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Distinctions in the making: a theoretical discussion of youth and cultural capital

Prieur, Annick, Savage, Mike ORCID: 0000-0003-4563-9564 and Flemmen, Magne (2023) Distinctions in the making: a theoretical discussion of youth and cultural capital. British Journal of Sociology, 74 (3). pp. 360-375. ISSN 0007-1315

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1468-4446.13002


The aim of this paper is to address the dynamics of contemporary cultural capital by interrogating what counts for young people as valuable cultural resources. Considerable support is given in later scholarship for Bourdieu’s model of the social space, as the overall volume of economic and cultural capital combined is regularly found to be the most important axis of opposition, just as in Bourdieu’s work Distinction. Yet, while Bourdieu found the second axis to be structured by an opposition between those with cultural rather than economic capital, and vice versa, many later studies instead find oppositions between the young and the old to structure the second axis. Up till now, this finding has not been adequately addressed. In this paper, we hold that considering age-related inequalities offers a powerful way of interpreting recent developments in order to understand the changing stakes of cultural capital, and also their interaction with the intensification of inequalities in economic capital. After a theoretical clarification of the relationship between cultural capital and youth, we will synthesise research on young people and explore the significance of youthful cultural consumption. We will pragmatically focus on the 15–30 years old and put a particular accent on Norwegian studies in our review, as they are the most sophisticated in this genre. Four areas are explored: the restricted role of classical culture; the appeal of popular culture; digital distinctions, and moral-political positions as markers of distinction.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2023 00:18
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2024 21:33

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