Do search engines make cultural capital less valuable? 

A student of mine said something last week that gave me déjà vu. We completed our lessons on “social class” and the student was having difficulty with the notion of cultural capital.

In class, waving an iPhone in the air, s/he said:

“Why would anybody need to know this when you have the whole world’s knowledge in your pocket?”

The student was referring to the ability to command cultural knowledge (i.e., cultural capital).

Reminded me of this immediately: And a student said “Ah, so like, people with cultural capital don’t need Google…ohhhh, I get it”

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3 thoughts on “Do search engines make cultural capital less valuable? 

  1. certainly could make it harder to grasp, yet another case perhaps of con-fusing knowing about with knowing how?
    Reminds me of another tangent I’ve been thinking of in relation to how better engineering/interface tends to make invisible how one is being framed/channeled.
    Sort of the reverse of Heidegger on broken tools and anxiety.
    We need to hack open the black boxes for the kids.
    do you know of these folks: https://www.ifixit.com/

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    • That’s a great point. As Bourdieu tells us, if you go the autodidactic route (learn it all yourself) with cultural capital, then the individual who does ends-up emphasizing their extensive knowledge rather than extended experiences with culturally relevant practices, styles, etc. On the other hand, those folks who have a “secondary inheritance” having learned cultural capital slowly over a lifetime will have accumulated experiences that may or may not amount to a deep knowledge-base. The difference is, according to some, the autodidact may be insecure in their experience and attempt to orient discussion of cultural capital issues according to their extensive knowledge-based; the inverse is true too, slow, accumulated experiences from a culturally “rich” life over the years, concerns over a modest knowledge deficit may go ostensibly unnoticed.

      Ergo, if we move to the “google” route — you can immediately gather information about, for example, a wine — does that really imply very much? (other than that in a previous time you would have had to rely on your wine store operator or a deep personal knowledge accumulated over time) Hence, you good point about “knowing about” versus “knowing how” … still, there are plenty of “tutorials” on-line that can walk you through how to pour, drink, age wines, for example.

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