Cultural capital and the cultural field in contemporary Britain

Bennett, Tony; Savage, Mike; Silva, Elizabeth; Warde, Alan; Gayo-Cal, Modesto and Wright, David (2005). Cultural capital and the cultural field in contemporary Britain. CRESC Working Papers (3). Milton Keynes, UK: CRESC (Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change).



This paper presents a preliminary analysis of the survey components of an ESRC project on Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion focused on the relations of culture and class in contemporary Britain. It draws on the data produced by a national survey of the cultural activities, preferences and knowledges of 1700+ adult UK residents. Administered in 2003–4, the survey constitutes an expansion and revision of that used by Pierre Bourdieu in Distinction. In presenting this data, the paper examines the organisation and distribution of cultural capital in and across different components of the cultural field in contemporary Britain. Attention is paid to the art, music, literary and media fields, and to correlations of taste across these fields. In summarising the project’s initial findings in these regards the paper also considers the respects in which they suggest the need to qualify aspects of Pierre Bourdieu’s account of cultural capital. Their bearing on subsequent debates - Richard Peterson’s account of omnivorous taste culture, for example - is also considered.

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