Overview of cultural capital theory's current impact and potential utility in academic libraries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This literature review introduces academic librarians and library administrators to Pierre Bourdieu's Cultural Capital Theory (CCT). CCT originates from the fields of sociology and education. People possess cultural capital in varying degrees according to their level of access to cultural resources, participation in cultural activities, and titles held in high regard by the cultural community. CCT argues that people can acquire certain forms of cultural capital, and those who are successful improve their social status. Academic libraries are in a prime position to be a source of cultural capital, and many already have an established ethos of assisting their vulnerable student populations. A survey of professional library and information science (LIS) literature was conducted to identify articles that substantially discuss cultural capital as it relates to education, libraries, and information literacy. We discovered that CCT has not been comprehensively studied in the LIS discipline. This literature review reveals the limited current understanding of cultural capital from an academic library perspective and posits that students may benefit from academic library leaders examining their services, resources, and programs through a cultural capital perspective. Challenges of this theory, its connection to other critical approaches, and recommendations for future research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102782
JournalJournal of Academic Librarianship
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences

Cite this