Survey Variable: Cultural Activities Outside the Home

Beyond its measures of multiple forms of political participation, one of the key strengths of the Capital, Privilege and Political Participation in Britain survey is its detailed measures of three forms of capital: economic, social, and cultural. Whilst the role of people’s economic and social capital in their political participation has been studied a great deal, there has been less focus on the importance of cultural capital. This project aims to address that and, as such, the survey included questions about a range of cultural tastes and habits. The first question in this vein focused on respondents’ cultural activities outside the home. They were asked how often they do seventeen different activities and their answers are shown in Figure 1 (above, using weighted data).[1]

By far the most frequently undertaken activity is going for a walk for pleasure (panel P), which more than half of people (54.4%) do a couple of times a month or more. Almost four fifths of people (78.6%) go out for a walk at least every three months, and less than one in fifteen (6.3%) never do so. A similar percentage of people (6.5%) never go to a pub, bar or café (panel L), whilst more than three quarters (76.8%) do so at least every three months and almost two fifths (39.6%) do so multiple times a month. This is followed in popularity by eating out (panel H), which almost a quarter of people (24.5%) do a couple of times a month or more, more than seven in ten (71.4%) do at least every three months, and slightly more than one in twenty (5.3%) never do.

The activity that is least frequently engaged in is going to the bingo, which more than four fifths of people (84.3%) never do. This is followed by attendance at dance and ballet performances (panel J), which more than two third of people (69.4%) never do, and then attendance at classical music and opera performances (panel C), which slightly less than two third of people (63.9%) never do. Two of the three least popular activities (dance and ballet performances, and classical music and opera performances) relate to what Pierre Bourdieu called ‘legitimate’ cultural capital, which is to say that they are generally held in high esteem and seen as worthy. Indeed, another cultural activity that might be described as legitimate is also engaged in infrequently: going to galleries (panel F) is done less than once a year by almost two thirds of people (65.2%).

However, there are also legitimate cultural activities that are more frequently undertaken, and more than half of people go to museums (panel E) or historic buildings (panel G) at least once a year (51.3% and 57.4% respectively). Many activities that might not be seen as legitimate are also undertaken infrequently: more than half of respondents never go to nightclubs (62.8%, panel M), go to stand-up comedy performances (53.2%, panel N), or play sport (58.8%, panel Q). Thus, there is no simple pattern in which legitimate cultural activities are undertaken less frequently than other activities. It will be particularly interesting to see how these activities are related; are there certain activities that go together such that people who do one of them also tend to do the others? This is something that the project will investigate before looking at whether cultural activities are related to political participation.

For now, we can also look at how many cultural activities people undertake at least sometimes, as graphed in Figure 2 (below, also using weighted data). This shows us that people participate in a great number of cultural activities: more than half of people (54.9%) do more than ten activities at least occasionally, and only one in fifty (2.0%) participate in fewer than three. This may indicate cultural omnivorousness,[2] in which people now see it as good to have many and varied cultural tastes and habits.

Figure 2. See also Table A2.
Variable namescc_ext_cinema_ir, cc_ext_music_ir,
cc_ext_clasoper_ir, cc_ext_theatre_ir,
cc_ext_museum_ir, cc_ext_gallery_ir,
cc_ext_histbuild_ir, cc_ext_eatout_ir,
cc_ext_bingo_ir, cc_ext_dance_ir,
cc_ext_wtchsprt_ir, cc_ext_pub_ir,
cc_ext_nightclub_ir, cc_ext_comedy_ir,
cc_ext_shopping_ir, cc_ext_walk_ir,
Number of cases1,405
Number of categories7
Categories to code as missingNone
Cases to code as missingNone
Recoded variable namecc_ext_count
Number of cases1,405
Number of categories18
New and old categoriesCategories 1 (‘Less often’), 2
(‘Once a year’), 3 (‘Every 6 months’),
4 (‘Every 2-3 months’), 5 (‘Once a month’),
and 6 (‘2+times a month’) on each of the
original variables were counted
as 1 (i.e. indicating that the
form of cultural activity has been
undertaken at least occasionally),
with category 0 (‘Never’) counted as zero.
As such, 0 on the new variable indicates
that none of the cultural activities are
ever done whilst 17 indicates that all
of them are done at least occasionally.
Details of the original and recoded cultural activities outside the home variables.

[1] See also Table A1.

[2] See Chan and Goldthorpe (2005), Chan and Goldthorp (2007a), and Chan and Goldthorpe (2007b).

Published by joegreenwoodhau

Joe Greenwood-Hau is a Lecturer in Politics in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, where his teaching focuses on Introduction to Political Data Analaysis and he is wrapping up the Capital, Privilege and Political Participation in Britain and Beyond project.

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