Academic journal article Development and Society

Omnivorous Consumer or Omnivorous Producer?: Patterns of Cultural Participation in Korea *

Academic journal article Development and Society

Omnivorous Consumer or Omnivorous Producer?: Patterns of Cultural Participation in Korea *

Article excerpt

Introduction

Since Bourdieu's (1984) exploration of the association between class and cultural tastes, much of literature has focused on the relationship between a person's position in the social hierarchy and his or her cultural participation. In Korea, there are also many studies dealing with the relationship between social status and cultural capital (e.g. Nam 2008). Through the critical acceptance of Bourdieu's ideas, several researchers have found that people of higher socio-economic status have a wide range of both highbrow and popular cultural tastes (Peterson 1992; Peterson and Kern 1996). The term 'omnivore' was coined to denote a person with a variety of cultural tastes, whereas 'univore' denotes someone whose cultural tastes are narrow. With these new categories, the debate on the association between one's social position and cultural capacities has shifted from an elite-to-mass status hierarchy to one of omnivore-to-univore status (Peterson 1992; Warde, Wright, and Gayo-Cal 2008).

Studies of cultural omnivorousness or cultural variety have been on the rise of late. Thus far, most researchers have relied on measures of cultural preferences or cultural participation in examinations of cultural variety (Lee and Lee 2014). Those using measures of cultural preferences have demonstrated that people of high socio-economic status like diverse cultural activities or genres (Bryson 1996; Peterson and Kern 1996). Meanwhile, those reliant on measures of cultural participation have found that people of a higher status actually participate in a wide range of cultural consumption activities (Chan and Goldthorpe 2007; López-Sintas and Katz-Gerro 2005). Whereas the bulk of the literature on cultural omnivorousness has endeavored to provide empirical evidence in terms of participation in cultural consumption activities, less attention has been given to the field of cultural production activities. However, according to the 'cultural diamond', in order to understand the relationship between society and cultural objects more thoroughly, it is important to consider producers as well as consumers (Griswold 2008). Cultural consumption activities and cultural production activities lie along a continuum, and are not separate social phenomena (Choi and Lee 2012, p. 69). Bourdieu (1984, p. 75) emphasized the importance of cultural production activities by arguing that people who enjoy both performing and listening to music become more familiar with music than those who are mere listeners. DiMaggio and Ostrower (1990) also suggested the necessity of exploring not only the cultural consumption activities of individuals but also people's avocational production activities. In this context, by focusing only on cultural consumption activities, empirical studies on cultural omnivores have led to a limited understanding of cultural capital.

The purpose of this study is to explore the different patterns of cultural participation in Korean society by examining both cultural consumption and cultural production activities. If we simultaneously consider the omnivorousness of cultural consumption and of cultural production, it is possible to approach cultural omnivorousness in a more multi-dimensional way. Contrary to general expectations, an individual's omnivorousness of cultural consumption and cultural production activities do not necessarily correlate. Some people could be omnivores either in the field of cultural consumption or of cultural production activities. In this light, the current study attempts to identify the different types of cultural omnivores through the use of comprehensive data about Korean people's cultural consumption and production activities. It is our hope that these categorizations can broaden the discussion of cultural omnivores, which has thus far been limited to cultural consumption activities. Moreover, as people belonging to different types of cultural participation may have heterogeneous demographic backgrounds and be located at different positions within a social structure, this research also strives to analyze the determinants of each type of cultural participation. …

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