The most comprehensive study of Australians’ cultural preferences published

9 Sep 2020

A ground-breaking book by an international research team, including cultural theory leaders at The University of Queensland, has been published.

The book titled Fields, Capitals, Habitus: Australian Culture, Inequalities and Social Divisions (2020) focuses on the pivotal role culture plays in social divisions and inequalities in Australia, between classes, age groups, ethnicities, genders, city and country, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The book is being lauded as a landmark contribution to cultural capital research.

Emeritus Professors David Carter FAHA and Graeme Turner AO contributed key chapters to Fields, Capitals, Habitus: Australian Culture, Inequalities and Social Divisions (2020) edited by David Carter and co-editors Professor Tony Bennett, project leader, Professor Greg Noble, Dr Modesto Gayo and Dr Michelle Kelly.

The book’s data is drawn from a social survey of Australians’ cultural preferences, conducted by UQ’s Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) plus follow-up in-depth qualitative interviews

“Occupational class and level of education completed play the strongest role in determining the nature and level of individuals’ participation in different forms of culture” Professor David Carter said.

Emeritus Professor
David Carter FAHA

“Our research illustrates that the kinds of culture Australians have access to depends on their social backgrounds and will influence economic rewards available” he said.

The book begins by describing how social divisions inform the ways Australians from different social backgrounds and positions engage with the genres, institutions and particular works of culture and cultural figures.

It reviews six cultural fields: the visual arts, literature, music, heritage, television and sport.

“Access to and participation in culture in Australia is not evenly distributed, and this is not just a matter of personal preferences” Professor David Carter said.

“Our research shows that age plays a strong role in the music field and gender has a major influence in the sports field” Professor Carter said.

The book examines how Australians’ cultural preferences across these fields interact within the Australian ‘space of lifestyles’.

Emeritus Professor
Graeme Turner AO

A pioneering aspect of the book is the way it examines the emergence of an Indigenous middle class and new forms of Indigenous cultural capital.

The book also explores the impact of gendered, political, personal and community associations of cultural tastes across Australia’s Anglo-Celtic, Italian, Lebanese, Chinese and Indian populations.

Fields, Capitals, Habitus and the ISSR survey were initiated by the 2014 ARC Discovery Project grant “Australian Cultural Fields: National and Transnational Dynamics”.

The book’s front cover features a photograph by Professor Carter, taken under the Merivale Bridge which crosses the Brisbane River at Southbank.

Click here for more book details