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Accounting for Culture

 | 
Caroline Andrew
, 
Monica Gattinger
, 
M. Sharon Jeannotte
, 
et al.

Part III. New Approaches in a Changing Cultural Environment

10. The Elusiveness of Full Citizenship

Accounting for Cultural Capital, Cultural Competencies, and Cultural Pluralism

Karim H. Karim

Texte intégral

1Most discussions about cultural capital seem to revolve around the consumption or use of cultural goods and services. This chapter attempts to address some aspects of a more fundamental role that cultural capital plays in society. Adopting an anthropological perspective on culture as a way of life, it seeks to widen Pierre Bourdieu’s discussion of the social exclusion that results from a person’s lack of certain aesthetic dispositions to one that accounts for broader aspects of life. Cultural capital in the present discussion refers not only to the acquisition of taste and distinction, but to an individual’s possession of a more extensive set of cultural competencies. They include the forms of knowledge and practices that all human beings need in order to interact with each other in society.

  • 1 M. Sharon Jeannotte, “Just Showing Up: Social and Cultural Capital in Everyday Life,” chap. 9 in t (...)

2Sharon Jeannotte1 succinctly summarizes Bourdieu’s conceptualization of cultural capital as consisting of three elements:

…1) embodied capital (or habitus), the system of lasting dispositions that form an individual’s character and guide his or her actions and tastes; 2) objectified capital, the means of cultural expression, such as painting, writing, and dance, that are symbolically transmissible to others; and 3) institutionalized capital, the academic qualifications that establish the value of the holder of a given qualification.1

3The present chapter’s inquiry is primarily concerned with the competencies that individuals hold in themselves rather than the objectified and institutionalized forms of cultural capital. Bourdieu presents “habitus” as the sociological factors (parentage, class, education) that lead to the production of a person’s capacities for taste. Whereas I find his overly-structural analytical framework and its implications for the relative immutability of individual taste to be problematic, this study does draw from his idea of the embodied nature of cultural capital.

  • 2 Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of Taste (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, (...)
  • 3 Ibid., 12.

4Bourdieu’s well-known inquiry into this matter, published in English as Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste,2 was motivated by the effort to identify the aspects of bourgeois culture that become symbolic of social status. The book presented his analysis of a survey that he conducted in the 1960s in France. The survey sought to determine how the cultivated disposition and cultural competence that are revealed in the nature of the cultural goods consumed, and in the way they are consumed, vary according to the category of agents and the area to which they applied, from the most legitimate areas such as painting or music to the most “personal” ones such as clothing, furniture or cookery, and within the legitimate domains, according to the markets—“academic” and “non-academic”—in which they may be placed.3

5The present discussion’s anthropological approach to culture does not subscribe to notions of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of cultural practices. On the contrary, it involves in its ambit of inquiry broader cultural expressions such as language, humour, and communal memory. It also seeks to address the pluralism of Western societies that goes beyond the traditional idea of a culturally homogenous nation-state.

  • 4 Edward T. Hall’s influential work, The Silent Language (1973), demonstrated how the unspoken inter (...)

6The key question for this discussion is: how does a liberal democracy strive to broaden the access to social power that some citizens have by possessing specific kinds of cultural capital? As with Bourdieu, this question suggests that cultural capital facilitates the acquisition, maintenance, and growth of other forms of capital. It is also vital to having effective citizenship. Cultural capital is to be found in the cultural knowledge and competencies that an individual holds, but which are not necessarily articulated by society in formal manners.4

  • 5 Nick Crossley, “Citizenship, Intersubjectivity and Lifeworld,” in Nick Stevenson, ed., Culture and (...)

7The citizen role involves a range of forms of tacit knowledge, competence and taken-for-granted assumptions. Citizens must know how to engage in citizenship activities. They require basic working knowledge of the political system and skills in accessing and processing information, interpreting political talk, and debating public issues. All of this must be contained in the taken-for-granted knowledge which comprises their (shared) lifeworld.5

  • 6 Jim McGuigan, “Three Discourses of Cultural Policy,” in Stevenson, Culture and Citizenship, 124-37

8Jim McGuigan rightly notes that cultural citizenship vastly exceeds the ambit of traditional cultural policy.6 It has implications for a variety of state policies, including economic policy, since those citizens who do not have certain forms of cultural competencies are denied access to society’s resources.

Citizenship

  • 7 Derek Heater, What is Citizenship? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), 87.

9Most contemporary liberal democracies uphold the principle of equality among their respective citizens and reflect this goal in their legislative and policy structures. Social inclusion is generally viewed as the means to ensure the benefits of citizenship for all. However, it is debatable whether fall citizenship—the ideal of complete access to participation in social, cultural, economic, political, and spiritual aspects of national life—is attainable. According to Derek Heater,7 the practice of such “perfect citizenship” is dependent on both the society as well as the citizen. He constructs a hierarchy in which the full citizens “have the most complete set of rights and who most fully discharge their civic duties”—this involves an active effort to be engaged with one’s rights and responsibilities. On the second rung of Heater’s schema are “passive citizens”—who have the freedom and ability to participate in society but do not do so. Below them are “second-class citizens… who have the legal status of citizen but, because of discrimination, are denied full rights in practice.” Next come the “underclass” who “are so economically and culturally impoverished that they are in effect excluded from the normal style of social and political activity which the term citizen connotes.” At the bottom of the ladder are the “denizens” who are residents but not nationals in the country where they have a very limited range of rights.

10Citizenship of any kind is not possible without the possession of a set of basic rights that enables an individual to participate in various sectors of society. She also has to have the inclination and the personal capability (physical, economic, cultural) to exercise those rights, as well as to fulfill her social responsibilities. Furthermore, the freedom to conduct these activities implies that they are not impeded by either structural or temporary barriers. However, it is doubtful that any one individual, no matter how privileged and active in society, is able to participate in all aspects of life. Full citizenship, if conceptualized in that manner, is an unattainable ideal. In practical terms, it may be conceived of as the freedom to carry out the socially responsible actions that express one’s rights and fulfill one’s duties within the range of one’s areas of interests. This freedom does not imply the complete actualization of one’s intentions. Even the leader of the country can only hope to participate optimally in the particular fields of life in which she is involved, rather than be engaged to the maximum degree.

  • 8 Karim H. Karim, “Relocating The Nexus Of Citizenship, Heritage and Technology,” Journal of the Eur (...)
  • 9 Bryan S. Turner, “Outline of a General Theory of Cultural Citizenship,” in Stevenson, Culture and (...)
  • 10 Crossley, “Citizenship, Intersubjectivity and Lifeworld.”

11The mid-1990s saw the emergence of the discussion on cultural rights,8 which later gave rise to the contemporary debate on cultural citizenship. Among the issues that this debate is addressing is the very exercise of effective citizenship. As a tentative definition, Bryan S. Turner states that “cultural citizenship can be described as cultural empowerment, namely the capacity to participate effectively, creatively and successfully within a national culture”9; he then goes on to problematize this formulation with a discussion of globalization, cosmopolitanism, and contemporary communication technologies. Nick Crossley10 suggests that the exercise of citizenship is based on the cultural recognition of communal symbols and an intersubjective relationship with others in society, without which it would be merely an ideological construct.

  • 11 Bourdieu, Distinction, 2.
  • 12 Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959).

12Effective citizenship involving participation in various areas of social life is dependent on knowing how to interpret relevant information culturally rather than merely in a technical fashion. In order to acquire the cultural competencies to operate in particular social situations the citizen has to be able to understand the subtle codes that underlie the surface appearance of a situation. “A beholder who lacks the specific code feels lost in a chaos of sounds and rhythms, colours and lines, without rhyme or reason.”11 Symbolic interactionists like Erving Gofiman12 have demonstrated the kinds of knowledge that one needs for basic societal relationships.

  • 13 Whereas the concept of “race” rests on contested ground, it is presented here as it is conceived o (...)

13Having the right sets of knowledge is vital for effective participation in various spheres of life and for socio-economic and political mobility. The former are acquired through socialization, education, and interactions with others. Appropriate occupational training is supposed to open doors to opportunities for participation in economic life; however, in practical terms one needs not only the requisite bodies of knowledge necessary for performing the nominal aspects of the job at hand but also other “inside information” such as the relevant jargon to conduct informal conversations related to the work. The more adept a person is in such cultural competencies, which are often mistakenly viewed as being superfluous, the better she will perform. Whereas the technical occupational knowledge usually is the basis of being hired, relevant cultural insight is crucial for advancement. In some cases, “the right fit” into the existing office culture is a requirement for being engaged in the first place—attending a particular school, support for a specific sports team, or willingness to engage in an extracurricular pastime can be an unwritten but essential criterion. Membership in a particular religion, race,13 class, gender, or sexual orientation can give applicants an edge over others; conversely, it can also automatically disqualify them. Such discrimination is prompted not only by the characteristics of a group but also against the cultural behaviour that is perceived as resulting from it—a person of a particular ethnicity can be viewed stereotypically as being prone to certain outlooks and actions that will not provide the right “fit” with the predominant office culture.

  • 14 C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956).

14Business networking is usually conducted within social circles defined by group membership. Institutions such as private clubs are perhaps the most exclusive venues for the exclusive venues for the exchange of valuable information and the forming of partnerships. They have traditionally been restricted on the bases of gender, class, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Informal, but similarly exclusive “old boys’ clubs” operate in a variety of ways in society to limit access to outsiders. They have an adherence to similar sets of values derived from common social backgrounds—this sustains bonds of trust among members. Professional organizations tend overtly to be less restrictive than private clubs but have strict criteria based on educational qualifications. However, they can play a significant role in determining entrance to institutions that grant the requisite diplomas, thus determining future membership at the source. Professional associations also limit the acceptance of immigrants with qualifications from foreign universities. Even though the general membership of these organizations may be pluralistic, their executive bodies are often reflective of old boys’ clubs. Ultimately, it is not only the formal, publicly available forms of knowledge (i.e., through educational institutions) that are key to societal power, but the cultural knowledge that comes from membership in particular social groups. C. Wright Mills, in his classic study of The Power Elite,14 showed the linkages between the political, business, and military elites of the United States who moved in overlapping social circles and intermarried among themselves. Such people, having access to the highest echelons of social, economic and political power, appear to come closest to enjoying the status of full citizenship.

15Membership in the power elite is effected by a combination of inheritance, the right education/training (more accurately expressed in the French term formation), and personal initiative. The possession of forms of cultural competency that enable an individual to navigate through the stormy waters of high level power contests are vital to maintain dominance and further one’s aims. But the path to full citizenship is populated with individuals who have differential degrees of entry determined by innate characteristics or abilities. The nouveau riche are primary examples of those who have succeeded in joining the upper echelons despite lacking the “proper” pedigree; but even they may have to endure the occasional social snub for lapses in cultural judgement arising from subde gaps in upbringing. Having the “wrong” gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or a disability also remain significant (although not always insurmountable) obstacles for them to join the inner circles.

16The many rungs on the ladder to full citizenship have their own sets of exclusions based on a variety of social characteristics and cultural competencies. Society’s multifarious in-groups have their respective restrictions for entry. Some of these are constituted by minorities who are powerless in the larger society but create their own exclusive circles and hierarchies. They are even able to deny membership to individuals belonging to dominant groups who lack the specific biological characteristics or cultural competencies valued by the group. Nevertheless, even the “big fish” in these “small ponds” are unable to claim full citizenship in the larger society.

Cultural Competencies

  • 15 For discussions of Canadian cultural terminology and their implications for inclusion and exclusio (...)
  • 16 I distinguish the national, dominant, or mainstream public sphere from what Todd Gitlin calls “pub (...)

17The state grants specific cultural rights based on collective history and contemporary policy. Even though limited practice of Aboriginal forms of self-government and justice are permitted and multiculturalism is an official federal policy, mainstream institutions (e.g., those of governance, law, social organization) in Canada are primarily drawn from the history of what until recently were termed “the founding nations.”15 The historical experiences of Britain and France are embedded in numerous ways in state institutions and by extension in non-governmental sectors of Canadian society which have to interact with the state. It is impossible to function in the national public sphere16 without competencies derived from the cultural heritage of the dominant groups. The freedom to speak in one’s own language in a public place is the manifestation of significant cultural power, which is probably best understood by those who feel unable to do this as a result of society’s norms.

18An essential requirement for the practice of full citizenship in Canada is the ability to speak at least one of the two official languages, English or French—preferably both. A newcomer to any society quickly learns that it is not only the knowledge of grammar and diction but the ability to speak in the right accents which is crucial for social acceptability. The dominant language and respective accent usually vary from place to place in the country, and the effective exercise of citizenship needs local knowledge.

  • 17 A major exception to this appears to be former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who seemed f (...)

19Politicians17 and broadcasters who operate in national or regional public spheres are usually required to be able to enunciate in ways that are familiar to dominant groups in society. These accents do not necessarily have to be those of the social elites (which are often of greater significance in social circles where class is of primary importance), but forms of speech that are viewed as being “indigenous” to the locale. Some, but not all, non-dominant accents will be permitted here. For example, whereas South Asian or African ways of speaking English will rarely be heard on Canadian airwaves, the English services of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation regularly run the stories of reporters speaking in Québecois accents (although this does not preclude various forms of cultural exclusion against francophones in various parts of the country).

20Success in the multitude of formal and informal in-groups, as quite distinct from that in the dominant public sphere, requires competencies in their respective jargon and slang. Each clique has its own sets of inside knowledge and practices. Some are very restrictive in the ways in which they guard their specialized forms of information. Entry into the particular group may range from intricate initiation rituals to security clearances (in addition to requiring adherence to a particular gender, race, class, religion, political ideology, or sexual orientation, or a combination thereof). Many of these circles may be irrelevant to the attainment of full citizenship in the larger society, but some may hold information that is vital to greater participation in various spheres of life.

21In order to interact as a member, one needs to have the appropriate cultural competencies that enable sociability with other members of the respective group. This may include the performance of precise rituals such as certain verbal and bodily salutations or merely the ability to engage in small talk Office banter can be key to forming alliances and networks essential for the effective performance on the job. They can lead to greater camaraderie and the building of trust. Vital information may also be regularly shared in the course of these informal chats that may afford opportunities for career advancement.

  • 18 Many have turned to the works of people like Dale Carnegie and others in the burgeoning self-help (...)

22The ability to engage in this seemingly simple human interaction may be enormously difficult for particular individuals for a variety of reasons. Some are unable to participate due to personality traits such as shyness. Others lack the knowledge or social skills for such activity.18 The entry-point into the casual conversations is often the content of popular culture. Television shows or newspaper headlines can be the common base for engaging in banter (or “water cooler talk”) that can lead to talk about matters more pertinent to work, but which the organizational communication channels are not disclosing by commission or omission.

23Newcomers to an institution are required to learn the cultural competencies to participate in these seemingly superfluous but vital exchanges. Recent immigrants to a country have even more to absorb. The particular television programs, movies, current affairs, sports, and celebrities that are the fodder of office chit-chat are often missing in their cultural knowledge. First, they have to be able to identify the sources of the most popular sets of information that form the bases of the discussions in the respective workplace. Second, having identified the sources, the interpretive skills of making sense of the information within the cognitive frameworks of workmates have to be acquired. Depending on the individual, this ability may take years to finesse.

  • 19 Jude Bloomfield and Franco Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance in Western Europe (...)

24For many, these cultural competencies remain unattainable, and the access to various resources which they offer is blocked off for them. This failure is repeated in myriad ways in other spheres of life. Whereas full citizenship is an almost impossible goal for such individuals, opportunities for specific forms of social, economic, or political participation are also severely limited. “In a media-dominated politics and economy of symbolic production, just as cultural capital converts into political capital, lack of cultural capital converts into political exclusion.”19

  • 20 Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory, Lewis A. Coser trans., (Chicago: University of Chicago Pr (...)
  • 21 This is not to imply that the interpretations of all members of dominant groups are uniformly simi (...)

25Both mainstream media content and its forms of interpretation are drawn from broader societal contexts. Persons belonging to dominant cultures are usually socialized into the historical and cultural memories that underlie contemporary cultural discourses.20 This is carried out in a variety of ways, which include family upbringing, religious instruction, secular schooling, and the learning of societal lore. Those who do not share in this corpus of information will have interpretations of the contemporary events of society that will be of significant variance from those of dominant groups.21 As a result, they find themselves often being out of step as they try to march along with the rest of society. This usually leads to social, cultural, economic, and political marginalization.

26The following passage from an article in an Ottawa-area community newspaper describes how “Canadians” and “multicultural groups” entertained themselves simultaneously but separately in two sides of the same public building:

  • 22 “Civic Square was Brimming,” The Clarion (Feb. 9, 1993).

Civic Square was brimming with Canadian and multi-cultural pride last Thursday night. In one end of the building, in Centrepointe Theatre, comedian Lorne Elliot shared humorous anecdotes and songs, which only Canadians could love and understand… In the other end of the building in the Council Chambers, Nepean Outreach to the World (now) presented “Africa—A Celebration” in tribute to this city’s multicultural groups especially the African community.22

27The “multicultural groups,” who are distinguished from the (real) “Canadians,” are presented implicitly in the newspaper as being unable to understand what those whose families have lived in the country for generations can appreciate in the comedian’s performance.

  • 23 Sigmund Freud, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, James Strachey trans. (New York: Pengu (...)

28This seems to underline what Sigmund Freud remarked about all jokes being inside jokes—their nuances can be truly appreciated only by the in-group familiar with their cultural context.23 This involves knowing not only how to tell a joke, but also what to joke about, when to joke, and when to laugh. The lack of this cultural competency in a situation like a job interview can spell disaster. Humour is an essential part of social bonding, and those who are left out of the circle of laughter also find themselves excluded from the vital occasions for societal participation.

29Even though contemporary society has become more informal than it used to be even in the mid-twentieth century, there still remains a range of taboos for various social situations. Many of these generally remain unstated, but the knowledge of their existence is shared among in-groups. The knowledge of the kinds of speech and actions that are socially expected, or, on the other hand, prohibited or frowned upon is essential for entry into various circles. Gaffes resulting from the lack of this knowledge severely reduce social mobility.

30Although the rules of etiquette have loosened substantially in recent decades, almost all social situations require a certain knowledge of how to comport oneself. The contexts which are controlled institutionally or informally by certain groups often have rituals that are unknown to outsiders. Indeed they are the means by which the exclusivity of the group and the power of its leadership is maintained. Knowledge of appropriate clothing for specific social situations can also determine inclusion or exclusion. Newcomers are often confused by the subtle codes of formality and informality that exist in their new locations of settlement—especially those that change from one social context to another. Cultural capital includes the knowledge of when certain rules can be bent or even broken without incurring social penalties.

31However, cultural competencies are continually undergoing changes and even members of in-groups can occasionally fall out of the loop. Dramatic technological developments, economic upheaval, social or political revolutions, war, etc., can change the rules in more sudden manners. For example, the skills required for individuals to be upwardly mobile have undergone drastic shifts with the widespread use of the Internet. Globalization and worldwide migration have significantly changed the topography of social exchanges, and have necessitated the learning of a range of new competencies. Such ongoing changes are usually the cause of what is often referred to as the “generation gap”

Cultural Pluralism and Public Sphericules

32Almost every country in the world is seeking to come to terms with the diversity of its respective population. In this, governments find themselves having to overcome a structural contradiction relating to the concept of the nation-state. An underlying premise of the nation-state since its emergence in Europe several hundred years ago has been the existence of a populace within its borders that is culturally, ethnically, and linguistically monolithic. There has historically been a deliberate and consistent attempt to disregard most forms of diversity. A limited recognition of linguistic pluralism was granted in a small number of states, and the operation of democracy allowed for political diversity.

  • 24 Karim, “Public Sphere and Public Sphericules.”
  • 25 Charles Husband, “Differentiated Citizenship and the Multi-Ethnic Public Sphere,” Journal of Inter (...)
  • 26 Karim, “Public Sphere and Public Sphericules.”

33However, it was not until the early 1970s that official multiculturalism appeared, first in Canada and Australia, and later in some other countries. This has allowed for the legitimization of a wider range of cultural competencies and their acceptance in the broader public sphere than had existed previously. However, the cultural hegemony of dominant groups continues to be maintained, despite challenges from alternative discourses.24 For the most part, cultural minorities do not have easy access to the dominant public sphere. They are limited to operating in what Charles Husband25 terms “the multi-ethnic public sphere” and Todd Gitlin calls “public sphericules.” Such “sphericules” reflect the multiple conversations in society, including those carried out by alternative and ethnic media. They may overlap with each other and with the dominant public sphere, but generally do not reach the broader audiences of the latter.26

  • 27 Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Thomas Burger, trans. (Cambri (...)

34These sphericules tend in some ways to mirror the pluralism of civil society and are an important aspect of democratic practices. Rather than the notion of the largely monolithic public sphere of Jürgen Habermas,27 this way of conceptualizing the multiplicity of cultural, social, political, and economic activity enables a much better understanding of the many interlocking streams of discourse that permeate social life. It enables a bottom-up view of how communities are shaped and how public opinion is formed.

35The cultural competencies required to operate in the many public sphericules vary between each other. Those whose membership is drawn from elite groups generally have easier access to the larger public sphere since the discourses with which they articulate issues have often become entrenched in society through the ability of these groups to dominate public culture. They usually have substantial roles in the regulation and ownership of the mass media and other institutions that influence the interpretation of societal symbols. Their members are skilled and knowledgeable in discussing and shaping public policy in a wide range of areas.

  • 28 Karim, “Public Sphere and Public Sphericules.”

36Non-elite groups tend to lack such cultural capital. They have to work much harder to be able to access public discourses and to participate in broader societal arenas. However, they may gain some influence in liberal democracies that give all the members of the population agency in basic political activities. If they are able to manifest political clout, such as the ability to turn out significant numbers of voters for an election to a public office, prominent leaders will beat a path to their door and even attempt to acquire some of their particular cultural competencies to be able to communicate with the participants in the sphericule. For example, leading federal and provincial politicians regularly visit the offices of ethnic media in Vancouver, a city with significant numbers of voters from ethnic minorities, to give interviews.28

37Bourdieu’s analysis, based on empirical work done in France in the 1960s, docs not account for the contemporary ethnic diversity in that and other Western countries. Even the assimilative tendencies of contemporary French governments cannot completely disregard the cultural pluralism of the population. The cultural capital required for success in mainstream public spheres continues to undergo change to account for the increasing diversity, but dominant groups strive to maintain their hegemony by staving off any serious challenges to the status quo with respect to the distribution of societal power. They establish and maintain their dominance in society by ensuring that the cultural capital and ideologies that best serve their interests are pre-eminent. This does not uphold the equality of citizenship.

  • 29 Bloomfield and Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance,” 105.

38Jude Bloomfield and Franco Bianchini state that “If the existence of multiple cultures is taken seriously, citizenship of a democratic state has to be detached from exclusive cultural belonging.”29 A democratic polity striving to ensure the greater distribution of social power would seek to facilitate more access to public discourses by all groups. To restate the central question for this chapter: how does a liberal democracy strive to broaden the access to social power that some citizens have in possessing specific kinds of cultural capital?

  • 30 One approach to deal with this problem is through what Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has termed “the (...)
  • 31 Bloomfield and Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance,” 103.

39First of all, governments need to be aware of the very important place of cultural competencies is in negotiating social power, and that the large stores of cultural capital that elite groups already possess enable them to maintain their place at the top of the pyramid. Those who do not have the cultural competencies to engage successfully in public are unable to participate optimally in the social, cultural, and economic sectors. If the cultural infrastructure of a society favours particular forms of cultural capital over others, it gives unequal advantages to specific groups who possess those types of cultural capital. Whereas it is impossible administratively to equalize all kinds of cultural capital in society (e.g., the choice of particular languages as official languages), it can seek to account for the barriers to fuller social participation that disadvantaged or marginalized groups face and work to develop policies that enable them to overcome such obstacles.30 Bloomfield and Bianchini talk about linking “sub-cultural capital”31 to the economy—capital and potential for creativity that would otherwise remain undervalued and wasted.

40They offer a number of policy proposals for strengthening citizenship participation opportunities in pluralist societies. Bloomfield and Bianchini are critical of what they call a “corporate multiculturalism” that suppresses internal differences within communities, which are pluralistic in themselves, to present an essentialized, unified identity to others. They support the acknowledgement of continued social evolution and the exchange of ideas between cultures.

  • 32 Ibid., 106.

41While all cultures which respect the rights of other cultures have a right to recognition, they cannot be shut off and denied the opportunity to interact with, and influence the mainstream, or be influenced in turn by other cultures. Cultural recognition must also offer opportunities to renew a culture as well as to preserve it. Otherwise it condemns minority cultures to the margins, in the defensive quest for purism, while depriving the mainstream culture of both the creative interaction and friction which generate innovation and cross-fertilization.32

  • 33 This is not the same form of “interculturalism” as that in Quebec, where the dominant culture posi (...)

42They propose an “inter-culturalism”33 which facilitates exchanges between various groups as well as a means of interpreting one’s own and others’ cultures. This de-centred approach allows for creative dialogue and dialectics in multiple directions and levels. It requires acts of courage from the mainstream as well as minority groups.

43The intersecting of sphericules in this manner enables the learning of newer cultural competencies and the gathering of cultural capital that would otherwise be closed to particular individuals due to their social backgrounds. It leads to vibrant forms of participation in society and to enhanced creativity and innovation, drawing from various forms of thinking and conceptualizing the world. The non-recognition of the educational qualifications of immigrants is only the overt form of suppressing such potential; people from many backgrounds are not integrated into the public sphere because they are seen as not having a broader range of the “right” competencies.

  • 34 Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994).
  • 35 Bloomfield and Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance,” 106-08.

44Homi Bhabha34 has pointed out that the liminal space that a new immigrant occupies in between the old and the new countries can be an extremely innovative place. Living in this “third space,” a number of Canadians of recent immigrant origins have won artistic acclaim; for example, filmmaker Atom Egoyan, designer Tu Ly, and novelists Michael Ondaatje, Moez Vassanji, Rohinton Mistry, and Cyril Dabydeen. Their homelessness seems to produce a highly creative state of mind and production that puts them in the ranks of the avant-garde, indeed at the cutting edge of modernity. They demonstrate the possibility of developing hybrid cultural capital that is cosmopolitan, derived from questions they ask in trying to make sense of struggle at the border between at least two worldviews. The cultural competencies that they offer are seen as rising far beyond the traditional notion of the marginal “ethnic.” Bloomfield and Bianchini insist that these competencies exist much more widely than just among the cultural elite because the intensified flow of people, goods, and images encourages the emergence of hybrid forms of perception and expression.35

45They see certain cities in Europe as having been more successful than national governments in engaging with plurality in cultural competencies and capital. Key to their proposals for revitalizing cultural citizenship is a reconceptualization of cultural policy.

  • 36 Ibid., 120. The authors indicate that these ideas draw from Colin Mercer, “Brisbane’s Cultural Dev (...)

46Such as strategy would audit and deploy all the cultural resources of the city, from physical layout and design, its architectural and industrial heritage, local craft traditions, skill pools, arts, to the public spaces, educational and cultural institutions, tourist attractions and images of the city which the interaction of myths, conventional wisdom, cultural and media representations produce. It would cut across the divides between the voluntary, public and private sectors, different institutional concerns, and different professional disciplines.36

  • 37 David Theo Goldberg, Multiculturalism: A Critical Reader (Cambridge, MA Basil Blackwell, 1994), 1- (...)

47This form of urban cultural planning would lead to the creation of physical spaces enabling an inter-culturalism that would harness the participation and revitalize the citizenship of youth and other marginalized groups. David Theo Goldberg37 also suggests the establishment of spaces where institutions may negotiate relationships between dominant and subordinate groups, thereby allowing for the kinds of civic participation that are denied under the concept of a monolithic public sphere.

  • 38 Bloomfield and Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance,” 108.

48The notion of “ghetto” is exactly the opposite of what these theorists are suggesting: increasing opportunities in public spaces for individuals from different backgrounds to interact with each other produces the kinds of cultural capital that leads to meaningful citizenship for larger numbers of people. However, they are not promoting the assimilation of cultural minorities into the majority. Bloomfield and Bianchi find cultural identity helps to self-organize and educate for effective citizenship through cultural representation and assertion of cultural rights.38 The sphericules, therefore, have necessarily to intersect with each other and with the larger public sphere to reduce possibilities for marginalization.

49Such intersections can also take place in media spaces. Canadian legislation requires broadcasters to reflect the multicultural nature of the country’s population in its programming. Mainstream television and radio producers attempt to fulfill this obligation by ensuring that members of on-air staff are drawn from diverse racial backgrounds. However, the cultural contexts they necessarily operate in are those of dominant groups. The cultural competencies and capital they possess from membership in specific social groups is suppressed; for example, broadcast personalities from minority ethnic backgrounds occasionally do this even to the extent of anglicizing the pronunciation of their own names.

  • 39 chin has expressed an interest in acquiring broadcasting licenses for radio stations for which suc (...)

50Some ethnic media offer an alternative model in which issues are discussed in an official language of the country but from varying cultural positions; for example, programming in omni tv, city tv, and chin radio in Ontario includes English-language slots that discuss a variety of topics from a diversity of cultural perspectives.39 Cultural capital of various forms is valorized here and presented to a broad plurality of audiences who choose to tune in, not just the members of a particular linguistic or ethnic community. The cultural citizenship of those who participate in such productions is enhanced through broad-based exposure, as are the cultural competencies of their audiences. This is very different from the bulk of traditional ethnic media content, which is generally unable to speak to anyone beyond the respective sphericules for whom their material is designed.

Conclusion

51Bourdieu’s work addresses only a small part of the cultural capital that human beings hold. This chapter has sought to inquire into some of the other ways in which individuals are dependent on cultural capital to have a place in society. Cultural capital determines the dynamics of power. It is also key to understanding the exercise of citizenship since it gives the individual the wherewithal to participate effectively in society. A person’s cultural capital includes the skill sets that enable her to function effectively in situations which include the most mundane and the most sophisticated interactions with other people. The types of cultural competencies that one has acquired through socialization help determine the access one has to various areas of social life. They necessarily have to be taken into account when developing policies that seek to promote the equality of participation.

52Whereas full citizenship remains an elusive ideal, it is necessary for policy-makers to understand the function of cultural competencies in ensuring access to various sectors. Participation in social, cultural, economic, or political activities meant for all citizens often have barriers that are invisible from dominant perspectives. Varying degrees of competency mean more access to public resources for those who have the cultural know-how to take greater advantage of government programs. Cultural policy research needs, therefore, to study the obstacles to citizenship that are the result of differential cultural competencies. Whereas the material aspects of cultural production are more easily analyzed using quantitative methodologies, this intangible (yet real) form of cultural capital can be more readily understood through qualitative approaches. Cultural anthropology, particularly ethnography, offers significant scope in providing the information to comprehend the inequalities caused by certain well-meaning efforts to make accessible social goods to disadvantaged groups. Sociological methodologies such as symbolic interactionism can also be useful in providing clues to grasp better how certain kinds of social exchanges that take place between individuals with differing social backgrounds serve to entrench inequity.

53Intercultural policies that enable productive interactions between people differentiated not only by race, ethnicity, or language but also by gender, age, class, physical/mental ability, sexual orientation, etc., would provide for a richer society. One learns cultural competencies through contacts with others. It stands to reason that the cultural capital of individuals and of society grows as various sphericules intersect with each other. The potential for the exercise for citizenship in all sectors grows as citizens become familiar with sociability skills pertaining to an increasing number of situations. This also provides their creativity and innovation more arenas for expression, thus potentially benefiting larger numbers of people.

54As globalizing tendencies demand broader ranges of cultural competencies, cultural policies of national governments have to account for transnational contexts. On the one hand, policy-makers have to ensure that the cultural products from abroad do not cause economic and social harm to their country. On the other, governments in liberal democracies, apart from having to adhere to international trade agreements and protocols, do not want their populations to be isolated from the rest of the world. Cultural protectionism has become an increasingly unattractive option for governments seeking to prevent this isolation.

  • 40 Other sources of interest include Arjun Appadurai, “Spectral Housing and Urban Cleansing: Notes on (...)

55More interesting possibilities, perhaps, are contained in the notion of cosmopolitanism, to which I have briefly referred. It provides an opportunity for innovative engagements with emerging domestic and global situations. Embracing outlooks that incorporate multi-dimensional cultural scenarios that often are the norm under globalization, enables populations to gain wider ranges of cultural competencies that are becoming necessary to operate effectively in the transnational contexts interlaced with human, cultural, and technological flows. The learning of such competencies also enables individuals to engage with the multi-level pluralism of domestic societies described in this chapter. A seamless cosmopolitanism that traverses national and transnational milieus can serve to enhance cultural citizenship and enhance fuller participation in society by those who seek it. Working within such an untraditional approach, however, will require extraordinary vision and courage on the part of twenty-first-century governments and policy-makers.40

Notes

1 M. Sharon Jeannotte, “Just Showing Up: Social and Cultural Capital in Everyday Life,” chap. 9 in this volume.

2 Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of Taste (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984).

3 Ibid., 12.

4 Edward T. Hall’s influential work, The Silent Language (1973), demonstrated how the unspoken interactions of human relationships serve to construct social structures that shape the life of a society.

5 Nick Crossley, “Citizenship, Intersubjectivity and Lifeworld,” in Nick Stevenson, ed., Culture and Citizenship (London: Sage, 2001), 38.

6 Jim McGuigan, “Three Discourses of Cultural Policy,” in Stevenson, Culture and Citizenship, 124-37.

7 Derek Heater, What is Citizenship? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), 87.

8 Karim H. Karim, “Relocating The Nexus Of Citizenship, Heritage and Technology,” Journal of the European Institute for Communication and Culture: Javnost—The Public 4, no. 4 (1997): 82-83.

9 Bryan S. Turner, “Outline of a General Theory of Cultural Citizenship,” in Stevenson, Culture and Citizenship, 12.

10 Crossley, “Citizenship, Intersubjectivity and Lifeworld.”

11 Bourdieu, Distinction, 2.

12 Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959).

13 Whereas the concept of “race” rests on contested ground, it is presented here as it is conceived of in dominant social contexts. See Michael Banton, Racial Theories (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

14 C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956).

15 For discussions of Canadian cultural terminology and their implications for inclusion and exclusion see Karim H. Karim, “Public Sphere and Public Sphericules: Civic Discourse in Ethnic Media,” in Sherry Ferguson and Leslie Regan Shade, eds., Civic Discourse and Cultural Politics in Canada (Westport, CT: Ablex, 2002), 230-42; Karim H. Karim, “Reconstructing the Multicultural Community: Discursive Strategies of Inclusion and Exclusion,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 7, no. 2 (1993): 189-207.

16 I distinguish the national, dominant, or mainstream public sphere from what Todd Gitlin calls “public sphericules,” which are discussed later in the chapter. Todd Gitlin, “Public Sphere or Public Sphericules?,” in Tamar Liebes and James Curran, eds., Media, Ritual and Identity (London: Routledge, 1993), 173.

17 A major exception to this appears to be former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who seemed from time to time to have difficulty expressing himself clearly in either French or English; however, his other cultural competencies enabled him to develop compensating strategies of sociability that endeared him to large numbers of Canadians during his tenure.

18 Many have turned to the works of people like Dale Carnegie and others in the burgeoning self-help industry to learn the social skills that will help them interact more successfully with various situations. However, the courses and materials of this industry cannot possibly cover all of the possible contexts that exist in society.

19 Jude Bloomfield and Franco Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance in Western Europe,” in Stevenson, Culture and Citizenship, 118.

20 Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory, Lewis A. Coser trans., (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992); Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

21 This is not to imply that the interpretations of all members of dominant groups are uniformly similar.

22 “Civic Square was Brimming,” The Clarion (Feb. 9, 1993).

23 Sigmund Freud, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, James Strachey trans. (New York: Penguin, 1976).

24 Karim, “Public Sphere and Public Sphericules.”

25 Charles Husband, “Differentiated Citizenship and the Multi-Ethnic Public Sphere,” Journal of International Communication 5, no. 1 (1998): 134-48.

26 Karim, “Public Sphere and Public Sphericules.”

27 Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Thomas Burger, trans. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989).

28 Karim, “Public Sphere and Public Sphericules.”

29 Bloomfield and Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance,” 105.

30 One approach to deal with this problem is through what Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has termed “the capabilities approach.” See Karim H. Karim, “Participatory Citizenship and the Internet: Refraining Access Within the Capabilities Approach,” Journal of International Communication 6, no. 1 (1999), 57-68.

31 Bloomfield and Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance,” 103.

32 Ibid., 106.

33 This is not the same form of “interculturalism” as that in Quebec, where the dominant culture positions itself as implicitly hegemonic vis-à-vis all others.

34 Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994).

35 Bloomfield and Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance,” 106-08.

36 Ibid., 120. The authors indicate that these ideas draw from Colin Mercer, “Brisbane’s Cultural Development Strategy: The Process, the Politics and the Products” (prepared for EIT, The Cultural Planning Conference, Mornington, Victoria, Australia, 1991).

37 David Theo Goldberg, Multiculturalism: A Critical Reader (Cambridge, MA Basil Blackwell, 1994), 1-41.

38 Bloomfield and Bianchini, “Cultural Citizenship and Urban Governance,” 108.

39 chin has expressed an interest in acquiring broadcasting licenses for radio stations for which such programming would be the mainstay.

40 Other sources of interest include Arjun Appadurai, “Spectral Housing and Urban Cleansing: Notes on Millennial Mumbai,” in Carol A. Breckenridge, Sheldon Pollack, Homi K. Bhabha, and Dipesh Chakrabarty, eds., Cosmopolitanism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), 54-81; Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996); Engin F. Isin and Patricia K. Wood, Citizenship and Identity (London: Sage, 1999); Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1973); Derek Heater, World Citizenship (London: Continuum, 2002); David Held, Democracy and the Global Order: From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995); Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Lopes of Transnationality (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999); Maurice Roche, “Citizenship, Popular Culture and Europe,” in Stevenson, Culture and Citizenship, 74-98.

Auteur

An associate professor at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. He is currently a visiting scholar at Harvard University (2004-05), and is leading an international project on intellectual debates among Muslims. He has published internationally on issues of culture and citizenship. He is editor of The Media of Diaspora (2003) and author of the award-winning and critically-acclaimed Islamic Peril: Media and Global Violence (2000). Prior to July of 1998 he was a senior researcher at the Department of Canadian Heritage and chaired the Federal Digitization Task Force’s Access Policy Group. He attended Columbia and McGill universities

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