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RE: [xmca] Gratier, Greenfield, & Isaac

Hi Yuan,
Here is what I am thinking about the three (four) forms of capital right now from my current reading of Bourdieu.  I think schools are of the most important forums of cultural capital, if not the most important for middle and upper classes (not so much for working class or those in poverty).  I think Bourdieu makes that clear in his analysis of the role French schools play in the maintenance of the middle class.  The value of cultural capital I think is in its ability to establish symbolic capital.  That is the ability to define objects, things, artefacts as symbols that deserve a certain level of respect simply because they are symbols.  This is what I was trying to get at with the New York Times story, it is a symbol.  Carrying it around, with a certain bodily relationship, is a symbol that you are part of a certain group of people (again, I would say corporatist, intellectual, solidly middle class, critical thinker).  If a member of that same community sees you not only with the Times but carrying it in a certain way they use that symbol as part of the reason to make a quick judgment and are more likely to treat that person as a member of their community.  Whether or not the person actually reads the newspaper and engages with the articles is actually far less important in terms of being accepted as a member of the community, of attaining instant social capital.  As a matter of fact I would hazard to guess that most people on meeting a fellow carrying a Times would NOT ask them about an article in it as a way of creating enhanced social capital.  Or think about dress, a form of cultural capital mentioned by Bourdieu a number of times.  Let us say you are interviewing somebody for a job.  Who are you going to be more impressed by, somebody in a well cut suit with an expensive tie, or somebody in jeans and with a shirt tail hanging out.  Why do people so often dress in suits at conferences?  A number of teachers wear ties and jackets when they teach - when I ask my graduate students why they make this choice they say it is because they feel it gives them more respect from the students and in essence allows them to establish greater social capital.  In the upper echelon of the corporate world it is not only wearing a suit but how you "carry yourself."  Your posture and your sense of entitlement.  This is what is important.  Many of the individuals on Wall Street don't have the slightest idea what they are doing, but they have a high amount of cultural capital which allows them to be recognized as important members of the community.  One of my favorite criticisms of bloggers is that they are probably writing in their pajamas.  Who the hell cares what somebody is wearing when they are writing.  Has that ever been mentioned in a literature class?  Mark Twain wrote in his pajamas.  Hemmingway wrote in just a pair of shorts (sans underwear).  Faulkner wrote in a burboun soaked shirt in his tool shed.  And yet today saying a blogger writes in his pajamas is considered the most cutting thing you can say (by the way I don't have pajamas, but sometimes I write au' naturel).  A person dress in the right clothes, carrying the right newspaper, smiling and grimacing at the right times, aware of subtle signals and what is allowed and not allowed in different types of conversations with different types of people are afforded a high level of symbolic capital - the right type of person, a person who belongs to the group.  If there is an advantage to be had it should go to this person.  It is also a chance to engage in what Bourdieu refers to as symbolic violence - if a person is not dress quite the right way, doesn't say the right thing at the right time, is a little bit too loud, you don't know why, but they are "a little off", and "not quite our type of person."  
Cultural capital though is exclusive.  It helps to determine class and life trajectory.  It therefore require economic capital.  Parents have to be able to send their children to the right schools - and to do that they need a high level of social capital from communities where you can earn the types of economic capital where you can afford the time and expense of learning social capital.  It is how the middle and upper classes protect themselves, protect their perquisites.  The cultural capital, the type that really counts, the type that establishes the types of immediate social capital that bring advantage, can be given away so easily then.  Really, what type of cultural capital do you get simply by being more comfortable with print if you don't know the right books, knowing more words if you don't understand the subtleties on how to use them.  You don't learn the truly exclusive cultural capital overtly, but by being part of a community, and coming to understand what is acceptable and what is not acceptable within that community through your everday activities.  It is not what schools teach you overtly that is important.  According to Bourdieu you parents do not spend high levels of economic capital to learn specific things in the curriculum, but to learn how to conduct themselves so they will easily be recognized as members of the community.
Sorry for the long message.


From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of yuan lai
Sent: Sun 12/6/2009 11:00 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Gratier, Greenfield, & Isaac

Hi Michael, in referring to the example of the preschoolers in the literacy
program, I had in mind that school (schools that I know or read about)
values and cultivates practices and knowledge of particular social groups
(e.g., homes that stock books and reading and being read are everyday
experiences versus homes that telling and listening to stories are common
occurrences). In this light, do you think that we may think of school as
doing the work of teaching cultural capital explicitly? You wrote that you
don't believe cultural capital could be overtly taught but you also wrote,
"We were being taught cultural capital)". Could you clarify?

With the newspaper example, I'm thinking that if the teachers (in schools as
you were growing up) had, instead of merely bringing in NYT as a way to
promote, but taken time to share news items with students (e.g., "Hey, you
know what" or "Now that is interesting") and engaged them in discussion
briefly or more extensively as current events and special coverage can be
integrated into school curricula, for example, would that have made a
difference? Not that I think that certain cultural capital is more important
than others. I actually look forward to the day when cultural capital of the
social groups in the community school serves, not just certain groups, is

On Sat, Dec 5, 2009 at 1:21 PM, Michael Glassman <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu>wrote:

> Hi Yuan,
> I'm not sure the degree to which print is actually cultural capital.  If it
> is cultural capital I would wonder how say the middle class uses it as a
> symbol of belonging to the middle class, a way in which to promote the
> exclusiveness of a social group.  I would think that print is too
> uncontrollable, too broad, and too generalized to serve as an important form
> of cultural capital.  Now I would agree that certain types of print serve as
> a form of cultural capital.  When I was growing up in New York the type of
> newspaper you carried was very much a symbol of class inclusion.  If you
> carried the New York Times it was a symbol of belonging to the middle class,
> corporatist world, and it was assumed you have a certain intellectual cache.
>  If you were carrying the Daily News this signaled a much more blue collar,
> lunch bucket type of belonging and you could trust this person as a "regular
> guy."  If you carried the New York Post (this was pre-Murdoch when the Post
> was a great paper), you were middle class but did not want to be labeled as
> either corporatist or as overly intellectual.  You did well, maybe white
> collar, but you could also belong in a neighborhood bar watching a big
> ballgame.  It was amazing the degree to which the newspaper you carried
> signaled your membership in the group.
> What is interesting is that this was never really overtly stated.
>  Again,when I was growing up there were a number of teachers in middle or
> upper middle class schools which really promoted the New York Times.  You
> would walk around the hallways and see individuals carrying it, there were
> special deals.  But almost nobody I knew actually read the paper to any
> great degree.  Maybe if they had some extra time.  The idea though that it
> was a symbol though never crossed our mind.  We were being taught cultural
> capital).  A half a decade later I was teaching as a New York City high
> school that was anything but middle class.  No students carried around the
> New York Times.  As a matter of fact they didn't carry around any papers.
>  In the teachers room you could only find the Daily News or the New York
> Post.  Sometimes I would carry in the Times but after a while I stopped for
> some reason and switched to the Post (which I actually enjoyed more).
>  Again, I don't believe any of this could have been overtly taught.  I mean
> you might read in a 70s self help book how important it was that you carry
> the New York times because of the "aura" that might give you or something,
> but it wouldn't be the same I think.  You wouldn't carry it in the right
> way, you would be too self conscious about it, and you would probably give
> it up fairly soon.
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of yuan lai
> Sent: Thu 12/3/2009 6:00 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Gratier, Greenfield, & Isaac
> Michael, I believe there are ways that mirror the "natural way" to teach
> cultural capital overtly. I've seen 3- and 4-year-olds from families of
> refugee status quickly appropriated the value placed on print, showing
> interest in print, wanting to write their names, feeling proud of their own
> attempts, not long after establishing a relationship with the preschool
> teacher in various activities in a family literacy program, which embeds
> print in almost all its classroom activities. For example, the teacher read
> to the children while they were eating, pointed out print and signs in the
> environment for them as they went out for recess, and wrote notes in front
> of them to request materials needed for the classroom. The transformation
> of
> the children's attention, interest, and desire is amazing given that the
> children hardly understood English when they entered the program and their
> parents seldom read to them or pointed out print around due to low reading
> and writing ability in English and in their first language. I've since been
> convinced of the importance of setting up a learning environment that has
> an
> emphasis on relationship building.
> Jay, until you revealed it, I didn't see it. I reread the section leading
> to
> the hypotheses section and found that there is some reference to praise,
> but
> not at all to criticism.
> It appears that the same two classrooms (BC and non-BC) have been studied
> from different angles and the findings seem to be consistent with Gratier
> et
> al.'s framework. This article certainly extends their work. Terms such as
> style and collectivism do connote essentialization; the authors' data
> provide substantiation of the essentialzed norms and communication styles
> (although what one sets out to do confines what one looks for) but I think
> they could have gone a step further. The example of a father's feeling
> uncomfortable when the teacher praised his child does not tell how he may
> act or say to people in his in-group. There is also the assumption that
> home
> socialization remains the same after immigration. Given the contrastive
> framework in Gratier et al., I see little reasons not to include the
> videotaping of the same groups of children (some of them, more likely)
> interacting with their parents at home. Or is another paper forthcoming?
>  Yuan
> On Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 4:46 AM, Michael Glassman <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu
> >wrote:
> > Jay
> > ,
> > It seems to me a playing out - at least to some extent of Bourdieu's
> larger
> > theory.  That increasing the cultural capital of the teacher in relation
> to
> > the class would increase the level of social capital, which would lead to
> > some of the findings they present.  A lack of cultural capital (usually
> > assumed on the part of the students) would certainly lead to more
> > difficulties in communication and the students feeling more uncomfortable
> in
> > class.
> >
> > But this leads to a fairly radical assumption on the part of the authors
> > concerning habitus, even in terms of Bourdieu's theory.  That is that
> > cultural capital can be taught overtly, as cultural capital - Bourdieu
> seems
> > to emphasize that we learn cultural capital more or less unconsciously,
> > through everyday experience in the right situations (whether it is with
> > parents or in a school system where the type of cultural capital that
> leads
> > to easy social capital is pervasive).  I'm not so sure this is possible.
> >
> > I have another difficult which is that I read habitus as defining class
> > distinctions rather than cultural distinctions, and that I'm not sure his
> > ideas translate between the two, or make that much sense if they do.  The
> > types of cultures like Latino/Latina cultures are going to have class
> > distinctions defined by different habitas, defined most easily by
> different
> > levels of economic capital, and different recogntions of symbolic capital
> > (and symbolic violence),  To say a population so large has a single type
> of
> > habitus I think is problematic - especially when using a terms such as
> > collectivist, which is both categorical and far too broad I think to be
> > really salient in describing classes, let alone entire cultures (I think
> > level and type of social capital might be more appropriate if you are
> going
> > to use Bourdeiu's theory as a starting point).
> >
> > Michael
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> > From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Jay Lemke
> > Sent: Thu 12/3/2009 12:16 AM
> > To: XMCA Forum
> > Subject: [xmca] Gratier, Greenfield, & Isaac
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > I don't know how many people have yet had a chance to look at the MCA
> > article-of-the-month (Gratier, Greenfield, & Isaac on communicative
> > habitus and attunement in classrooms).
> >
> > I must have missed something, so could someone explain to me how they
> > derive the hypothesis that the more culturally attuned classroom will
> > have more criticism (by the teacher? or by everyone?) and less praise,
> > than the mismatched classroom?
> >
> > And what do you think generally about the methodology in this work?
> >
> > JAY.
> >
> >
> >
> > Jay Lemke
> > Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
> > Educational Studies
> > University of Michigan
> > Ann Arbor, MI 48109
> > www.umich.edu/~jaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke> > <
> http://www.umich.edu/%7Ejaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke>  <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke <http://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke%3Chttp://www.umich.edu/~jaylemke> >>
> >
> >
> > Visiting Scholar
> > Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
> > University of California -- San Diego
> > La Jolla, CA
> > USA 92093
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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