Capital. We’ve all got it to some degree in all its forms.
Our economic capital is, briefly, the money, property and human resources (or our ability to work) we have available to us in order to accumulate and produce more wealth. There are complex mathematical instruments to do this, but my personal economic capital is so low such an exercise would only bum me out.
Cultural capital is the non-financial assets we possess – our education or intellect, for example – that provide us with the opportunity to advance socially. Basically, it is what we have to make us look good when we’re broke.
Finally, social capital is a fuzzy concept that basically boils down to our social contacts. Who do you know? That’s an asset.
Those are the big three capitals. It’s what you’ve got to work with and make your life into something — use your money, your education and your networks and you can become a success. Sure we have them in differing amounts, but don’t think that a whole whack of money can’t overcome an educational deficiency.
That was the common belief. Recently, however, there has been talk about a fourth capital — your erotic capital.
Recently, Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, has caused a controversy with her claims that one’s erotic capital might be more important to one’s career than something so minor as say, an education.
According to Hakim:
All in all, good-looking people can earn 10-15 per cent more than the average-looking, who in turn can earn 10-15 per cent more than the plain.
At first blush, it seems to make sense. Those that seems to rake in the millions tend to be good looking, right? But not always. There are some people that just aren’t that attractive. At least, not physically.
According to Wikipedia, which has been updated with Hakim’s research, erotic capital is derived from six (or seven) elements:
1) beauty; 2) sexual attractiveness; 3) social attractiveness; 4) vivaciousness; 5) presentation; 6) sexuality; 7) fertility
Unfortunately, the Wikipedia entry doesn’t define each of these elements. (Not that I need “fertility” explained to me, but I would like to know the difference between say “beauty” and “presentation” or “sexuality” and “sexual attractiveness”.)
Hakim’s research was presented in an issue of European Sociological Review — not the kind of magazine you’re likely to find in your dentist’s office or on the rack at the drug store. Luckily for you, I am associated with an educational institution that allows me access to such light reading material (I found it wedged between “European Social Policy” and “European Spine Journal”).
Like most, if not all, scientific journal articles, “Erotic Capital” takes what could be a titillating subject and makes it…well, boring. So instead of summarizing a dry academic paper, I instead offer a more readable article by Prospect magazine.
In short, I ask: what’s your erotic capital stock?