Are art-museum visitors different from other people? the relationship between attendance and social and political attitudes in the United States

Paul DiMaggio

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Most research on aesthetic taste and activities views familiarity with and participation in the arts as a type of cultural capital and emphasizes the relationship between taste and socioeconomic achievement. By contrast, this paper examines the manner in which arts participation is embedded in larger systems of meaning, by investigating the associations between one kind of artistic participation - art-museum visiting - and individuals' responses to ninety-four questions about their social, cultural, and political values and attitudes. Using multiple classification analysis, we identified numerous significant differences between U.S. art-museum visitors and other Americans, after adjusting for the effects of age, education, income, race, and gender. Art-museum visitors are somewhat more secular, trusting, politically liberal, racially tolerant, and open to other cultures and lifestyles, and much more tolerant and interested in high culture than are comparable non-visitors. These differences represent a distinctly modern disposition, evincing, first, a faith in progress and in scientific (and artistic) authority; and, second, an open, cosmopolitan orientation to both people and cultures. Affinities and tensions between this broader set of orientations and the strategic uses of cultural capital are addressed speculatively.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)161-180
    Number of pages20
    Issue number2-4
    StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Communication
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Literature and Literary Theory

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