When does inequality begin in cultural workers’ lives?
in Culture is bad for you
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Inequalities in cultural production and cultural consumption begin very early in an individual’s life. This chapter analyses survey and interview data to understand how access to culture in childhood might influence getting in and getting on in cultural occupations later in life.

The chapter introduces the concept of cultural capital, the cultural resources that help some people feel at home in cultural, and other professional, occupations.

The interview data illustrates a theme that runs throughout the rest of the chapters. What seems to be a set of experiences shared by all cultural workers actually hides significant differences. The differences in childhood experience of, and access to, culture reflect social inequalities. In particular social class is crucial in determining who gets access to cultural resources. These include music, drama, poetry, and dance, along with books and libraries. Differing levels of cultural capital, in the context of our unequal education system, mean that the absence of a level playing field for cultural occupations begins very early in life.


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