Survey Variable: Film Genres Watched

Figure 1. See also Table A1.

As well as the music that they listen to, the survey asked respondents about the kinds of films that they watch. Unlike music, there is no single stand-out film genre that is much more popular than the rest (in the case of music, it is rock and pop). As Figure 1 (above, using weighted data) shows, comedy films are the most popular and are watched by slightly less than three quarters of people (72.1%). However, comedies are closely followed in popularity by drama films (watched by 66.7% of people) and thrillers (watched by 62.9% of people). Crime and action films are also watched by more than half of people (57.4% and 55.3% respectively), whilst documentaries are watched by almost half (49.2%). The least popular genre (besides ‘Other’) is foreign and art house films, which are watched by one in seven people (13.5%), whilst both horror films and musical or dance films are watched by around a quarter of people (24.5% and 24.3% respectively).

The low popularity of foreign and art house films fits with the distinction between ‘legitimate’ cultural capital (held in high esteem, viewed as valuable), which is often the preserve of smaller high-status groups, and popular culture (more widespread and viewed as less valuable). However, both documentaries and biographies or historical films are popular (the latter are viewed by 44.2% of people), whilst also constituting legitimate cultural capital due to their possible educational value. Classic films often also hold cultural cachet (think Citizen Kane), giving them status as legitimate cultural capital, and are also viewed widely (by 41.7% of people). This suggests that, in relation to films, there is no clear delineation between less popular legitimate culture and more widely viewed popular culture. However, we cannot tell how often films from each genre are watched and it may be the case that people watch many more films from popular genres (e.g., action) than from genres with more cultural cachet (e.g., documentaries).

Despite the limitations of the question in terms of frequency of viewing, we can look at how many film genres people watch. This gives an indication of how likely it is that some genres are in opposition with others such that people who watch some types of films are very unlikely to watch some other types of films. This is more likely to be the case if people tend to watch a small number of film genres, but Figure 2 (below, also using weighted data) shows that this is not really the case. More than half of people (54.9%) watch between four and eight genres of film, which is only between a quarter and half of the available options but nonetheless constitutes a lot of genres. The mean number of film genres watched (6.7) is approaching twice the mean number of music genres listened to (3.6), so it seems that people’s tastes in film are less restricted than their tastes in music. Both counts of tastes in genres, however, have distributions that are skewed towards the lower end of the scale, unlike the distribution for number of cultural activities that they engage in outside the home. Again, this may stem (in part) from people’s willingness to indicate that they don’t do something when asked a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question rather than a frequency question (in which the equivalent answer to ‘No’ is ‘Never’ and appears in a list of options).

Figure 2. See also Table A2.
Variable namescc_fg_action_bmv, cc_fg_classics_bmv,
cc_fg_comedy_bmv, cc_fg_crime_bmv,
cc_fg_docu_bmv, cc_fg_drama_bmv,
cc_fg_family_bmv, cc_fg_fantasy_bmv,
cc_fg_foreignart_bmv, cc_fg_histbio_bmv,
cc_fg_horror_bmv, cc_fg_musicdance_bmv,
cc_fg_romance_bmv, cc_fg_scifi_bmv,
cc_fg_thrillers_bmv, cc_fg_other_bmv
Number of cases1,381
Number of categories2
Categories to code as missingNone
Cases to code as missingNone
Recoded variable namecc_mfg_count
Number of cases1,381
Number of categories16
New and old categoriesCategory 1 (‘Yes’) on each of the original
variables was counted as 1 (i.e.
indicating that the genre of films is
watched), with category 0 (‘No’) counted
as zero. As such, 1 on the new variable
indicates that only one genre of films is
watched (respondents who don’t watch
films were not asked this question, which
is why there are no zero (0) answers),
whilst 16 indicates that all of the genres
are watched at least occasionally.
Details of the original and recoded film genres watched variables.

Published by joegreenwoodhau

Joe Greenwood-Hau is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Government & Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, where he works on the Capital, Privilege and Political Participation in Britain and Beyond project.

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