How have the key agents changed in the fashion field?
With regards to digital media, key agents have remained more or less the same in the field. Identified as established players by Bourdieu, they get to “compete for specific kinds of capital” defined as social, symbolic, cultural and economic capital. Social capital, for example, refers to the connection of an agent to others within a field and the amounts of essential contacts one holds, whereas symbolic capital refers to the way “an agent is recognized or perceived by others in their field.” Moreover, cultural capital refers to “a form of value associated with culturally authorized tastes” closely intertwined with the embodied tastes and skills of an agent as well as his academic background. Finally, economic capital is mainly associated with financial assets, such as possessing certain valuable goods.
How and what kind of capital is determined by the field and its individuals, “established players and newcomers who fight for the power to define what can be acknowledged as a legitimate practice, aesthetic, taste or norm.” Each of those capitals can be exchanged for another, e.g., paying tuition fees to achieve a degree resembles an exchange of economic capital for cultural capital, while cultural capital can be exchanged for a profession or a job in society. Depending on the type of education, as Bourdieu observes, individuals from different educational backgrounds are grouped accordingly, leading to social and class distinctions. This form of grouping is evident through fashion journalists and editors, who can be seen as one group; hence, possessing a journalism degree is not necessarily essential to enter the field.