Pierre Bourdieu and the concept of linguistic capital (2022)

The term of linguistic capital was coined in the 90s of the 20th century by Pierre Bourdieu, a French social philosopher whose output includes studies in education, culture, art and language. Michel James Grenfell in his recent book Bourdieu, language and linguistics (2011) calls him a ‘public intellectual’ whose

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role can be compared to such great minds of the 20th century as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Michel Faucault. Bourdieu (1990:114) used the concept of linguistic capital to define a specific form of embodied cultural capital which, in this case is understood as the mastery of and relation to language.

It stands for a means of communication and self-presentation acquired from one’s surrounding culture and it is generated by a proper use of language in a proper social context – a habitatus. The habitatus, roughly speaking, plays the role of a linguistic market which assigns specific meanings to particular uses of language. The meanings conveyed depend not only on content (what is said) but also on form, e.g. the way the message has been packaged by means of linguistic structures (cf. discourse genres, e.g. advertisements). The form, in turn, stands for style which can be defined as different ways of saying the same things by striking the right proportions between a sociolect (a social use of language) and idiolect (an individual use of language) according to the perceiving subject/

(Video) (1) Pierre Bourdieu - "The Economics of Linguistic Exchange" (1977)

addressee/audience/objectives.

Through a use of the legitimate language, that is the language which fits the linguistic market, its producer can exercise their social competence which is a marker of their social power and a tool to impose their authority and have things done. The legitimate language which usually is the dominant language has often emerged as such as a result of a historical process, in many cases marked with conflicts as was the case of the colonial context for it. Thus sociologically pertinent differences in language tend to reflect social and economic oppositions and re-translate social and economic differences. On the other hand, language can also level them creating bonds of solidarity and positive relations among its producers.

Let me stress that for Bourdieu capital always refers to social relations within a system of exchange that confers power and status. In the case of cultural capital accumulated cultural knowledge acts as a source of power and status differentiating its producers while the differentiating power of linguistic capital results from the ability of its source, a discourse producer, to use right words, grammar, register, tone, body language, that is all means of verbal and non-verbal communication so as to speak to the point, in a manner that fits the situation and follows the communication scripts proper to it, and serves to have the communication objectives achieved. The linguistic market which functions as a factor structuring social relations and defining them in terms of status, power and action (who can achieve what), assigns a certain value to the types of language and discourses available to the speaker who should choose from their repertoire those ones whose market price is the highest.

The linguistic market behaves as any other market which consists of various commodities, ideas and abilities and evaluates them using economic relations

(Video) Pierre Bourdieu: Theory of Capital (Social and Cultural Capital)

Anna Lubecka

within which under specific circumstances certain linguistic capabilities possess a higher currency than others. For Bourdieu two complementary characteristics define a linguistic market: on the one hand it is substantial as it refers to well-defined social situation, on the other it is abstract because of the rules that assign a certain value to the language used by its producer, as well as the spread, accumulation and reproduction of linguistic capital. Similarly to economic capital which results in class distinction, also all other types of capital serve to classify their producers as either dominated or dominant creating a certain social hierarchy, accepted by some but contested and rejected by others.

In his discussion of language Bourdieu (1990:66-67) uses market oriented terms to draw attention to the practical aspect of language use and its value.

In this way he also breaks away from the intellectual tradition of Ferdinand de Saussure and Noam Chomsky. He thus replaces speaker with producer, receiver with consumer and linguistic exchange with economic exchange with the status of a product. A product is a sing of wealth (capital and profits) and authority (power) depending on its price established by the market.

(Video) Linguistic Capital

The philosophical foundations of Bourdieu’s linguistic capital are shared with Robert Putman’s (2000) concept of soft power with its locus in culture and its effects visible in tangible manifestations of reality, e.g. in real economic power of nations. Soft power serves to generates social capital, the intangibles, in two forms, bonding and bridging, both of which are built by means of interpersonal social relations. Intracultural interpersonal relations account for generating social bonding capital (Putman 2000:74) as they work as frames for solidarity and common interests and consequently encourage users of the same culture to collaborate to achieve common aims. Intercultural interpersonal relations are a source of cultural bridging capital which is created by the potential of differences among individuals who are able to transgress the challenge of the difference and create new ties to work together. Although Putman does not use the concept of language communication directly, it is implied because communication is a basic dimension of culture and social life as well as their vital medium. A degree of its mastery (communicative competence) determines in most cases social success or failure of any social actor, be it an individual or a group.

Communicative competence, and especially intercultural communicative competence, are practical tools with which to create at a potential communicator the ability to act as a resource of linguistic capital which, in post-modern societies is deeply rooted in bonding and bridging capitals as neither institutions nor individuals can exist on their own and primarily global relations decide about their market position and worth. Let me stress that the link between (intercultural) communicative competence of an institution staff and its capital

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is direct and overt in the case of Pierre Bourdieu’s linguistic capital and implied when Robert Putman’s concept of social capital of bonding and bridging type are considered. Communicative competence which allows the communicator to use such language and discourses which are more highly priced than others on the linguistic market embraces three basic components: 1/knowledge, both linguistic (grammar, semantics, discourse management devices) and para-linguistic (e.g. social, cultural, political), 2/communication and social skills as well as 3/attitudes. Michel Byram (1997:91-103) calls them saviors and defines them in the following way: 1/savoir ętre which refers to attitudes of curiosity and openness in contacts with others, 2/savoirs (knowledge) of social groups, their products and practices both in the producer’s and receiver’s culture, 3/savoir comprendre which are skills of interpreting and relating, 4/savoir apprendre/

(Video) Introduction to Bourdieu: Habitus

faire which are skills of discovery and interactions, and 5/savoir s’engager which consists of an ability of critical cultural awareness.

As follows from the above concept of (intercultural) communicative competence, it is not merely a communicative and relational tool but an instrument to do things with words (Austin, 1975) and to transform the non-linguistic reality in such a way as to have the aims met. A proper language and multicultural policy promoted by an organization assists its staff in developing (intercultural) communicative competence by making them acquire useful knowledge, master necessary skills and create proper attitudes. Consequently, its workers become resourceful when communicating/co-operating with partners, which has a direct impact on the institution capital.

2. Cultural diversity – a challenge for Polish administration units on

FAQs

What is linguistic capital Bourdieu? ›

Bourdieu describes linguistic capital as a form of cultural capital, and specifically as the accumulation of a single person's linguistic skills that predetermines their position in society as delegated by powerful institutions.

What does Pierre Bourdieu's concept of social capital refer to? ›

Bourdieu's social capital

Bourdieu saw social capital as a property of the individual, rather than the collective, derived primarily from one's social position and status. Social capital enables a person to exert power on the group or individual who mobilises the resources.

What did Bourdieu say about language? ›

He argues that language should be viewed not only as a means of communication but also as a medium of power through which individuals pursue their own interests and display their practical competence.

What are the 3 types of capital identified by Bourdieu? ›

Bourdieu, however, distinguishes between three forms of capital that can determine peoples' social position: economic, social and cultural capital. Health research examining the effects of cultural capital is scarce.

What is linguistic cultural capital? ›

Linguistic capital refers to “the legitimate competence” in a language as is established by dominant groups, which goes beyond general linguistic proficiency to cultural resources, such as discourse conventions and social norms/values (Bourdieu, 2000, p. 474).

What is cultural capital in language? ›

He states that cultural capital is made up of familiarity with the dominant culture in a society, and especially the ability to understand and use educated language (Bourdieu, 1977b).

What are Bourdieu's two concepts? ›

Bourdieu's concept of social capital puts the emphasis on conflicts and the power function (social relations that increase the ability of an actor to advance her/his interests). Social positions and the division of economic, cultural and social resources in general are legitimized with the help of symbolic capital.

What are Bourdieu's four capitals and how is each defined? ›

According to Bourdieu, cultural capital comes in three forms—embodied, objectified, and institutionalized. One's accent or dialect is an example of embodied cultural capital, while a luxury car or record collection are examples of cultural capital in its objectified state.

What are the main features of Pierre Bourdieu's theory of class? ›

In his research on class reproduction, Bourdieu proposes three aspects to determine individuals' class status: socioeconomic status, class habitus, and cultural and social capitals (Bourdieu and Passeron 1990).

What is linguistic capitalism? ›

For me then, linguistic capitalism occurs when the economic value of words – their exchange value – negates their value in their communicative, or aesthetic sense, with potential collateral effects on the wider discourse. Franco Bifo Berardi calls this the grammar of the digital economy.

What is Pierre Bourdieu's habitus? ›

In Bourdieu's words, habitus refers to “a subjective but not individual system of internalised structures, schemes of perception, conception, and action common to all members of the same group or class” (p. 86).

What is symbolic capital Bourdieu? ›

Bourdieu defines symbolic capital as “the form that the various species of capital assume when they are perceived and recognized as legitimate” (1989, 17; see also Bourdieu 1986).

What are 3 specific examples of cultural capital? ›

Examples of Cultural Capital in Action

Parents taking their children on a trip to a museum. Parents taking their children on a cultural sight seeing tour abroad. Parents encouraging their children to learn the Piano. Parents helping their children with homework.

What are the 4 types of capital? ›

Key Takeaways

The capital of a business is the money it has available to pay for its day-to-day operations and to fund its future growth. The four major types of capital include working capital, debt, equity, and trading capital. Trading capital is used by brokerages and other financial institutions.

What are the 5 different types of capital? ›

It is useful to differentiate between five kinds of capital: financial, natural, produced, human, and social. All are stocks that have the capacity to produce flows of economically desirable outputs. The maintenance of all five kinds of capital is essential for the sustainability of economic development.

What are some examples of social capital? ›

Societal level examples of social capital include when someone opens a door for someone, returns a lost item to a stranger, gives someone directions, loans something without a contract, and any other beneficial interaction between people, even if they don't know each other.

What are cultural linguistic markets? ›

In sociolinguistics, the notion of linguistic marketplace, also known as linguistic market or talk market, refers to the symbolic market where linguistic exchanges happen.

What are the forms of community cultural capital students experience that are identified by Dr Yosso? ›

Yosso's Cultural Wealth Model examines six forms of cultural capital that student of color experience college from an appreciative standpoint: aspirational, linguistic, familial, social, navigational, and resistance.

What is linguistic capitalism? ›

For me then, linguistic capitalism occurs when the economic value of words – their exchange value – negates their value in their communicative, or aesthetic sense, with potential collateral effects on the wider discourse. Franco Bifo Berardi calls this the grammar of the digital economy.

What is resistant capital example? ›

Resistance Capital: These are skills a person develops while being part of a community that actively challenges inequality and oppression. An example of this is Malala Yousafzai. Having grown up under the Taliban regime, Malala's Resistance Capital is considerable, as she has shown the world on many occasions.

What is linguistic diversity? ›

Language diversity, or linguistic diversity, is a broad term used to describe the differences between different languages and the ways that people communicate with each other. Language is one of the features of humanity that sets the species apart from others on Earth, as far as scientists are aware.

What are cultural linguistic markets? ›

In sociolinguistics, the notion of linguistic marketplace, also known as linguistic market or talk market, refers to the symbolic market where linguistic exchanges happen.

What is habitus Bourdieu? ›

In Bourdieu's words, habitus refers to “a subjective but not individual system of internalised structures, schemes of perception, conception, and action common to all members of the same group or class” (p.

What are some examples of social capital? ›

Societal level examples of social capital include when someone opens a door for someone, returns a lost item to a stranger, gives someone directions, loans something without a contract, and any other beneficial interaction between people, even if they don't know each other.

What is symbolic capital sociology? ›

In sociology and anthropology, symbolic capital can be referred to as the resources available to an individual on the basis of honor, prestige or recognition, and serves as value that one holds within a culture. A war hero, for example, may have symbolic capital in the context of running for political office.

Videos

1. Linguistic Capital - Cultural Wealth : Emerging Leaders PDX
(Emerging Leaders PDX)
2. (2) Pierre Bourdieu - "The Economics of Linguistic Exchange" (1977)
(Mike Mena)
3. Bourdieu - simple explanation
(Dr Cheryl Reynolds)
4. Language and Symbolic Power by Pierre Bourdieu
(Tesla Academy of Sciences)
5. Language and Symbolic Power by Pierre Bourdieu
(Heisenberg Academy)
6. Linguistic/Cultural Capital
(Jesus Quintero)

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