ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Deploying Cultural, Social and Emotional Capital

The Case of Anglo-Indian Women Employed in Private Schools in Bengaluru

This paper examines the experiences of Anglo-Indian women teaching in Bengaluru’s English medium private schools to understand how they negotiate professional constraints by drawing on Diane Reay’s feminist extension of Pierre Bourdieu’s “forms of capital.” It argues that her concept of “emotional capital” can be used to explain how interviewees attempt to overcome their limited cultural and social capital. We also suggest that Arlie Hochschild’s notion of “emotional labour,” distinct from Reay’s emotional capital, when deployed alongside the latter, highlights the complex negotiations that interviewees undertake. In doing so, this work attempts to contribute a minority perspective to research on schoolteachers’ lives. In the process, it also seeks to extend emotional capital (a concept Reay deployed to explain mothers’ investment in their children) to understand women’s professional experiences.


The authors would like to convey their sincere thanks to colleagues at Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology for rich discussions on the challenges of teachers’ lives and to all the interviewees for their contribution to the authors’ research.

This paper is based on a study which examines the career narratives of serving and retired women teachers from the Anglo-Indian community who are employed in Bengaluru’s English medium private schools. Drawing on feminist extensions of Pierre Bourdieu’s (1984) work, it aims to understand how teachers deploy different forms of capital to negotiate employment challenges. Bourdieu argues against a purely economistic explanation of social inequality, claiming that any examination of class inequality needs to consider the reproduction of cultural and social capital in addition to economic capital. He contends that individuals and families attempt to convert one form of capital into another, that is, economic capital is exchanged for cultural capital, or social capital is mobilised to create economic capital.

Diane Reay (2000, 2004) attempted to “gender” Bourdieu’s theory by introducing the concept of emotional capital, which is primarily created and deployed by women within families. This paper argues that emotional capital can also be deployed in the workplace. In addition, it draws on an earlier concept developed by Arlie Hochschild (1983), “emotional labour,” which is used to explain gendered experiences at the workplace. Although Reay and Hochschild developed their concepts independently, this paper suggests that the two can be employed together to understand teachers’ work. Thus, it aims to extend the literature on non-economic forms of capital while also answering a call for teachers’ experiences to be represented in education research and policy (Batra 2005).

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Updated On : 31st Jul, 2021
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