Cultural engagement across the life course: examining age–period–cohort effects

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2014


Longitudinal studies of cultural engagement are uncommon. This paper explores whether there are stable latent clusters of cultural engagement over time and whether age–period–cohort (APC) effects explain within-person changes between these clusters across the life course. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey (N = 25,149), I conduct longitudinal latent class analysis to uncover the latent patterns of cultural consumption across nine activities: cinema, watching live sport, attending the theatre, eating at a restaurant, doing DIY, attending an evening class, meeting with local groups, volunteering, and going to a club/pub. Then, I explore whether APC effects are observable in the data using scatterplot smoothing, lowess regression. Six latent clusters are consistently observed in each wave: None, DIY, Restaurant/Pub, Cinema/Theatre, Volunteer, and All (almost all activities). A large number of respondents have highly stable patterns of cultural engagement but there is also a substantial degree of variation. Transitions between latent clusters over time occur between those that are compositionally similar (in terms of activities). These changes in patterns of cultural engagement are partially explained by age effects, such as time constraints and health. Additionally, there is some evidence of cohort effects among the youngest cohorts moving into the “All” latent cluster, the cluster with the most cultural breadth.

Published in

Cultural Trends

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 23 , p.273 -289






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