Singing Alone? The Contribution of Cultural Capital to Social Cohesion and Sustainable Communities – 154KB (2003)

Social capital has been defined by Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community as “features of social organizations, such as networks, norms and trust, that facilitate action and co-operation for mutual benefit.” Cultural capital, as defined by Pierre Bourdieu, has most often been associated with personal interest in and experience with prestigious cultural resources. According to this definition of cultural capital, familiarity with traditional high-culture forms is a defining characteristic of individuals occupying high status positions within a society.

In recent years, cultural policy makers have begun to express a stronger interest in the linkages between these forms of capital. This paper focuses on linkages between personal investments in culture and the propensity to volunteer, using data from the Canadian General Social Survey. It concludes that there are collective benefits from investments in cultural capital and that these benefits make a significant contribution to social cohesion.