Death to the Art Snob

The notion of a cultural elite is a thing of the past, a myth, says new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Researchers found little evidence of a ‘cultural elite’ that aspires to ‘high culture’, while turning its back on popular culture.

The research, carried out by the University of Oxford, looked at survey data from around the world. Findings confirmed that a cultural-elite, linked to social class, does not exist in society.

What’s the single most powerful indicators that someone will consume large amounts of culture? The study says, “It’s education and social status, not social class that predict cultural consumption.”

The study sheds light on the cultural consumer as an international phenomenon and breaks down cultural consumers into the following groups:
Univores: people who have an interest in popular culture only
Ominvores: people who consume the full variety of different types of culture
Paucivores: people who consume a limited range of cultural activities
Inactives: people who access nothing at all.

“There’s little evidence for the existence of a cultural elite who would consume ‘high’ culture while shunning more ‘popular’ cultural forms,” said Doctor Tak Wing Chan, “Furthermore, at least a substantial minority of members of the most advantaged social groups are univores or inactives.”