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The Values of Culture? Social closure in the political identities, policy preferences, and social attitudes of cultural and creative workers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalThe Sociological Review
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Jul 2019
DatePublished (current) - 28 Aug 2019


Cultural consumption and production are both characterised by multiple dimensions of inequality. Research in cultural stratification has highlighted the links between the exclusivity of cultural production, the type of cultural works created, and the audiences and public receptions for culture. We contribute to this agenda by examining a hitherto unexplored area: the cultural values and political identities of workers in the creative industries and cultural sector. Analysis of the British Social Attitudes (2010–2015) surveys and British Election Study Internet Panel (2016–2017) surveys demonstrates that creative and cultural workers have distinct cultural values. They are among the most left-wing, liberal and pro-welfare of any occupations and industries. This sets them apart from the average respondent who is relatively more right-wing, authoritarian and more in favour of welfare control. When examining their non-electoral participation, we also find they are highly civically engaged in terms of contacting elected representatives and government officials, signing petitions, political volunteering, political donations, participating in demonstrations, ethical consumption and boycotts, and industrial action. Moreover, they are more likely to report that they supported Remain in the 2016 EU ‘Brexit’ Referendum, to report unhappiness with the Leave result, and to identify with Remain voters. We conclude that distinct occupational cultures are particularly significant in the case of the cultural and creative sector, given creative workers’ role in representing society and the civic realm via the products of their work. We also argue that occupational cultures constitute an important, under-recognised source of social and cultural division.

    Research areas

  • Cultural and Creative Industries, Values, Social attitudes, Social closure, Left-right politics, Liberalism, Cultural Workers

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    Licence: CC BY-NC


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