Rural Indonesian Youths’ Conceptions of Success
Pierre Bourdieu is a preeminent Northern theorist whose concepts and ideas have been applied extensively in global youth studies. Yet Bourdieu has been critiqued for his assumptions of cultural homogeneity and failure to include local voices in his theory making. Therefore, the question arises: Are Bourdieu’s concepts still useful for research in the Global South? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in a remote Indonesian village (Ngadas), this essay interrogates Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capitals in explaining young people’s conceptions of ‘success.’ In contrast to acquisition of capital for individual distinction and competitive advantage, Ngadas youth accumulate capital in order to maintain collective harmony and sustain a gift-giving cycle (guyub rukun). This study presents an expanded understanding of capital as a collective endeavor which challenges narrow interpretations of Bourdieu in the context of Southern youth studies and suggests the need for more contextually nuanced usage of his theories. It is central to the merging theory of navigational capacities which draws on Bourdieu’s notion of capitals but places emphasis on the collective nature of these capitals.