A critical investigation into the relationship between socio-economic status and cultural preferences
(2015) A critical investigation into the relationship between socio-economic status and cultural preferences, no. 93.
This research was undertaken to explore the relationship between consumers' socioeconomic status and their preferences in the cultural sector, with a particular focus on classical cultural events. The objectives of the research were to understand what extent a consumer is influenced by their social class and, therefore, how this motivates their tastes in culture. The research aimed to identify if there were any social barriers that stopped people attending certain types of events and if there was a way to lower these barriers. The research is important as it will help identify the areas of the cultural sector that are not accessible to all and question why this is the case, therefore, helping tackle social exclusion in culture. A literature review was conducted as a way to develop the theoretical frameworks of the investigation. The main theories and theme discussed by the literature was how if a consumer belonged to a certain socio-economic group, that social group had a particular set of cultural preferences. This was the idea supported by Gans (1974; 1999) and Bourdieu (1984; 1992) which highlighted the elitist nature of the cultural industry. This, therefore, allowed for the study to build a framework to conduct the research to meet the aims and objectives. A mixed methods approach of both quantitative and qualitative data was adopted; this was a way of ensuring that both the audiences and the venues had a chance to answer questions about the topic. The study focused on Edinburgh. Selfcompletion questionnaires were issued over social media for the consumers and semistructured interviews were conducted with marketing managers at three different venues. The main findings of the research were that consumers had habits of sticking with the culture that was perceived to be for their socio-economic group. Pricing of an event, regardless of the culture, was identified as a barrier for attendance and therefore, was identified as a factor of social exclusion. However, it was noted that not everyone sticks with the stereotype for their group, as there can be exceptions based on factors such as age and circumstance. The venues do not believe that they contribute to social exclusion; however, it was noted that there is a clear difference between funded and non-funded venues and the way the market to all audience types.