Department for International Development (DFID) presented the different type of assets on the form of Pentagon which consists five capital assets; natural capital, social capital, human capital, physical capital, and financial capital (Carney, 1998). My critical thought about this pentagon of capital assets is: where is the cultural capital? Why doesn’t it count by DFID? Is cultural capital not a type of assets? I believe that culture is one of the essential parts of a social and ecological system, particularly for rural livelihood, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. Culture is something embedded in the community and individuals that transferred among generations and shaping their continuous-identity (beliefs, values, norms, religion, traditions, etc.). When this inter-generations history and identity connected to the material resources, it may provide essential livelihood option and create human activities in the specific areas for a long period.
In Indonesia, for instance, some livelihood practices (paddy farming) are related to a culture which embodied in religious beliefs and local traditions. “Devi Sri” is well-known as a goddess of rice and fertility in most of the peasant’s community in Java and Bali island and still worshipped in that places. This kind of belief generates some specific feelings and emotion to their livelihood practices that supposed to be incorporated into the framework. Ignoring cultural assets of people will mislead the program or development itself. Although, there is a tension between the older generation, who are practicing that traditional knowledge and the recent generation who abandoned that such of practices (Gilles, 2013), the importance of culture as a local asset is still important and should be considered by the rural livelihood investigators or practitioners. Cultural capital is also essential for deriving some creative livelihood practices that support the connectivity between the past and the future (cultural hub) towards sustainable community livelihood and resilience (Daskon & McGregor, 2012).
However, it is also somewhat confusing within the definition of Cultural capital itself. Is that true that cultural capital is different from “human capital” and “social capital.”? Or it the same things with different terminology? According to Throsby (1999), traditional economist usually uses three forms of capital: physical capital, human capital, and natural capital. All of them inserted in DFID’s Pentagon (framework of sustainable rural livelihood/SRL) but, unfortunately, it can keep our analysis in the economic per se rather than covering broader social, institutional, and cultural dimensions (Scoones, 2009). Throsby argues that we need to recognize the fourth capital called cultural capital as a different category. He defines cultural capital as “an asset that contributes to cultural value or cultural valued embodied in an asset”, both may tangible or intangible form. Tangible assets in cultural capital may appear in cultural heritage such as structures, sites, building, or locations with historical and cultural significance. Intangible assets may exist in the stock of artworks or public goods and services such as literature, music, and another set of traditions, beliefs, and values which bind and ties together a group of people in the particular places. All those cultural assets usually used or embedded in the creation of other economic activities (good and services) such as in tourism or advertisement, which also generates economic values.
Figure 1. Transformation of the pentagon to the hexagon of Capital Assets
Carney, Diana. 1998. Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: What contributions can we make? Department for International Development
Daskon, Chandima & Andrew McGregor. 2012. Cultural Capital and Sustainable Livelihoods in Sri Lanka’s Rural Villages: Towards Culturally Aware Development. Journal of Development Studies, Col 48. 549-563
Ellis, Frank. 2000. Rural Livelihood and Diversity in Developing Countries. Oxford: New York
Gilles, Jere L, et al. 2013. Laggards or Leaders: Conservers of Traditional Agricultural Knowledge in Bolivia. Rural Sociology 78(1), 2013, pp. 51-74
Scoones, Ian. 2009. Livelihoods perspectives and rural development. Journal of Peasant Studies, vol 36, No 1.
Throsby, David. 1999. Cultural Capital. Journal of Cultural Economics, 23, 3-12