Socioeconomic Status, Bourdieu’s Capitals and Higher Education Attainment

  • Summer Juliet Cowley OISE, University of Toronto


Attaining a degree from a higher education institution has the potential to positively affect students’ career outcomes and to enable their social mobility through the acquisition of powerful social and cultural capitals in the form of social relationships and credentials. However, the path to acquisition of these capitals varies between individuals from different demographic backgrounds. Through unequal access to and participation in various K-12 schooling and extracurricular activities, students gain powerful social and cultural capital at unequal rates leading up to the transition from secondary to post-secondary schooling. Through gaining different capitals via early schooling experiences, students engage with higher education in ways that are stratified by socioeconomic status.

Author Biography

Summer Juliet Cowley, OISE, University of Toronto

PhD Student 

Higher Education

Ontario Institue for Studies in Education


How to Cite
Cowley, S. J. (2020). Socioeconomic Status, Bourdieu’s Capitals and Higher Education Attainment. Emerging Perspectives: Interdisciplinary Graduate Research in Education and Psychology, 4(2), 51-66. Retrieved from