Journal of Cultural Economics

, Volume 23, Issue 1–2, pp 3–12 | Cite as

Cultural Capital

  • David Throsby


Economists traditionally distinguish between three forms of capital: physical capital, human capital and natural capital. This paper proposes a fourth type of capital, cultural capital. An item of cultural capital is defined as an asset embodying cultural value. The paper considers usage of the term “cultural capital” in other discourses, notably sociology after Bourdieu, and contrasts these with the proposed usage in economics. The relationship between cultural and economic value, upon which the economic concept of cultural capital relies, is explored, and the possible implications of cultural capital for economic analysis discussed, including issues of growth, sustainability and investment appraisal. The paper concludes with some suggestions for further theoretical and empirical research.

cultural capital cultural economics economic growth natural capital sustainability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Becker, Gary S. (1994) Human Capital. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Becker, Gary S. (1996) Accounting for Tastes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  3. Berkes, Fikret and Folke, Carl (1992) “A Systems Perspective on the Interrelations Between Natural, Human-Made and Cultural Capital”. Ecological Economics 5: 1–8.Google Scholar
  4. Borocz, Jozsef and Southworth, Caleb (1996) “Decomposing the Intellectuals' Class Power: Conversion of Cultural Capital to Income, Hungary, 1986”. Social Forces 74: 797–821.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, Pierre (1986) “Forms of Capital”, in John G. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Greenwood, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Casson, Mark (1993) “Cultural Determinants of Economic Performance”. Journal of Comparative Economics 17: 418–442.Google Scholar
  7. Chiswick, Barry R. (1983) “The Earnings and Human Capital of American Jews”. Journal of Human Resources 18: 313–336.Google Scholar
  8. Coleman, James S. (1986) “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital”. American Journal of Sociology 94 (Supplement): S95–S120.Google Scholar
  9. Costanza, Robert (ed.) (1991) Ecological Economics: The Science and Management of Sustainability. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Costanza, Robert et al. (1991) “Goals, Agenda, and Policy Recommendations for Ecological Economics”, in Constanza (1991).Google Scholar
  11. Costanza, Robert and Daly, Herman E. (1992) “Natural Capital and Sustainable Development”. Conservation Biology 6: 37–46. Reprinted in Robert Costanza (ed.) (1997) Frontiers in Ecological Economics. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.Google Scholar
  12. El Serafy, Salah (1991) “The Environment as Capital”, in Costanza (1991).Google Scholar
  13. Gray, H. Peter (1996) “Culture and Economic Performance: Policy as an Intervening Variable”. Journal of Comparative Economics 23: 278–291.Google Scholar
  14. Hicks, John (1974) “Capital Controversies: Ancient and Modern”. American Economic Review 64: 301–316.Google Scholar
  15. Inglehart, Ronald (1990) Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society. Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
  16. Jansson, Ann Mari et al. (eds) (1994) Investing in Natural Capital: The Ecological Economics Approach to Sustainability. Island Press, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  17. Klamer, Arjo (ed.) (1996) The Value of Culture: On the Relationship Between Economics and the Arts. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  18. Mahar, Cheleen et al. (1990) “The Basic Theoretical Position”, in Richard Harker et al. (eds), An Introduction to the Work of Pierre Bourdieu: The Practice of Theory. Macmillan, London.Google Scholar
  19. National Research Council (1994) Assigning Economic Value to Natural Resources. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  20. Robbins, Derek (1991) The Work of Pierre Bourdieu: Recognizing Society. Open University Press, Milton Keynes.Google Scholar
  21. Solow, Robert (1994) “An Almost Practical Step Towards Sustainability”, in National Research Council (1994).Google Scholar
  22. Throsby, David (1995) “Culture, Economics and Sustainability”. Journal of Cultural Economics 19: 199–206.Google Scholar
  23. Throsby, David (1997) “Sustainability and Culture: Some Theoretical Issues”. International Journal of Cultural Policy 4: 7–20.Google Scholar
  24. UNESCO (1998) World Culture Report. UNESCO, Paris.Google Scholar
  25. Veblen, Thorstein (1973) The Theory of the Leisure Class. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.Google Scholar
  26. Woodbury, Stephen A. (1993) “Culture and Human Capital: Theory and Evidence or Theory versus Evidence”, in William Darity Jr. (ed.), Labour Economics: Problems in Analyzing Labor Markets. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, pp. 239–267.Google Scholar
  27. World Commission on Culture and Development (1995) Our Creative Diversity. UNESCO, Paris.Google Scholar
  28. Zweigenhaft, Richard, L. (1993) “Prep School and Public School Graduates of Harvard: A Longitudinal Study of the Accumulation of Social and Cultural Capital”. Journal of Higher Education 64: 211–225.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Throsby
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations