Reading ‘Race’ in Bourdieu? Examining Black Cultural Capital

This article extends Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital in relation to ‘race’ and ethnicity by exploring the significance of black cultural capital among middle class black Caribbean young people in a large state school in south London. Black cultural capital is here defined as the appropriation of middle class values by black ethnics. Based on a 14-month-long ethnography, with specific attention to three focus group and 13 in-depth interviews with middle class black Caribbean young people, this piece outlines the benefits of and backlash to black cultural capital that students encounter from white middle class teachers for deploying black middle class tastes and styles in the classroom. The findings suggest that while black middle class pupils draw on black cultural capital to access advantages in formal school settings, they are also invested in challenging the terms of class privilege that marginalise the black working classes.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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