Critically examining the debate about multiculturalism and higher education, this paper argues for the continuing relevance of theories of reproduction in understanding the relation between culture and economy under contemporary capitalism. The argument is developed via a case study of regular and remedial writing programs at an urban university. Drawing on archival, ethnographic, and sociolinguistic data, the study analyzes commonalities in the programs, exploring the role of gender in program history, the pedagogical problem of difference, and program-wide tendencies towards centralization and fragmentation. It then analyzes differences in the programs, exploring how student background -- conceptualized as linguistic capital -- influences writing exercises as well as classroom interaction. It concludes by arguing that analyses of symbolic capital in context can provide insight into the intertwining of political economic and symbolic processes that is characteristic of higher education in the current era.