultural capital.

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Separation among people is created through taste consumption and acts a means of social distinction among people. A group through its taste and preferences can align or disassociate itself from society and can be used to create some status for the niche separating it from the mass appeal taste of the rest of the group. Holt (1998) argues that the things that are valued in domains as the arts and theater attendance are mystified in rituals of taste and consumption. In the quest to improve one’s standing in society and better the life’s of their descendants there’s is a perpetual pursuit of improving one’s social standing in a progressive manner so as to restore the stratified position. DiMaggio and Useem 1978 summed this up by saying accumulated cultural capital improves opportunities in life by turning this capital advantage into social and economic progress in future. The hierarchies within society are crucial in understanding the kind of people that attend high cultural activities (DiMaggio and Useem, 1978; Matty, 2004; Tampubolon, 2007).

It has been identified in a couple of research studies that sport is less developed when compared to other consumption fields. Indeed, it was noted by Warde 2006 that Bourdieu acknowledges the essence of sports and body maintenance in the storage and exhibition of cultural capital. Bourdieu also noted that one’s sporting appeal is complimentary to their lifestyle and serves as a distinction from others (Warde, 2006). In his study- cultural capital and the place of sports, Warde 2006 revealed that the high class society had taste for rare sports, not only that but Wilson 2002 in his study- paradox of social class and sports involvement, reinforces Bourdieu’s framework that those with highly accumulated wealth tend to participate in sports largely but also more inclined to dissociate themselves from circular sports.

The type of sports chosen by people to participate in cannot entirely be dependent on the cultural resource factors, as noted by Warde 2006 in his English study, gender, age, ethnicity contributed to the pattern of sports participation. Also, there have been overwhelming support provided in literature that beyond cultural capital one’s socio-economic position, education, gender influenced their choice of sporting activity (Sturgis and Jackson, 2003; Gayo-Cal, 2006).

2.4 Patterns of Cultural Capital

A survey (2003-2004) conducted by the centre for research into socio-economic change (CRESC) UK to examine nature of cultural capital in the UK and the degree to which cultural capital can aggregate or disaggregate social groups. The survey used 1564 respondents and the results revealed a clear distinction taste, cognition and participation in across gender, education and class across cultural fields among others music, visual arts, dining out (Gayo-Cal et al., 2006; Gayo-Cal, Warde, and Tampubolon, 2005). The groups that had higher education and those within higher social class were highly involved in cultural activity than their lower level counterparts respectively in the area of education and social class. There were indication from the preliminary results that education and the hierarchy of occupation was passed onto generations such that parents with high education ensure that their children get equal or if not better opportunities to ensure better opportunities and rewarding jobs (Gayo-Cal et al., 2006).

Along work lines, Bennett et al. 2011 established that employers, managers and professionals are well informed on cultural artifacts in its widest form by lower class with a higher degree of cultural education whether formal or informal. This point was reinforced by Erickson 1996 that managers tend to be more informed on relatively more cultural domains due to their professional function to interact with more people. There is suggestion that occupations embrace professionals with compatible cultural capital merit as the professional are able to appreciate and comprehend occupation standards (Sommerland, 2007) and the amount of cultural capital held can be important (Peterson and Kern, 1996).

2.5 Cultural Capital and Sports

It is often usual to see some kind of sports activity in societies irrespective of the part of the world and this can be attributed to wanting to associate with a group. According to Etizen and Sage 2003 sports is counted as part of the few human activities that can bond a community in any part of the world. Weiss 2001 concedes that few people participate in sports for wellbeing but for the majority it is as a result of the quest to align and identify with others and also reinforce their personalities. Consequently sports can be engaged so as to establish one’s cultural identity (Stodolska and Alexandris, 2004).

Contrary to the above sports can be used as a catalyst for exclusion and propagate selectivity among groups and people. Culturally popular sports are recognized and given more attention giving them more social capital and power (Light and Kirk 2001). For instance social groups including families reproduce social advantages through private school attendance which is recognized for its exclusivity (Light and Kirk, 2001).

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The absence of partaking in any sports activity is tantamount to societal isolation and this result in anti-social tendencies that pave the way on cutting one’s chances of socialization, education and professional ascension (Majumdar, 2003). Cricket in India is a good example of such marked exclusion. Corporate sponsors have branded the game as elitist and the sole preserve of the educated and affluent sine post-independence (Majumdar, 2003). Corporate Institutions have clear policies for player recruitment and they attach a great deal of importance to education; this also is a criteria in terms of their reward system as the level of one’s education affects how much salary one receives. There is monopoly through high fees from cricket clubs preventing the less privileged to have access to the sports (Majumbar, 2003). It is paramount to appreciate what leads to the association of particular groups of people with certain sports activities and its function in the reproduction of socio-economic differences in a society (Washington and Karen, 2001). Ii is the duty of incumbent spots managers to ascertain the relationship between sports participation and socio-cultural capital in order to phantom how to equalize this inequality and give the less privileged adequate representation if desired.

Globalization has marginalized traditional cultures and ethnic social systems and promoting identical societies (Hochschild, 2006). Despite this global approach of uniformity and the expression of western views sports can also promote the minority groups by playing a role in maintaining foreign identities and keeping dominant national ties (Giossos, 2008; Lee, 2006). International sporting activities like the Olympics, Commonwealth games and FIFA worldcup are avenues for fans and participants to establish and exhibit their cultural affiliation (Yoh, Yang and Gordon, 2008).

2.6 Sports fans and consumption

A fan is passionate and committed of a particular sports consumptive object (Hunt, Bristol and Bashaw, 1999). In this regard a fan is a consumer of an organize sport. The term committed shows the level of attachment fans associate with the sports. Fans are also driven to act for the sport. A sport consumption object can be the sport, team or even the organized leaque or personalities like players, coaches/ managers, commentators who are strongly associated with a sport. Several fans exist as they differ in their behavior and motivation (Hunt, Bristol and Bashaw, 1999). Current concepts have focused on team performance as the main driver of fan behavior (Cialdidni et al., 1976; Grove et al., 1991; Mann, 1974; Wann and Dolan, 1994).

Our appreciation sports fan is limited and fan motivation and its consequent behavior extend teams and certain situations have no connection to team performance (Fisher and Wakefield, 1998). In addition, most studies have concentrated on ticket sales and game attendance as the ultimate goal in the exchange between sports marketers and fans. Beyond this, sports marketing involve corporate sponsorship, sports prafenelia, sovenirs, stadia branding, sports publications and others (Bandyopadhyaya and Bottone, 1997). Thus the need to shift research study into other areas to fill the gaps identified in fan behavior and consumption.

2.7 Sports consumption- fandom and cults in sports

Fan is the short version of fanatic and entreats religion in sporting contest and competitions (Borland and Macdonald, 2003). Fandom is part of the system of sports instituted so that people can be part of the game without partaking (Branscombe et al., 1991). The concept inspires social advantages as togetherness, belongingness and fraternity but also self-esteem (Zillman et al., 1993). Fans get ecstatic by the mere fact that they are fans (Kimble and Cooper, 1992). This passion and energy which is transformed into the mood of the fans is determined by the sport they are supporting and the outcome of a game lingers onto other unrelated activities immediately after (Hirt et al., 1992). He also defines fandom as an association to a sport/ team with great deal of emotional importance and treasure from this membership (Hirt et al., 1992).

A follower of sport does not translate to mean they are fans (Funk and James, 2001). Further distinction is provided on what constitutes a follower and a fan of sports, followers witness a game without much attachment but fans are passionate in supports and transcends beyond watching a game, they are committed on a daily basis (Jones, 1997). Several distinctions have been made between who a follower of a sport is compared to a fan and this borders on the degree of emotional attachment and level of commitment offered by the supporter (Anderson, 1979; Hunt et al., 1999; Stewart and Smith, 1997; Tapp and Clowes, 2002; Pimentel and Reynolds, 2004). According to Wann and Pierce (2003) the accuracy of measurement of the level of identification/commitment is essential to sports psychologists and marketers due to the fact that the degrees of response of sports fans are usually a function of their commitment and level of association with the sport.

Sports consumption creates fandom as seen above and this has the tendencies of creating cults in sports. As witnessed earlier in the section being a part of like-minded people is rewarding and one of the key ingredients of cult and cult brands is that they maintain the distinction that keeps their members together (Atkins, 2004) and therefore alienate others by this same argument. On the surface it may seem that cult is non-existent in the domain of sports as this is usually associated to religion. It has been argued that sports is competitive, versatile and a personal activity contrary to religion which is grounded on a communal system and is non-competitive in nature (Prebish, 1993).

A sport is likened to religion and because it is rooted in a natural cause (Novak, 1995). Further, Brody (1979) that the joint nature of supporters of organized sports is partly religious in nature. The important point is how groupings are created and the resulting in exclusion of others. According to Percy and Taylor (1991) followers of teams maintain rituals of essential symbolic artifacts as apparels, food and type of allies they choose which are sacred in the ritual of sports.

2.8 Sports Affiliation

Membership of a group is driven by the aspiration to keep a distinction from other social groups (Madrigal, 2002). An aspect of membership identification and affiliation is the act of rites such as gathering souvenirs, match attendance and considering the sport as part of one’s identity. There is strength and a sense of identity in associating with a group. There is difficulty in creating self-images in the absence of group association (Tajfel, 1982). Closer ties with a group allow individuals to borrow the positive traits of a group for oneself and take on more commonality with others within the group (Fisher and Wakefield, 1998; Tajfel and Turner, 1986).

Cultural capital is gained by sports fans through the adoption of labels (Richardson, 2004) from the group- the appreciation of how to consume in the socially sanctioned manner.

2.9 History of Ghana Sports

The subject of cultural capital and Ghana sports can be located in the country’s sporting history and particularly football and the love the people of Ghana have for the game. Ghana has a rich football heritage with a great deal of chronicled successes, includes memorable milestones as producing Arthur Wharton, the first black professional footballer in the English game (Ghanaian Times. 2011: 29); Ghana won the African Cup of Nations football tournament four times. Football clubs like Accra Hearts of Oak have chalked over 100 years with enviable local and continental record: Hearts won the first ever football league in Ghana, an unprecedented six consecutive occasions, an unbeaten season and three continental- Confederations of Africa (CAF) trophies (Daily Graphic, 2012:31). Football is a competitive sport in Ghana attracting huge following and its nature of consumption is diverse. Football has produced fan groups along ethnic and regional lines in the country and families have a generation of loyalty to particular clubs. Above all, sports in Ghana tend to follow Bourdieu’s idea of distinction in consumption by virtue of one’s cultural capital and appreciation of a sport. Golf, has only received some attention in the country in recent years due to the enormous attraction it receives from corporate institutions. Golf is second to football as far as private sector sponsorship funds is concerned (Anonymous, 2007).

The overarching institution in charge of sports in the country is the National sports and came to effect through a presidential declaration. The National sports council is in place to improve, promulgate, and manage sports in the country with aim of fostering nationalism and professionalism that drives consistent wealth creation and infrastructural improvement (Anonymous, 2007). It is interesting to note that a similar institution the Gold Coast Amateur Sports Council existent in the Gold Coast, then Ghana established under the enactment of Ordinance 14, 1952 (www.sportscouncil.com.gh).


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