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The symbolic economy of social capital. Notes for a research programme

Textual materials

KeywordsTriple Keywords
Social capital (Sociology)
Capital, Social (Sociology)
Flow (Psychology)
Concentration (Psychology)
Standard of value
Capital assets
Fixed assets
Social theory
Political economy
Economic theory


Based on several examples of the sociability of higher classes (in particular a study on the major Milan circles, including Rotary clubs), this article develops a relational analysis of social capital, paying attention to the distinctive value of its form. The unequal conditions for the accumulation of share capital are based on the principle of symbolic domination between the various ways of implementing, maintaining and representing it. After reviewing the main theories of social capital — whether they are part of the network analysis, a sociology of “cultural”, or attempts to link the two — and show how they have neglected this relational dimension of their purpose, we present the conflicting advantages of a sensitive approach to the fact that the ways of describing (and legitimising) the social link are themselves symbolic weapons in the accumulation and maintenance of social capital.

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