There are many ways that culture is good for individuals and for society. It has positive effects on health, on education, on places, and on communities. Culture has value in and of itself, irrespective of its impact on social or economic issues. The good culture can do is a key reason for cultural workers’ commitment to cultural occupations, as well as central to much government and organisational policy. This chapter looks at the ways culture is good for us, drawing on recent policy and research documents. The chapter complements the analysis of policy and research with interview data from cultural workers. By making the case that culture is good for you, the chapter introduces the problem of inequality that is the subject of the rest of the book. Inequalities in production and in consumption mean that, sadly, culture is only good for narrow and closed sections of society.
Senior men are in positions of power and can change the cultural sector. Much of the academic literature worried that they would not recognise inequality and would therefore be slow to act. This chapter demonstrates how senior men now understand inequality in cultural occupations, and are able to give nuanced analysis of gender, class, and racial inequalities. They are skilled at ‘inequality talk’. However, this understanding of inequality may not produce change. This is because senior men’s understanding of their own career successes do not take inequalities into account. Moreover, by embracing structural accounts of gender, class, and racial inequality in cultural occupations, senior men play down their ability, as individuals, to challenge and change systemic problems. Just as with the rest of the book’s analysis, shared experiences hide the impact of inequality, in this case the positive benefit for those who fit the somatic norm of cultural occupations.