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Adult Participation Sports as Cultural Capital: A Test of Bourdieu’s Theory of the Field of Sports

Опубликовано на портале: 30-08-2006
International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 2005.  Vol. 40. No. 4. P. 411-432. 
Тематический раздел:
This study extends recent tests of Bourdieu’s theory of sports as cultural capital using data from the 1998 US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) on adult Americans’ frequency and intensity of participation in 15 sports. Most of the previous tests of Bourdieu’s theory have been limited to general measures of sport participation, and have provided general support for the thesis that sports operate as cultural capital. The NHIS data allow inferences about the principles of distinction dividing social classes in the field of participatory sports. More extensive tests of the ‘prole’ and ‘omnivore’ theses are also presented. The analysis shows that many sports are highly class exclusive and that the principles of exclusion fit closely with Bourdieu’s theory of the relational structure of the field of adult participation sports. The dominant classes use strenuous aerobic sports, moderate levels of weight-training, and competitive sports that restrict direct physical domination and/or are aerobically strenuous, in order to draw boundaries between themselves and the middle and lower classes. Competitiveness and demonstrating the ‘will to win’ within ‘civilized’ constraints on physical domination appear to be an important secondary principle of distinction. The evidence also supports a gendered ‘ascetic vs luxury’ divide between the culturally and economically weighted fractions of the dominant class. There is strong support for the cultural omnivore thesis, but the ‘prole’ thesis is not supported. These finding are also congruent with both Lareau’s description of the upper middle class cultural logic of ‘concerted cultivation’ and Lamont’s findings with regard to upper-middle-class boundary-making around ‘self-actualization’ and ‘moral character’.
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