International Journal of Art & Design Education

Investigating the Role of Cultural Capital and Organisational Habitus in Architectural Education: A Case Study Approach (pages 9–24)

Volume 34.1   2015



Compared to other professions in recent years, architecture has lagged woefully behind in attracting and retaining a diverse population, as defined by class, race and gender. This research investigates the extent to which architecture culturally reproduces itself, specifically examining the socialisation process of students into the subculture of architecture during formal education. The work of French sociologist and anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu, who has written extensively on the subject of socialisation in education, serves as a theoretical framework for this research. Specifically, two factors are examined in this study: a student's level of cultural capital and the organisational habitus of the architecture programme. Using a comparative case study research strategy of two US schools of architecture, both quantitative and qualitative tactics are employed to provide a rich description of architecture students' and faculties' experiences. Building upon cultural reproduction and cultural mobility theories, findings from this research present a more nuanced understanding of students' backgrounds, beyond the typical dichotomous definition of high vs low cultural capital. Recommendations are made for architectural education to consider meaningful curricular reform in an effort to attract and engage a more diverse student population.