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A cultural map of the United Kingdom, 2003

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This paper employs Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) to map cultural participation and taste in the UK. It constructs what Bourdieu calls a space of lifestyles from evidence collected in a national random sample survey of the British population in 2003. MCA constructs the space relationally on the basis of similarities and differences in responses to questions about a large number of cultural items in several sub-fields including music, reading, TV and recreational activity. These items are mapped along two axes and their clustering indicates affinities between tastes and practices across sub-fields. The cultural patterns are described. We then superimpose socio-demographic variables, including class, educational qualifications and age, the distribution of which indicates tendencies for certain categories of person to have shared tastes. The analysis reveals meaningful, socially differentiated patterns of taste. The space of lifestyles proves to be structured primarily by the total volume of capital (resources) held by respondents and by age. Strong oppositions are revealed. An older, educated middle class shares ‘legitimate' established cultural preferences. The repertoire of a younger middle class group contains more contemporary and ‘popular' items. Less well-educated, working class groups are characterised often primarily by lack of cultural participation, but also, especially among the young, by an aversion to ‘legitimate' culture.

Keywords: Bourdieu; Cultural capital; Multiple correspondence analysis; Space of lifestyles

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2006

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