Cultural Capital, Critical Theory, And Motivation for Participation in Capoeira Angola

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This study addresses individual motivation for participation in the marginalized art form of Capoeira Angola (CA). CA is an internationally practiced Afro-Brazilian art form that includes song, instrument play, dance, spirituality, and play fighting. This study will explore whether CA students are motivated by a desire for symbolic achievement, as suggested by Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital, or a desire to impact society, as suggested by critical theory. Significantly, this study will explore whether critical theory or Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital can best explain motivation for participation in CA. Previous studies of marginalized art forms focus on the expression of the art form itself and frequently overlook the individual’s motivation to participate in the art form. In detailing the observable dimensions of marginalized art forms, existing research has failed to specifically address how participants create and define their perception of the art form, and to identify the factors that define individual choice to participate in the art form. By using a variety of qualitative procedures (participant observation, free lists, pile sorts, hierarchical cluster analysis, multi-dimensional scaling, cognitive mapping, and semi-structured interviews), this study seeks to gain insight into individual’s conception of CA and how it informs CA students’ motivation for participation. The combination of the distinct research methodologies constitutes an innovation in sociological research in that the added level of cognitive data analysis widens the use of theory and practice in sociological studies that examine cultural and artistic practices. The overall significance of this study lies in its contribution to an increased intellectual and political awareness concerning marginalized cultural and artistic practices. This study is relevant to contemporary social life in that it may increase our understanding of the role that these artistic practices potentially play in the genesis and persistence of social movements.


Keywords: Brazil, Afro-Brazilian, Cultural Practice, Artistic Practice, Qualitative Research Methods, Sociology of Art, Capoeira Angola, Marginalized Art Forms
Stream: Art and Education, Art in Communities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Ebony Custis

Graduate Assistant, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Howard University
Bowie, MD, USA

Ebony Custis graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida A & M University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Theatre. She received the university’s most prestigious full scholarship: the Life Gets Better Scholarship. Ms. Custis dedicated her undergraduate years to academic excellence, community service and campus involvement. Upon graduation, Ms. Custis had received numerous honors, including the Major Minor award from the Theatre department awarded to one student per academic year, a Non-Profit Leaders internship with The Washington Center, a semester of study abroad at the University of Ghana, two self published books of poetry, first prize in the College Language Association’s playwriting competition, and induction into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Ms. Custis’ professional career reflects her passion for arts and culture, program and event management, international travel, and foreign languages. For five months after graduation, Ms. Custis lived in Bahia, Brazil to study the language and culture of Afro-Brazilians. As a program development manager and grant writer, Ms. Custis planned cultural events for at-risk teenage girls. Currently, Ms. Custis is a full-time graduate student in Howard University’s department of Sociology and Anthropology.
Ms. Custis has been published in Abafazi: The Simmons College Journal of Women of African Descent, and the Baltimore Maryland newspaper Our Week News. Her research interests include ethnographic studies in Latin America, marginalized artistic and cultural practice, and literature of the African Diaspora.

Ref: A07P0053