European inventory of
societal values of culture

Bennett, Savage, Silva, Warde, Gayo-Cal & Wright - Culture, Class, Distinction

Bennett, T., Savage, M., Silva, E.B., Warde, A., Gayo-Cal, M., & Wright, D. (2009). Culture, Class, Distinction. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415560771

This study is the most comprehensive consideration of the relationship between social class and cultural practices since Bourdieu's classic work Distinction (1984 [1979]). The collection is based on research conducted in Great Britain from 2003 to 2006 within the Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion project funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It is not just a replica of Bourdieu's research but also its expansion and critical assessment in light of developments in the social sciences and changed political and historical circumstances. As Craig Calhoun has put it, this is ‘a book to read alongside Bourdieu, using his work as a model and stimulation for continuing empirical inquiry’.

The contributions to this collection discuss three basic questions: 1) the question of the composition of cultural capital and its role in the reproduction of class relations in Great Britain; 2) the relative importance of cultural capital in relation to economic and social capital in generating class differences; and 3) to what extent the cultural capital approach provides an adequate conceptual basis for formulating a cultural policy aimed at overcoming social exclusion. The attempts to answer these questions have resulted in ‘the most sophisticated mapping of British cultural practices and preferences ever undertaken’ (John Frow). In the words of Michèle Lamont, the authors ‘go beyond the seminal work of Pierre Bourdieu to consider simultaneously symbolic boundaries in the context of racial and ethnic diversity, gendered patterns of cultural preferences, specific fields of cultural practices (reading, music, the visual arts, the body), and much more. Social scientists within and beyond the UK have much to learn from this ambitious and path-breaking collective research’.



Bennett, Savage, Silva, Warde, Gayo-Cal & Wright “Culture, Class, Distinction”