Cultural Capital

Cultural capital is the economic, social and environmental wealth created by the myths, values, ideologies and rituals that characterise a collective of people, whether that collective is ethnic, disability, industry or community based.


While it is hoped that the wealth is a positive component, it is acknowledged that some behaviours associated with cultures and cultural well-being can destroy wealth and have a negative affect on economic, social and environmental well-being.

“The term cultural capital is used because, like money, our cultural inheritance can be translated into social resources (things like wealth, power and status) and the cultural capital we accumulate from birth can be “spent” in education systems as we try to achieve things that are considered to be culturally important”

So to help understand these the following definitions also help:

  ‘..culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs[1]. (UNESCO 2001)

Well-being  …good health, happiness, and prosperity; the state of being healthy, happy and prosperous[2]”   Although we would replace the word prosperity’ or ‘prosperous’ with ‘comfort’, as we  convinced now that bring prosperous is not absolutely necessary for well-being, but comfort certainly is.

‘Cultural capital is an important aspect of social capital and social capital is an expression of cultural capital in practice. Social capital is based on and grows from the norms, values, networks and ways of operating that are the core of cultural capital[3]

To discuss this theory either download the articles and books below or email


Eames. PS (2005) Cultural Well-being and Cultural Capital     Down load book   Cultural Well-being Cultural Capital


This paper: ‘Transforming Economies by Building Cultural Capital, Recognising, developing and setting up creative dynamics that can transform economies‘ was presented at the World Summit on Arts and Culture as a show case session 16 June 2006 in Newcastle England.

Download that speech here   World Summit Paper on Cultural Capital

Other speeches by Penny Eames go to

[1] UNESCO 2001) Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. P2

[2] Deverson, T. (2002) The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary

[3] Robinson D, Williams T. (Dec 2001)  Social capital and Voluntary Activity:  Giving and sharing in Maori and non Maori Society.  Social Policy Journal of New Zealand Issue 17:p55