Perspectives On Capital: Financial, Physical, Human And Social

In this assignment, I will be writing about the topic capitalism and the types and the characteristics of them. The definition of capitalism is a system that is related to economics. These systems are controlled by ownerships that are private for profits. There are many characteristics related to capitalism. The theory I will be explaining is the Bourdieu’s theories of cultural and social capital.

Characteristics of financial capitalism

The first characteristics I will be writing about is profit motives. There is a risk for people’s wealth if they are a part of a business. It is simple. They are awarded if the business venture goes well, however if it goes negatively, there is a risk where all of the person’s investment can be lost. The definition of profit is excess amount of money made by the business or organisation than the amount of money they had at the beginning. A profit motive is for a person’s wealth to be increased by encouragement. The growth of the business is mostly improved and increased because of the profit motive. 1

Another characteristic of the capitalism is voluntary exchange. The process of voluntary exchange is making transactions related to the market which are done by people who buy and sell. Both the buyer and seller are benefitted from the voluntary exchange. However, things are not able to exchange freely in a common economy. The reason for this is because of the amount of markets as there are only a few markets available. The market economy is much more efficient that the socialist economy. As a consequence, many products are not able to be exchanged. 1

Economic freedom is another characteristic of capitalism. The definition of this term, economic freedom is basically having the ability of buying any thing you want. So, you get to choose what job you want, which career you would like to pursue and choose your own employer with freedom. This really benefits a lot of businesses as the workers for the businesses are chosen freely by them. Additionally, the products which are most profitable for the business, can be chosen by them for free. The business is able to choose the quantity of the products and have the ability to sell them at any time and the price of the product is their choice. 1

Bourdieu’s theory of Social Capital

There are some people that want to help each other because it helps them maintain their relationships and develop them. This is social capital. A sociologist called Pierre Bourdieu was French and born from 1930 and died from the year of 2002. The dynamics of power in society was one of the things he was really concerned about during his life. His powerful work of sociology for culture was highly praised by a lot of people as well as the theory of the social stratification he had come up with. This theory helped deal with power and status. The transformation of the nature of culture was something that Bourdieu was worried about and how it was reproduced. 2

The way Bourdieu saw social capital is an individual property rather than a group. A group or individual that takes care of the resources can allow another person to use their power on them and social capital allows them to do that. According to Bourdieu, for individuals in groups, if they are making an effort on getting social capital by getting the positions of power and having the right attitude, it will be available for them. The different types of capitals are social, cultural, economic and symbolic. The relationship between all of these was one of his important contributions. In 1986, Pierre Bourdieu had a process of social capital and he believed that economic is also part of it and exchanges that are social are not always done by people who have self interest. Bourdieu’s theories are about social reproduction and symbolic power. Pierre Bourdieu relates his work to constraints that are structural and unfair access to things like the race of a person, gender and the class of a person. According to Bourdieu, social capital are forms of stratification and related to class which are related to lots of benefits or development. Social capital is framed by Bourdieu as an individual requiring resources that is virtual. The established relationship that the individual has is mutual recognition. This means social capital belongs to an individual due to the investment he or her made. There are no property attributes that are collective included in the social capital. This is called cultural capital by Bourdieu instead. The social networks we are included in and the status of the network that is given to us, is what the social capital is referring to. An example is that someone related to you like your father is the owner of a business and in the future, he would like you to take over his position. The best summary of social capital is “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”2

There are many characteristics of social capital. The first characteristic is how social capital can make you be a leader. This is done when advice is offered by you to other people. This means you gain a lot of trust from people and improve your reputation as a leader because you are supporting them and providing them with help. There are many ways to build your trust in a network. Some of them are always being honest with your team and sharing other people’s work in the network, showing them support by advising them and being able to bring them people who can give them help and getting involved with the debates in the network and conversations around it. The second characteristic that I will be writing about is about teams. Teams can be stronger with social capital as the relationships between each other can be built on honesty and mutual benefits in the business or network. This means that all of the people in the network will have each other’s back when needed. An example is when internships are provided to students that have recently graduated from university and are local. This allows the university to send students that have high qualities for the positions in the business. As a consequence, both university and business benefit from this. Another characteristic is having people in your network or business that are wise and have connections with other networks. There may be a topic where you know nothing about, so you contact the other people with greater knowledge on this topic and they help you out. 3

Bourdieu’s theory of Cultural Capital

Around 1970, Pierre Bourdieu created ideas for cultural capital. This helps explain how in the society, social classes were maintained and how power was transferred. Cultural capital was a really important role as he believed that you become more powerful if you have more capital. There were three types of cultural capital discovered by Bourdieu. They were objectives, embodied and institutionalised. Embodied cultural capital is when a person practises the cultural attitudes and follow it. Therefore, more knowledge is learnt by people with the help of socialisation and education such as knowing things about music. The way the embodied state is shown is through interactions between each other. You can see how their behaviour is and how their manners are. Institutionalised cultural capital is when you are recognised by an institution or company. People are mostly recognised because of their achievements or qualification. Consequently, that helps that person a role in a company or institution. And objectified cultural capital is when you use objects and they have something to do with culture for examples books. Also, the material objects may be used for many things for example jobs, furniture and education. 4

There are many things that cultural capital refers to such as, education, social skills and habits. Education is one of them because it helps people learn skills that are social and linguistics. The reproduction of class value is also enabled by education as class is being maintained by the society. For an individual, cultural capital is really important as it is embodied with them. This is known as habitus by Bourdieu. Habitus is described by Bourdieu as dispositions that help our behaviour and part of our personalities and history.4


To conclude, social capital is more about relationships and social networks. It helps people maintain and develop relationships and encourages people to help. Bourdieu’s theory help develop the social and cultural capital. He worked on different capitals such as economic, social, cultural and symbolic. He helped us realise that economic capital was used to help someone get the symbolic capital which our body would like to have. He also helped us realise that our eating habits shows our symbolic capital as well. The habits have our cultural capital and habitus embodied with us as well. To make the world fairer, Bourdieu used the language of sciences in his theories.    

07 July 2022
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