The Outside Interests of the Cultural Elite Dave Griffiths

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The Outside Interests of the Cultural Elite

  • Dave Griffiths

  • University Of Manchester/CRESC

Elite studies

  • History of the social elite largely history of their financial structures

  • Elite controls more than economic climate

  • Similar groups sitting in all top public positions

  • Cultural positions are hives of elite activity

  • Influence of cultural producers places them at centre of bourgeois power

Types of capital

  • Social Capital – associations and networks with individuals and institutions

  • Cultural Capital – knowledge of cultural practices and norms

  • Economic Capital – ownership of cash, property or other economical position

  • Symbolic Capital – reputation, skills and expertise respected by others

Cultural capital

  • Different capitals unlock different doors

  • Cultural capital is difficult to attain

  • US emerging elites buy positions on cultural boards to gain cultural capital (Ostrower: 1995)

  • In the UK, cultural boards are public boards, so acceptance cannot be bought


  • Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) executive quangos

  • 45 agencies employing 15,000 individuals and spending £1.2 billion a year (2005/06)

  • Address all forms of UK culture from museums and galleries, regional cultural agencies, public access to literature and music, sports, films, architecture and heritage – even drinking and gambling


  • 767 individuals

  • 63% male, average age 58

  • Over 11,000 pieces of information

  • Collected from April 2006 to January 2007

  • Press releases, websites, annual reports, registers of members’ interests, Who’s Who, Debrett’s People of Today

DCMS network

Charities network

Private member clubs

Quango directorships

Embeddedness values

  • Closeness Centrality (how many steps a board is from all others)

  • multiplied by

  • Betweenness Centrality (how many other shortest paths pass through it)

  • Produces an embeddedness value of between 0 and 1.

  • These values have been averaged out for each type of quango, and multiplied by 1,000 for display purposes.

  • Outliers, or those with no betweenness, have a value of 0.

Organisational differences

  • Regional organisations utilise social capital to generate cultural capital

  • National organisations utilise cultural capital to generate social capital

  • London museums utilise cultural capital to generate social and cultural capital

Culture West Midlands’ social capital

  • Albion Emsemble

  • aliss

  • Artix Arts Centre – Bromsgrove

  • Association of European Conservatoires

  • Belmont Arts Centre – Shropshire

  • Birmingham Arts Marketing (2)

  • Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs

  • Birmingham Conservatories

  • Birmingham Educational Arts Forum

  • Birmingham Hippodrome

  • Birmingham Royal Ballet

  • Black Country Touring

  • British Double Reed Society

  • Connexions

  • John Fenny Charitable Trust

  • Herefordshire Cultural Consortium

AERC’s social capital

  • Alcohol Concern

  • Centre for Information on Beverage Alcohol

  • Chinese National Healthy Eating Living Centre

  • Diaego Foundation

  • International Agency on Tobacco and Health

  • International Cochrane Collaboration

  • Royal Colleges of the Physician of the UK (Public Health Faculty)

  • Motivational Interviewing Trainers International

  • National Heart Forum

  • Portland Group


Natural History Museum’s social capital

  • 21st Century Tiger

  • British Ecological Society (2)

  • Buckinghamshire Foundation

  • Campaign for Science and Engineering

  • Central & Cecil Housing Trust

  • Darwin Trust

  • Dolphin Square Charitable Trust

  • Earth Centre

  • Environmental Advice Centre


  • Friends of Arundel Cricket Club

  • Gardens Pension Trustees Limited

  • Helmholtz Gemeinschaft – Germany

  • Intellectual Property Bar Association

  • International Fellowship Committee

  • Italgas Prize for Energy and Environment

  • IUCN Species Survival Commission

  • Kennedy Memorial Fund

  • London First


  • Social position is important for London’s museums

  • Social positions are important for national bodies

  • Social capital is important for regional bodies

  • National institutions are not overly ‘national’

  • Are UK museums less democratic than their US counterparts?

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