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Family transmission of social and cultural capital

Families have differential access to social and cultural capital, and also make differing decisions regarding investment in children. These forces have intergenerational consequences. Capital resources diffuse more finely in larger families, and combinations of social and cultural resources may either exacerbate or ameliorate inequality. There is support for this model not only in the United States, but also more globally. Both social and cultural capital boost academic achievement; both forms of capital reduce the likelihood of behavior problems and/or delinquency. Parents influence the educational resources that children can access beginning with verbal interaction at home and continuing with their construction of children's home environments, their choices of household location, and parental work schedules. These and related processes are class bound and reproduce inequality. We need more research to determine how social and cultural resources combine across the life course and whether and what interventions in family investment are effective.


Parcel, TL., & Hendrix, J. A. (2014). Family transmission of social and cultural capital. In J. Treas, J. Scott, & M. Richards (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell companion to the sociology of families (pp. 361-381). West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118374085.ch18