Pierre Bourdieu And Cultural Capital And Cultural Relativism

1677 words - 7 pages

Human beings develop beliefs of the world based on their interpretations of observations and experiences, actively preserving, interpreting, and producing meaning within their own social world. The physical embodiment of cultural capital has become a substantial, if not the primary educational force, in regulating the meanings, values, and tastes that set the norms that define our understanding of self, the foundation of social life, and dictates one’s position within the social order. Repeated exposure to socializing agents within a family normalizes certain dynamics and renders others invisible in the process, a cycle of cultural relativism that resounds with elders who have received the ...view middle of the document...

“Death Without Weeping” explores the shocking cultural normativity of dreadfully high rates of infant mortality in Alto do Cruzeiro, a Brazilian suburb in which children lead funeral processions, families live unaffectedly as deceased infants lie in cardboard coffins on tabletops, and mother’s are discouraged from crying for their loss as it dampens the delicate wings of the anjinhos and creates a slippery path to heaven. “Intimate Apartheid” examines the racial dynamics amongst African American and Caucasian members of San Francisco’s homeless heroin addicted population and how race actively plays a part in the habitus of poverty through injection preferences, work ethic, and interpersonal communication.
In a world plagued by catastrophic inequality, the deprived souls that suffer most ruthlessly are those living in poverty, nearly half of our world’s population. Twenty-one thousand people die each day from starvation, while so many others fight grueling battles just to provide their family the meager resources needed to live to see the following day. San Francisco’s homeless heroin-addicted population endures vicious destitution to support their detrimental drug habit -- depriving themselves of nourishment, sanitation, and shelter in lieu of a quick fix. Much like the conditions of scarcity faced by the down-and-out druggies of SF, the families living in the favelas of Brazilian municipality, Camburquira, are condemned to hostile and neglectful living environments that negatively impact the health and ultimately survival of its infants. Although geographically situated on opposing sides of the equator, both of these cultures have experienced the devastating consequences of social and financial disparity and the tragic cycle of turmoil that surely comes with the lifestyle. Intimate Apartheid sheds light on what exactly this “cycle” means in an African American context:
Family and childhood experiences are another crucial generative dimension
of habitus. Childhood formations continue to haunt or reward individuals even as their lives unfold and change dramatically. … all the African Americans [homeless heroin addicts] spent crucial parts of their adolescence in juvenile correctional facilities due to gang fighting before they began using drugs. … being a street-based outlaw can be a rewarding construction of masculinity for African Americans…There is a certain amount of tolerance and understanding among their kin for their lumpen condition of indigent addiction. (Bourgois, Schonberg 18)

Poverty-stricken families statistically yield children of equal financial outcome; the rungs of the economic ladder are seemingly insurmountable given the lack of opportunity and thus the cycle of poverty is not only understood, it is expected. Similarly, the offspring of the Alto women are born into a neglectful world of deathly expectations in which, should they overcome the fatal odds, are subjected to a childhood of funeral processions and an adulthood of...

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