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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Bourdieu, Pierre, 1930-2002, Neighborhoods-Economic aspects-Massachusetts-Northampton, Neighborhoods-Economic aspects-Massachusetts-Holyoke, Neighborhoods-Social aspects-Massachusetts-Northampton, Neighborhoods-Social aspects-Massachusetts-Holyoke, Economics-Sociological aspects, Symbolic capital, Sociology of place, Neighborhoods, Built environment


In this paper, I use Bourdieu's theories of social reproduction and practice to argue that the built environment of neighborhoods both objectively and subjectively structures daily life for families in ways that create and sustain social difference and inequality in various social fields. Drawing upon a variety of data including census data, interviews, cognitive maps, and questionnaires, I use the process by which families locate a place to live to argue that the built structure of cities can be understood as representative of social fields, and that one's ability to obtain a certain set of physical characteristics (which is dependent on their other capitals) shapes the categories that they use to understand and organize the social world. This dynamic interaction works to structure daily life for families in ways that produce a different set of practices, and shapes a family's habitus, or the embodied dispositions that arise from the internalization of structural position. Through this process, I argue that certain physical characteristics within the city become symbolic capital, and objects of struggle, through their acquisition of ubiquitous cultural value, as well as their ability to provide advantages through the shaping of practice and habitus.




208 pages : color illustrations, color maps. Honors Project-Smith College, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 157-173)