Sunday, July 15, 2012

What is Cultural Capital?

Cultural capital is the wealth that is created when society recognises and invests in the components of culture and also when culture is used to provide economic social, environmental and cultural wellbeing?    It is also about creating income, self employment and social capital.
Here are a few definitions to help you understand this value:

To understand Cultural Capital and Cultural Well-being you should download and read "Cultural Well-being and Cultural Capital" by Penny Eames; /

 If you don't want to download then try some of these definitions:

Cultural capital describes the value of culture when measured as an asset in terms of economic, social and environmental resources”[1].

“...the term cultural capital is used because, like money, our cultural inheritance can be translated into social resources (things like wealth, power and status) and the cultural capital we accumulate from birth can be “spent:’ in education systems as we try to achieve things that are considered to be culturally important[2]”.

“Cultural capital is an important aspect of social capital and social capital is an expression of cultural capital in practice.   Social capital is based on and grows from the norm, values networks and ways of operating that are the core of cultural capital”.[3]

To understand these quotes we also need to understand what we mean by the word culture.  The easiest definition I have found is based if from UNESCO and this definition was accepted and adopted in the Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2001.

...culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual emotional features of society or a social groups, and ... it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs[4]

In my publications I have simplified the meanings and suggest that  “culture is the histories (myths), ideologies, values and the rituals that expresses them[5].

This simple definition gives us the headings for analysing the existing culture of a society, town, community or group.   We can look at these different headings – histories (heritage and myths), values, ideologies and rituals (ceremonies behaviours) and note the positives and negatives. Then we can see how these characteristics of culture can be used to enhance wellbeing generally and become assets

[1] Eames Cultural Well-being and Cultural Capital 2006
[4] UNESCO 2002  UNESCO (2001Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity   Adopted by the 31st session of the UNESCO General Conference, Paris, 2 November 2001
[5] Eames 2009  Spirituality of Older New Zealanders : Bishops Action Foundation  

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