Scholars routinely use cultural capital theory in an effort to explain class differences in academic success but often overlook the key concept of habitus. Rich, longstanding debates within the literature suggest the need for a closer examination of the individual effects of cultural capital and habitus. Drawing upon the writings of Pierre Bourdieu, I use a longitudinal dataset to examine the effects of multiple operationalizations of cultural capital on academic achievement and the mediating effects of habitus. Using first difference models to control for time-invariant unobserved characteristics, I find that typical operationalizations of cultural capital (i.e. high-arts participation and reading habits) have positive effects on GPA that are completely mediated through habitus. These results stress the importance of habitus in the relationship between cultural capital and academic achievement for disadvantaged youth.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science