Agency and Cultural Capital

Although the theories of habitus evolution enrich the perspective of cultural reproduction, their agentic approach does not explain how excellent working-class students exercise agency to create cultural capital for themselves. In order to examine this issue, this study employed nonparticipant observation and interview methods to collect data about an excellent working-class student. The findings showed that the subject actively adopted creative strategies for discovering and using academic resources available outside her family’s social space. This agency was initiated by the subject’s envisagement of education as a path of liberation from the expected fate of the working classes. Its practice was further supported by significant others, who provided the subject with crucial help, including inspiration, encouragement, instruction and educational resources.