Multicultural Capital in Middle Schooling

By Cristina Poyatos Matas and Susan M. Bridges.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper introduces the new notion of ‘multicultural capital’, drawing on economic theory and sociology to illuminate empirical data from middle schools. This paper identifies five types of capital (physical capital, human capital, natural capital, social capital, and cultural capital) from the literature. Further, the authors integrate these five types of capital with notions
of “culturally problematic” and “interculturally proactive” schools (Hickling Hudson, 2003) to assist the assessment of multicultural assets of schools. This qualitative, exploratory study reports three major findings. First, each school has its own unique multicultural capital and this influences whether a school can be described as “culturally problematic” or the degree to which it is “interculturally proactive”. Second, principals and teachers play an important role in the conceptualisation of a school’s multiculturalism. Third, analysis indicates that the multicultural capital of each school influences the pedagogic choices made thereby affecting how the school enacts what we see as a form of
multicultural education. Finally, the article acknowledges the study’s major limitation, which is the small size of the sample and its urban nature. Therefore further research is recommended to continue the discussion on multicultural capital initiated here.

Keywords: Multicultural Education, Capital, Middle Schooling

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.1-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 676.867KB).

A/Prof. Cristina Poyatos Matas

Senior Lecturer, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Dr Cristina Poyatos Matas migrated to Australia in 1991 from Spain. She completed her Bachelor (Hons) and Masters of Education with Honours in The University of Bristol (England). Her doctoral work in Australia in the area of applied linguistics received The University of Queensland Dean’s Commendation for Outstanding Research Higher Degree Thesis 2005. She teaches as a senior lecturer in Spanish Studies at Griffith University. In 2001 and 2002 she was a finalist for the prestigious Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) in the category of Humanities. In 2003 she became a HERDSA Fellow, and in 2006 she received a Carrick Institute Citation Award for her contribution to research supervision (Honours, Master and PhD). She has contributed to several research projects related to education, among them a Large ARC and a CAUT grant. Her research interests include Multicultural Education, Hispanic Communities in Queensland, Intercultural Communication, Grammar Teaching, and Higher Education Pedagogy. She contributed to writing the book Multicultural Queensland 2001, and has presented her research work in universities in Australia, France, Canada, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Spain, and USA. In 2007 she received the International Award for Excellence of the International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations with Susan Bridges for a paper on multicultural education.

Dr. Susan M. Bridges

Assistant Professor, The University of Hong, Hong Kong, China

Susan Bridges has taught in mainstream and higher education for the past 25 years. She is currently an Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Dentistry at The University of Hong Kong working in curriculum design and e-learning. Prior to this, she was a Research Fellow with the Faculty of Education at Griffith University. Her research focuses on pedagogy, cultural and linguistic diversity and interaction. In 2007, she was awarded the International Award for Excellence by the International Journal of Diversity for a paper with Cristina Poyatos Matas on multicultural education.


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