The Symbolic Dimension of Inequalities
Luis Reygadas – 2015
This paper explores how inequalities are produced, re-produced and contested through symbolic processes. The symbolic dimension of inequalities has been generally neglected; culture has been often viewed as a category less important than economy in the research on disparities. Sometimes culture is reduced to a legitimizing function of preexistent inequalities that were generated elsewhere (in the markets or as a consequence of public policies). In the standard view, it is as if only economics and politics are truly important for inequality, while culture is assigned only a secondary role. By contrast, I identify fivesymbolic processes that are key for the generation of inequalities and therefore could be also fundamental in efforts to reduce social asymmetries: (1) classification,categorization and creation of boundaries; (2) valuation, de-valuation and re-valuation; (3) relations between differences and inequalities; (4) production, acquisition and distribution of symbolic capital and (5) struggles over the legitimacy of inequalities.