Thursday, January 27, 2005

Economic capital, Social capital and Culture capital

As I was reading about the theories and the debate over Information and Equity, in particular the part regarding the Horizontal Perspective, I recalled the work of a French sociologist that put in relation economical, social and culture capital. His name is Pierre Bourdieu. I think that his theories are strictly related to the Horizontal Perspective on Digital Divide.
I found a very brief and simple summary of his theories on Wikipedia ( And here I paste some of it just to give a taste... hoping it could be interesting.

"[...] Instead of analyzing societies in terms of classes, Bourdieu uses the concept of field: a social arena in which people maneuver and struggle over desirable resources. A field is a system of social positions, structured internally in terms of power relationships. Different fields can be quite autonomous and more complex societies have more fields. There are three fundamental types of capital: 1. Economic capital: command over economic resources. 2. Social capital: relationships, networks of influence and support, people can tap into by virtue of their social position. 3. Cultural capital: parents provide children with cultural capital, the attitudes and knowledge that makes the educational system a comfortable familiar place in which they can succeed easily. Bourdieu’s theory is one of class reproduction, of how one generation of class ensures that it reproduces itself and passes on its privileges to the next generation. The main source of modern success is education. What is necessary for educational success is a whole set of cultural behavior. [...]"

I think that, as long as those capitals would be distributed unevenly, there will be a sort of social divide. Digital or whatever. And, as Bourdieu states that the main source of modern success is education, I think that the only way to proceed toward a partial reduction of the digital divide is to educate users or information seekers. The problem now seems to be different: Do all the people have an equal access to education? Is it due to economic differences between people?
In Italy would say that this matter is like a cat that is trying to catch its own tail... kind of never ending and circular.

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