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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.

Identities, repertoires, cultural consumption
Author: Meghji Ali

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.

Crafting a study on Britain’s Black middle class
Meghji Ali

racism. 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 cultural consumption?’ This book, therefore, seeks to draw fundamental links between the macro, material British racial hierarchy and the micro phenomenon of Black middleclass cultural consumption. I address questions such as ‘How does the unequal distribution of

in Black middle class Britannia
Double consciousness, Black Britishness, and cultural consumption
Meghji Ali

5 Revisiting race and nation: double consciousness, Black Britishness, and cultural consumption S 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

in Black middle class Britannia
Abstract only
Consuming traditional middle-class culture
Meghji Ali

traditional middle-class culture. White spaces: the physical and symbolic One problem with colour-blind studies of middle-class cultural consumption 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 gatekeeping.4

in Black middle class Britannia
Orian Brook, Dave O’Brien and Mark Taylor

through supporting the cultural interests of her children. At the end of Chapter 4 we commented that the patterns of inequality in cultural consumption 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

in Culture is bad for you
Does popular culture mean popular language?
Nigel Armstrong

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.

in Imagining the popular in contemporary French culture
Selina Todd

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.

in Culture in Manchester
Abstract only
Orian Brook, Dave O’Brien and Mark Taylor

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 cultural consumption 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

in Culture is bad for you
Orian Brook, Dave O’Brien and Mark Taylor

is a clear relationship between people’s cultural consumption 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

in Culture is bad for you