Bourdieusian Capital Conversion During Crises of Socio-Political Legitimacy: Sponsorship of the Arts by Barclays Bank, 1972 to 1987

Ian Geoffrey Jones*, Nicholas Wong, Marta Herrero, Andrew Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper advances our understanding of how organisations engage in the process of Bourdieusian capital conversion during crises of socio-political legitimacy. We do so by analysing the arts sponsorship strategies of Barclays between 1972 and 1987. During this period Barclays faced numerous challenges to its organizational legitimacy as a result of its continued dealings in apartheid South Africa and its ability to generate extraordinary profits despite general economic malaise in Britain. As a response, Barclays increased its sponsorship of the arts, exchanging its substantial economic capital for the symbolic capital associated with high-status arts institutions. We identify the forces that facilitated and inhibited these capital exchanges and how they affected Barclays’ sponsorship strategies. This paper will be of interest to Bourdieusian scholars interested in capital exchange, to business historians interested in banking in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s, and researchers interested in the evolution of corporate sponsorship and philanthropy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Early online date18 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Author(s).


  • Barclays bank
  • Bourdieu
  • arts sponsorship
  • socio-political legitimacy
  • corporate sponsorship
  • South Africa
  • Royal Shakespeare Company

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