Bourdieu's social theory and sustainability: What is 'environmental capital'?

Year: 2004

Author: Karol, Justin, Gale, Trevor

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Drawing on the social theory of Bourdieu, this paper introduces the concept of 'environmental capital', which is theorised as particular ways of understanding and relating with the world's environment, and with the potential to inform a habitus of sustainability. The extent to which such capital relates to and is convertible with other capitals is also theorised. In particular, it is argued that environmental capital is undervalued in the current schooling 'stakes' and that its revaluing requires pedagogical work on the habitus of teachers and, by extension, students, in order to transform their dispositions in more environmentally sustainable ways. The cultural field upon which this paper concentrates is the education of pre-service teachers, with the intent to influence their future pedagogic work by demonstrating the value of sustainable pedagogic actions. It is argued that educators and education practices need to be informed by a habitus of sustainability and, similarly, that if students are denied access to environmental capital from the very first years of schooling, the collective habitus required to create a sustainable world may never eventuate.