Cultural Development (Cultural Understanding)

The concept of cultural capital refers to the knowledge, values, skills and attitudes that individuals acquire through their upbringing, education, cultural and social experiences.

It is a term that is often used to explore the proposition that the acquisition of ‘cultural capital’ by – an individual – may confer social and economic advantage.

In this respect, it is inextricably linked to ideas of equity and inclusion which teachers of art, craft and design, or indeed all arts subjects, need to consider in their teaching.  

Cultural capital was first explored in 1986 by Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) a French sociologist who was concerned with the dynamics of status and power in society.

Bourdieu reflected upon the capacity of different types of capital, including economic, cultural, social and symbolic, to confer power, influence and status to those who acquire it, to the consequent disadvantage to those who do not.  

The Cultural Learning Alliance (CLA) refers to more recent research which takes account of further forms of cultural capital which can influence a student’s opportunities, social and economic and prospects.

The CLA and NSEAD ask that all cultural forms or expressions (particularly music, dance or visual arts) and that definitions of cultural capital celebrate different backgrounds, heritage, language and traditions of all learners

Cultural Development (Cultural Capital) 

To achieve the broadest range of cultural development, making connections across subjects, connected with practice to promote awareness and enjoyment to inform, promote plurality, contextualise learning, work respectfully and make connections between all knowledge and information in:

  • Art , Craft & Design
  • Music and Performance
  • Drama
  • Theatre and Dance
  • Literature
  • Classics
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • The Sciences  

Read more about Cultural Capital in NSEAD's ARAEA resources

View Cultural Capital and Art, Craft and Design Education, Dr Clare Stanhope, ARAEA member, head of art and researcher, describes the vital contribution art, craft and design and cultural capital make to our lives.

Visit NSEAD Inspirations to view nine films that define and Cultural Capital in Art and Design Education. These short films were curated and created by the NSEAD Group for Cultural Capital.

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