Forms of Capital and Social Structure in Cultural Fields: Examining Bourdieu's Social Topography
This article tests one key assumption of Bourdieu's theory of culture fields: that actors are positioned in a "topography" of social relations according to their endowments of economic, social, and cultural capital. Blockmodeling procedures are used to analyze data on German writers and to indentify a social structure in which positions vary according to the types and amounts of capital accumulated. A strong split between elite and marginal writers dominates the social structure, and even the fundamental distinction between high and low culture is embedded in this bipartition. Significant differences in both cultural and social capital distinguish elite from nonelite positions; within this bipartition, pronounced differences in cultural capital separate high and low culture. Relative to cultural and social capital, economic capital plays a lesser role in understanding the social structure of cultural fields.