Family, Schooling, and Cultural Capital

  • George FarkasEmail author
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


School-related cultural capital refers to the skills, habits, identities, worldviews, preferences or values that students enact in schools and that affect their school success. This chapter describes how Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital explains social reproduction—the fact that, as adults, children tend to replicate the social class status of their parents. This is largely because academic performance and school success are strongly and positively correlated with parental social class. I examine social class differences in parenting and how these affect the habitus, or underlying skills and dispositions toward schooling of children from different social classes. These differential skills and dispositions in turn give rise to differential academic skills, work habits, and related school behaviors which are judged by teachers when they assign course grades on the report cards of students. As students move up through the levels of schooling, social class differences in course grades lead to social class differences in curriculum selection and high school graduation. Then, high school grades, teacher’s recommendations, and standardized test scores affect postsecondary enrollment and degree attainment. These in turn lead to differences in occupational employment and earnings favoring children from higher social class backgrounds.


Pierre Bourdieu Cultural capital Habitus Social reproduction Academic skills Academic work habits Course grades Educational attainment 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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