Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2020

Department 1



Anthropologists have long been fascinated with how humans interact and connect with one another. In this research paper, I examine two twelve-step meetings - Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous - and their distinct group dynamics, asking how each facet of attendees' human capital foster those dynamics. I find that the accumulation, conversion and deployment of capital that I observed was much more nuanced in practice than human capital theorists such as Bourdieu and Putnam had indicated it would be. Although Al-Anon attendees had higher levels of economic and cultural capital, they struggled to cultivate much social capital. Inversely, while Alcoholics Anonymous attendees were operating with less economic and cultural capital, their social capital was robust and penetrated deeply. Further, I find members’ Habitus to be an important factor in determining group dynamics. Apart from its contribution to the exploration of structure and agency and the anthropology of addiction, this research also speaks to the way success and prosperity is measured in the world of recovery and beyond.


Written as a Senior Capstone in Anthropology.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.