Art and culture are supposed to bring society together. Culture is bad for you challenges the received wisdom that culture is good for us. It does this by demonstrating who makes who and consumes culture are marked by significant inequalities and social divisions. The book combines the first large-scale study of social mobility into cultural and creative jobs, hundreds of interviews with creative workers, and a detailed analysis of secondary datasets. The book shows how unpaid work is endemic to the cultural occupations, excluding those without money and contacts. It explores unequal access to cultural education and demonstrates the importance of culture in childhood. The book looks at gender inequalities, analysing key moments when women leave cultural occupations, while men go on to senior roles. Culture is bad for you also theorises the mechanisms underpinning the long-term and long-standing class crisis in cultural occupations. In doing so it highlights the experiences of working-class origin women of colour as central to how we understand inequality. Addressing the intersections between social mobility, ethnicity, and gender, the book argues that the creative sector needs to change. At the moment cultural occupations strengthen social inequalities, rather than supporting social justice. It is only then that everyone in society will be able to say that culture is good for you.
This book analyses how racism and anti-racism influence Black British
middle-class cultural consumption. In doing so, this book challenges the
dominant understanding of British middle-class identity and culture as being
‘beyond race’. Paying attention to the relationship between cultural capital
and cultural repertoires, this book puts forward the idea that there are three
black middle-class identity modes: strategic assimilation, class-minded, and
ethnoracial autonomous. People towards each of these identity modes use specific
cultural repertoires to organise their cultural consumption. Those towards
strategic assimilation draw on repertoires of code-switching and cultural
equity, consuming traditional middle-class culture to maintain an equality with
the White middle class in levels of cultural capital. Ethnoracial autonomous
individuals draw on repertoires of browning and Afro-centrism, removing
themselves from traditional middle-class cultural pursuits they decode as
‘Eurocentric’, while showing a preference for cultural forms that uplift Black
diasporic histories and cultures. Lastly, those towards the class-minded
identity mode draw on repertoires of post-racialism and de-racialisation. Such
individuals polarise between ‘Black’ and middle-class cultural forms, display an
unequivocal preference for the latter, and lambast other Black people who avoid
middle-class culture as being culturally myopic or culturally
uncultivated. This book will appeal to sociology students, researchers, and
academics working on race and class, critical race theory, and cultural
sociology, among other social science disciplines.
Against this post-racial argument, my work turns towards the cultural
sphere, and looks at the unequal distribution of cultural resources across Britain’s
racial hierarchy. In this book, I am particularly interested in addressing the question ‘Do racism and anti-racism affect Black middle-class culturalconsumption?’ This book, therefore, seeks to draw fundamental links between the macro,
material British racial hierarchy and the micro phenomenon of Black middleclass culturalconsumption. I address questions such as ‘How does the unequal
Double consciousness, Black Britishness, and cultural
Revisiting race and nation: double
consciousness, Black Britishness,
ince moving to London in 2016, I found that the Senate House Library provided a good sociological writing climate. It was fair to say that I had become
quite familiar with the space surrounding the Senate House and got into a standard routine of working until lunch time, grabbing a sandwich to eat in the park,
working until the late afternoon, and hopping back on the Piccadilly line to go
home. Little did I know that each day I was going to the Senate House Library
traditional middle-class culture.
White spaces: the physical and symbolic
One problem with colour-blind studies of middle-class culturalconsumption 2 is
that we lose the ability to recognise the overwhelming whiteness of middle-class
cultural spaces. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that much recent literature in Britain has turned attention towards how cultural production reproduces
racial ideologies,3 or how the ‘workforce’ in cultural institutions is disproportionately white and middle class, thus constructing issues around racialised–classed
through supporting the cultural interests of her children.
At the end of Chapter 4 we commented that the patterns of inequality in culturalconsumption in the adult population start from a young age. We’re going to use this chapter to explore this, and in addition to show how some of the patterns of inequality in cultural production are related to people’s experiences growing up.
Tasha’s support for her children gives them particular advantages. These advantages are especially important if her kids would like to follow their mother into a cultural and creative
This chapter examines the relevance of popular language for wider perceptions of what constitutes ‘popular culture’. It looks at a historical French centralism which, through policies that included education and military conscription, minimised regional variations in accent and vocabulary, and certainly separated these from linguistic markers of social class. The chapter also describes French Republicanism's powerful ideal of an inclusive, uplifting high-culture-for-all that resists any social levelling ‘down’ of language as of any other form of culture. It argues that linguistic standards come to be seen as a rule-system from which people deviate to the extent that they are not highly educated. Language production is central to the individual's presentation of her or his identity, and as such is intertwined, perhaps even more than choices of cultural consumption, with the complex, multiple weave of contemporary French identity.
Selina Todd’s essay is a focused study of one cultural institution – a contemporary theatre group from north Manchester, MaD theatre company. Todd examines MaD’s experience, using this case study to argue that policymakers and middle-class cultural practitioners marginalise working-class cultural production. She is as interested in cultural production as in cultural consumption, suggesting that ‘cultural inclusion’ is usually interpreted as a very specific form of limited participation, with no place for a role as producer of culture. MaD is a working-class community theatre company, founded in 1996. Its membership and audiences increased in the years up to 2009, the company performing an original play each year. Audience questionnaires show that 60 percent of the audience were local, the majority manual and clerical workers, unemployed, or students. Todd situates MaD in the context of Manchester’s history of working-class culture, and of representations of working-class life, addressing questions of culture and community and of local, national and global reach. She shows that celebrating ‘diversity’ might actually work against class equality at the local level.
points out, is a White man from a middle-class background. People who are not part of that demographic group face substantial barriers to their success.
These are some examples of the dynamics that shape the sorts of culture we get. They shape the audience too. We will demonstrate how culturalconsumption is highly unequal.
We sometimes think of culture as open to all. Government policy has made some museums free, and subsidised the cost of other artforms. Our analysis shows that engagement in many forms of government-supported culture are, at best, a minority
is a clear relationship between people’s culturalconsumption and more general social inequalities. We can show this with England as our example.
In England, on average, someone in a high-status job, with a degree, in the higher managerial or professional category, who is female, and living in the South of England, has particularly high engagement in culture. Those in working-class occupations, ethnic minorities, and those without wealth, have significantly less formal cultural engagement as compared to their wealthy, White counterparts.
From our analysis we