Nov 8, 2017 in Sociology

Community Culture Wealth Theory

Introduction

Community cultural wealth theory is informed by practical research that has been conducted on communities that are marginalized such as those of color. It is a theory by Yosso primarily focused on communities of color’s wealth. Its main focus is on the resources and values that such communities cultivate which influences their social mobility and persistence. These resources have been continuously overlooked as a lot of research is mainly focused on cultural capital and its traditional notions.  Cultural capital though being essential in privileges, social mobility and understanding power is most of the times applied in a way that shows the marginalized communities as deficient.  This paper seeks to discuss the basic tenets and structures of the theoretical framework.

According to Yosso (2007), marginalized communities have six types of community cultural wealth (CCW). These are the knowledge, abilities and skills that they nurture and which influence social mobility and persistence even when they are faced with serious obstacles (Wells, 2008). The types of CCW which include Aspirational capital, familial, Navigational, linguistic and social capitals are fluid and not static. A community may not have all these types but if needed, they are created to be protective measures especially in the face of basic things such as inability to access quality education, social and health services.  

Marginalized groups make use of the Resistant Capital to challenge any subordination and inequities. For example, there are stereotypes that people of color generally lack an interest in education, lack intelligence and motivation to study hard. When they are faced with such stereotypes they are able to resist such notions and instead focus on their studies. This could be the reason why some excel. Such people refuse to believe they are failures. A drop out would for example resist that he is a failure because of this capital. They would instead opt to assert that they are not passive and actively oppose the stereotype that involves them. Resistant capital basically refers to all the skills and the knowledge that is fostered through behavior that challenges inequality.

Linguistic capital is ability to pass information in different styles or languages. It refers to social and intellectual skills obtained from communicating in more than style and different languages. Racialized communities have a rich linguistic capital and a cultural history as well. Students of color for example have been found to have multiple communication and language skills. They often get involved in storytelling and recounting their histories orally. This capital is often overlooked in the society and in learning institutions such as schools. Many communities of color are talented in music, visual arts and writing.

Young adults from communities of color use Navigational capital to go through institutions that were probably not put up to accommodate them or were not meant to accommodate people of color. In a way, this capital is used by such people to maneuver through such institutions. A student from such communities for example, can go through universities that are racially hostile and achieve their dreams. This is despite having to face difficulties which may lead to poor performance and them being drop outs (Dixson, 2006).

Yosso (2007), describes social capital as an important aspect in marginalized groups. It refers to the resources that the community has as well as the networks. Networks and contacts are what enable people of color to navigate their way through institutions. The peer contacts give them both emotional and instrumental support. A marginalized student for example can use such contacts to attain scholarship through college. Such peers are the ones who encourage such students not to give up on their dreams. They offer emotional support when such students face stereotypes and problems such as racism. Marginalized communities have for a long time used this capital to gain education, employment, legal justice and even health care. When one person succeeds, they will always give back to the community by sharing information gathered. In these communities social network is highly valued. Contacts from people working in social services institutions, schools among other institutions are highly valued as these people provide individualized support to them.

The cultural knowledge, which is natured in a family, carries the community’s history, cultural intuition and memory is what is called familial capital. This cultural wealth connects the whole community for their well being creates a sense of commitment as well as belonging.  There are strong kinship ties between parents as well as members of the extended family. There are lessons on coping, caring, providing and surviving which help maintain a healthy connection and create consciousness between the community and the resources available. Consciousness can be informed through school, sports, religious and community gatherings among other settings. Marginalized communities try so hard to avoid isolation and strive to be together with people who have the same problems as them. Communal bonds help them escape solving problems alone. There is a general sense of care for members of marginalized groups. Most are generous to each other but this is rarely noticed as it is most of the time overshadowed by labels which have been given to such groups. Commitment to the various groups may take different styles and forms.

Aspirational capital is the ability to keep hope alive and dream of a better future even when faced with challenging situations. Children of color for example aspire to attain success despite facing racism and being denied education or healthcare. Their parents also allow them to dream big even when they themselves are struggling to meet basic needs. They aspire for big things for their families as well as their communities despite not having equal opportunities. Instead of being pushed aside, there should be an investment of resources to support the various types of capital that have been created the hard way.

Instructors for example should get rid of the stereotypes that they have created. They should be able to interact with such students due to the changing demographic trends. They could look for valuable opportunities in the learning curriculum to broaden the scope of such students. Educational beliefs are among the platforms on policies on education and practices are actually built on. As such, school-wide reform will, to a large extent, be hampered, if the educators still hold some assumptions and perceptions. Teachers, for example, who get to the profession with conclusions on the student’s abilities will obviously see less, expect less and obviously get less from such students (Dixson, 2006).

Conclusion

Research urges institutions of learning to embrace cultural and social capital that exists in marginalized communities. Yosso ( 2005), further critiques the notion in cultural capital that fails to recognize ‘community cultural wealth’. She notes that characteristics like resilience that are mostly found in people living in poverty or students of color and which they take to school should be accepted and built on. Research that has been done on students who are African Americans and results show that they both bring very distinct varieties of social capital to the class. They are different from the whites.

Though various forms capital are very important in navigating challenges but are most of the time overlooked. Community cultural wealth however is not able to single handedly guard against all the systemic or personal barriers.

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