Where do cultural omnivores come from? The implications of educational mobility for cultural consumption

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

August 15, 2017


Many scholars see social mobility as a key factor that contributes to the emergence of cultural omnivores. In this article, we discuss three versions of the social mobility argument and assess their empirical validity using recent survey data on music and visual arts consumption in the United Kingdom. By applying diagonal reference models to our data, we show that none of these three arguments receives empirical support. Both parents’ and respondent’s educational level affect music/visual arts consumption, with the weight of the former being about a third in magnitude of the latter. There is no difference between the upwardly mobile and the downwardly mobile in the relative weights of origin and destination. Finally, socially mobile individuals are actually less omnivorous than those who are intergenerationally stable in advantaged positions. In light of these findings, we argue that social mobility does not explain the emergence of music/visual arts omnivores in the United Kingdom.

Published in

European Sociological Review

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 33 , p.576 -589






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