In today’s session of Design and Human Condition, we discussed taste and how every individual develops their taste for example music. We discussed in class how we’re not a fan of Indian classical music. Followed by we also discussed how our surroundings and our environment influences us to prefer and develop a certain type of taste. In order to understand this concept even more we discussed Pierre Bourdieu and his theory of how capital influences our taste.

I’ve heard the name Pierre Bourdieu before so right after the class and discussion ended I looked up this research article “Bourdieu on social capital — theory of capital,” that helped me understand the discussion with theoretical reference.

Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist born in the year 1930. He lived and grew up in France and witnessed the Algerian war (1955–1958), that’s when his ethnography became a huge success and since then he’s known for his sociological theories. One of the most important theories, we even touched upon in class discussion; is the theory of capital. Theory of capital is the foundation of a person’s social life and where they stand in a society.[1] The theory states the more time a person spends accumulating capital the more valuable the capital is but again not all forms of capital are equal. When we talk about capital there are two types of capital; social and cultural. Cultural capital is what you have and what you know; this is further divided into objectified cultural capital, institutionalized cultural capital and embodied cultural capital. This brings us to the topic of discussion in class about development of taste; embodied capital is the quality of your mind and body. An individual with certain skills, specific accent and particular taste will have these individual embodied cultural capitals. [2] Objectified cultural capital is materialistic luxuries a person owns and its cultural importance in a society. Institutionalized cultural capital is the qualification of a person and it’s importance in a society. An example would be doctor (especially when it comes to doctor bahu.) Embodied cultural capital plays the key role in forming a barrier between different social classes. A person with more embodied social capital will wear a specific outfit, will behave, walk and talk in a specific way so that we can differentiate and tell what class one belongs to. For example people who speak with an accent are tend to belong from the other side of the bridge and are known to have power and privilege. Another example is private schools and Cambridge education that highlights upper middle class and people with more embodied cultural capital therefore higher status in society.

You see how the theory of capital is so important as all three cultural capital are correlated and so is social capital. All of these factors are really important for designers to observe and research as a product is designed for a specific type of consumer. Our recent visual communication design assignment consists of redesigning the logo and packaging of a local organic brand and this theory will help us develop a design catering a diverse society of consumer as the brand has its outlets all over the city. Another important aspect of this research is how an individual develop a taste from its surrounding and how they react to it. Sociologists have researched these theories and this important theories help designers improve their functional designs and visualize different perspectives of life.

[1] Tristan Claridge. 2020. “Bourdieu on Social Capital — Theory of Capital.” July 18, 2020. https://www.socialcapitalresearch.com/bourdieu-on-social-capital-theory-of-capital/.

[2] Pierre Bourdieu, “THE FORMS OF CAPITAL.” http://arlt-lectures.com/bourdieu.pdf

Communication Design student from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture