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"Science capital": A conceptual, methodological, and empirical argument for extending Bourdieusian notions of capital beyond the arts

Archer, L; Dawson, E; DeWitt, J; Seakins, A; Wong, B; (2015) "Science capital": A conceptual, methodological, and empirical argument for extending Bourdieusian notions of capital beyond the arts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching , 52 (7) 922- 948. 10.1002/tea.21227. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper sets out an argument and approach for moving beyond a primarily arts-based conceptualization of cultural capital, as has been the tendency within Bourdieusian approaches to date. We advance the notion that, in contemporary society, scientific forms of cultural and social capital can command a high symbolic and exchange value. Our previous research [Archer et al. (2014) Journal of Research in Science Teaching 51, 1–30] proposed the concept of “science capital” (science-related forms of cultural and social capital) as a theoretical lens for explaining differential patterns of aspiration and educational participation among young people. Here, we attempt to theoretically, methodologically, and empirically advance a discussion of how we might conceptualize science capital and how this might be translated into a survey tool for use with students. We report on findings from a survey conducted with 3658 secondary school students, aged 11–15 years, in England. Analysis found that science capital was unevenly spread across the student population, with 5% being classified as having “high” science capital and 27% “low” science capital. Analysis shows that levels of science capital (high, medium, or low) are clearly patterned by cultural capital, gender, ethnicity, and set (track) in science. Students with high, medium, or low levels of science capital also seem to have very different post-16 plans (regarding studying or working in science) and different levels of self-efficacy in science. They also vary dramatically in terms of whether they feel others see them as a “science person.” The paper concludes with a discussion of conceptual and methodological issues and implications for practice.

Type: Article
Title: "Science capital": A conceptual, methodological, and empirical argument for extending Bourdieusian notions of capital beyond the arts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/tea.21227
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1002/tea.21227
Language: English
Additional information: © 2015 The Authors. Journal of Research in Science Teaching Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Keywords: Bourdieu; capital; science capital; survey
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469306
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