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Can cultural consumption increase future earnings? Exploring the economic returns to cultural capital

Reeves, Aaron and de Vries, Robert (2018) Can cultural consumption increase future earnings? Exploring the economic returns to cultural capital. British Journal of Sociology, 70 (1). pp. 214-240. ISSN 0007-1315

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1468-4446.12374


Cultural consumption is often viewed as a form of embodied cultural capital which can be converted into economic rewards (e.g., earnings) because such practices increase the likelihood of moving into more advantaged social positions. However, quantitative evidence supporting this theory remains uncertain because it is often unable to rule out alternative explanations. Cultural consumption appears to influence hiring decisions in some elite firms, in both the US and the UK, but it is unclear whether these processes are applicable to other professional occupations and other labour market processes, such as promotions. We examine these processes using data from Understanding Society, an individual-level panel survey conducted in the UK, allowing us to explore whether cultural consumption predicts future earnings, upward social mobility and promotions. People who consume a larger number of cultural activities are more likely to earn higher wages in the future, to be upwardly socially mobile, and to be promoted. Cultural consumption, then, can function as cultural capital in some labour market settings, potentially contributing to the reproduction of income inequality between generations.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 London School of Economics and Political Science
Divisions: International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2019 10:36
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:37

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