Cardiff Metropolitan University
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How Capital generates capitals in English elite private schools: Charities, tax and accounting

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-24, 13:51 authored by Malcolm James, Rebecca Boden, Jane Kenway
The sociological literature on elite private schooling is frequently informed by Bourdieu’s signature concepts of cultural, social and symbolic capital. Yet, his insistence that economic capital is the ‘root’ of these other capitals is often overlooked or downplayed. This paper addresses this lacuna. While it gestures to Bourdieu’s other capitals, its primary focus is on finance itself and the various legal and accounting regimes that facilitate schools’ financial capital acquisition, accumulation and conversion into other individual and organisational capitals. We interrogate these schools’ income-generating and spending strategies on fees, infrastructure and scholarships, explicating how charity law, tax regimes, and accounting rules work to their advantage. In so doing we demonstrate how ambiguous law and accounting regimes enable them to produce exclusivity through pricing and luxury infrastructure. In short, we show how elite private schools in England keep fees high, scholarships low and luxury pervasive.


Published in

British Journal of Sociology of Education


Taylor and Francis

Publication Year



  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


James, M., Boden, R. and Kenway, J., 2022. How Capital generates capitals in English elite private schools: Charities, tax and accounting. British Journal of Sociology of Education, pp.1-20.

Print ISSN


Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Management

Cardiff Met Authors

Malcolm James

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Welsh Centre for Business and Management Research

Copyright Holder

  • © The Publisher


  • en