Bourdieu’s work on economic, social and cultural capital has been widely used to analyse and explain durable, structural inequalities. However, it has not yet been applied in a similar way to further explain the mechanisms behind ghettoization. In the field of ghetto studies there is often a perceived schism between those arguing for a mostly economic look at ghettoization, and those opting for the inclusion of ethnicity. The latter often argue that explaining ghettoization through socio-economic class negates the ethnicity-based mechanisms behind the ghetto. I show how the inclusion of Bourdieu’s capital allows for a partial explanation of housing disadvantages for ethnic minorities while still mainly focussing on socio-economic class.
Points for practioners:
Those involved in the process of shaping public policy can benefit from a capital-driven Bourdieuan lens for structural inequalities. Whether it be in the field of combatting ghettoization, or structural inequalities in different planes of society, Bourdieu offers us a way to incrementally deal with immense issues. Accepting that we can’t fix a structural problem all at once, untangling these issues in terms of social, cultural and economic capital allows us to tackle one facet at a time, while still respecting the complexities of stratified inequality.
Keywords: ghettoization, socio-economic class, capital, wicked problems
Citation: Wallagh, F. (2022). Through the lens of capital: What Bourdieu can teach us about ghettoization and class. Public Note, 9 (14-21)
Freek Wallagh is an Amsterdam-based poet, writer, activist and cultural organiser. In the past he worked as a Labour Party campaign organiser and chairman of the Young Socialists of Amsterdam. Wallagh obtained his bachelor's degree in Political Science at the University of Amsterdam, followed by a master's degree in Arts, Culture and Politics. He has previously published articles on urban inequality, social stratification, socialist politics and alternative art and culture.