Friday, August 6, 2010

PL 56/10: Books, libraries and social class

Filed under: Uncategorized — plinius @ 11:55 am

The latest study of cultural participation in Sweden (2009) places workers at the bottom – and upper management (högre tjänestemän) at the top – in nearly every category.

Did you visit a library during the past quarter?

  • 39% for upper management
  • 33% for lower management/foremen
  • 31% for people working in trade, services, social care
  • 22% for workers
  • 16% for small firm owners

Note that the exceptionally low percentage among small firm owners applies to libraries, not to culture in general.

Book reading

Did you read a book during the last quarter?

  • 80% for upper management
  • 71% for lower management/foremen
  • 67% for people working in trade, services, social care
  • 53% for small firm owners
  • 44 % for workers

Class differences in book reading probably decreased from 1988 to 2000. After the turn of the century they started to increase and are now (2009) back at the 1988 level.

My tentative explanation would be:

the 1990s were the final stage of the welfare state. Higher education was widely available to people with basic skills and a modicum of motivation. Traditional unskilled and low-skilled jobs continued to disappear. Parts of the working class moved into the middle class. During this expansive phase, differences in book reading were reduced.

After year 2000, the class structure hardened. Higher education was no longer a guarantee for a job with steady income and good career possibilities. Competition intensified. At the bottom a hard core of less skilled workers remain – with low upward mobility and culturally distant from the new knowledge society.


Did you visit a museum during the past quarter?

  • 19% for upper management
  • 13% for lower management/foremen
  • 9% for small firm owners
  • 9% for people working in trade, services, social care
  • 5% for workers



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