What Determines Our Status in Society -- in Digital Times? New MCM Article in Computers in Human Behavior!

In the 1970s, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu offered an influential answer to this question: our status is shaped by the economic, social, and cultural capital we accumulate. His theory, cited nearly 200k times, remains a cornerstone in social science.

But that was nearly half a century ago. With digitalization transforming our world, is it time to add a new form of capital? A team of scholars from the Chair of Marketing & Media, in cooperation with Javier A. Rodríguez-Camacho, Assistant Professor from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana at Bogota, Colombia argue in a forthcoming paper in Computers in Human Behavior (Impact Factor: 9.9) that it is indeed. They introduce the concept of "Digital Capital," using a large, representative sample of the German population to back their claims. They also explore theoretically as well as empirically how to boost this new form of capital.

The journey of their paper might in this case be inspiring as well. It all started in early 2019 when Prof. Rodríguez-Camacho invited Prof. Thorsten Hennig-Thurau to present at Culmarts, a cultural economics conference he organized at his university in Bogota. Accepting his invitation was a pivotal decision for Prof. Hennig-Thurau, who discovered a shared enthusiasm not only for entertainment science in general, but also for Bourdieu's theory and its adequacy in digital times.

Their collaboration then deepened through virtual meetings in the metaverse, but also "real-world" meetings in Münster, with Prof. Rodríguez-Camacho visiting Münster and enlightening MCM students who attended the Entertainment Media lecture series. With massive contributions by the doctoral students Marc Linder and David Jütte, the international team pursued their ideas and demonstrated the need to update one of the most established social theories for the digital age.

Reflecting on this journey, it’s clear that the digital capital of everyone involved played a crucial role for being successful with this project in more than one way. So it is true: The journey indeed can be as rewarding as the destination.

A preprint of the accepted paper can be accessed via https://www.sciencedirect.com