Tag Archives: Power dynamics

Lamont and Lareau

“It is important to note in this context that we believe that lower class high status
cultural signals (e.g., being streetwise) perform within the lower class the same exclusivist function that the legitimate culture performs in the middle and the upper-middle class. However,for the purpose of clarity, the term cultural capital is not applied to these signals because they cannot be equated with the legitimate culture. A new concept needs to be coined for these signals; “marginal high status signal” is a potential candidate” (157).

This part stood out to me…I think they were wise to pick up on the differences in what is considered, “legitimate culture” in the U.S. and in France. In this passage there is attention paid to the fact that power dynamics exist within all classes. One of the things they did not point to with the same level of attention is the very American brand of racism we have here and how that works on acceptance of different types of culture or the appropriation of certain cultural expressions. I tend to think in terms of music, but as far as literature goes, I would say even using the dialect/slang of the deep south or the city and the stories that expose some of this history of (and present) racism in literature does some work in crossing boundaries and broadening access to information that has been suppressed. For example, “Praisesong for the Widow”, a story of a Black American woman’s struggle with upward mobility and identity formation in a white supremacist society points to some of the ways in which people must learn to navigate multiple cultures and also the power dynamics within each competing culture. There needs to be some discussion about why people become turned off of “high” culture in the U.S. What does it represent and to whom? We also have a culture of animosity towards those awful “elitist” college folk trying to shove their liberal propaganda down people’s throats…Even the very wealthy right (especially in the political realm) are compelled to align themselves with the white working class (i.e. sports knowledge, country music, perhaps Mitt Romney donning a cowboy hat…) There is very rarely any public (mass media) discussion of literature or philosophy. We don’t even have a poet laureate in this state anymore because it became too political and that also has to do with race and class politics.