The “cultural elite” brought up on opera and the higher arts, which supposedly turns up its nose at anything as vulgar as a pop song or mainstream television, does not exist, according to research published by Oxford University academics…

For this exercise, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, they divided people into four groups – univores, who only like popular culture; omnivores, who like everything from opera to soap opera; paucivores, who absorb very little culture; and inactives, who absorb practically none.

People’s education, income and social class were all taken into account but this study, unlike others of its kind, differentiated between “class” and “status”. An out-of-work aristocrat has class, without status, while there are bright people from poor backgrounds who have “status” but not “class”…

Class, as opposed to status, does not seem to have much effect on cultural tastes. “A substantial minority of members of the most advantaged social groups are univores or inactives,” the researchers found.

Dr Chan [of Oxford University] said: “Our work shows it’s education and social status, not social class that predict cultural consumption in the UK, and broadly comparable results were obtained from other countries too.”

New Zealand Herald

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