Cultural Capital By Larry L. Miller

There’s a term you may or may not be aware of- cultural capital. Some may interchange this term with cultural currency. But what is it? What does it refer to? How do you get it? What can you do with it? Allow me to try to shed some light on this topic as best I can.

UrbanDictionary.com defines cultural capital as “Knowledge gained from a wide array of experiences that one has gained through the course of thier life, thus enabling them to succeed more so than someone from a less experienced background.” This is a d 2008 definition and  I don’t think it is the best definition for what we’re referring to here. 

Wikipedia states that cultural capital “comprises the social assets of a person (education, intellect, style of speech, style of dress, etc.) that promote social mobility in a stratified society.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Let’s try to make it more specific to our culture – hereafter referred to as THE culture.

No matter which definition you focus on, cultural capital could probably be summed up by the phrase respect within the culture. Think about the leaders of the culture. Athletes like Allen Iverson who had a major impact in the way we dress. Entertainers like Jay-Z who ushered in the “change clothes” antithesis. Reality stars and social media influencers who may not have a particular job per se but dictate certain aspects of our everyday lives [insert a feminine name starting with K here].

It’s clear that once you’ve been a significant contributor to the culture, you earn enough respect, or cultural capital, to move the culture. This type of power could be dangerous but for the most part isn’t. Cultural leaders pretty much just dictate what’s cool. Be it fashion, music style, cars, technology, or other social norms, we look to people with the most cultural currency for guidance.

We’ll discuss more directly about influence later. For now, ponder on the concept of cultural capital and how to harvest it. As I always say at this time, Hit me on Twitter and Instagram at @dareallastdon with your thoughts.

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