The University of Oxford research involving 78,000 people have revealed the reason behind why middle class people are more likely to play music, paint and act. The research found that it was not wealth or social status that were strongly linked to the people taking part in arts activities as amateurs or professionals.
Instead, it was the level of education that lay behind arts participation, the study by researcher Aaron Reeves found. Reeves said that of the 78,011 surveyed, 18 percent had taken part in painting or photography, 9 percent in dance, 10 percent in music, 2 percent in drama or opera; 6 percent had written poetry, plays or fiction. Only 22 percent had not done any artistic activities.
He found that having a higher income did not make arts participation more likely - those earning over 30,000 pounds a year were less likely to take part than those earning less. Social status mattered little. Those in higher professional jobs were less likely to take part in the arts than those in lower professional jobs and only slightly more likely to take part than those in lower supervisory roles and semi-routine roles.
Instead, the clearest link with artistic activity was education. After accounting for the influence of family class background by statistical analysis, he found that those with a degree were around four times more likely to take part in painting and photography than those with no educational qualification, five times more likely to be involved in dance and in crafts, and four times more likely to play a musical instrument. Those taking part in arts were more likely to be middle class simply because they were more likely to be highly educated.
But although having a middle class background makes it more likely that someone had gone to university, Reeves's findings showed that they were no more likely to take part in arts after graduating than were working class students. Reeves said the results show that it is educational attainment alone and not social status that is shaping the probability of being an arts participant.
The study is published in the journal Sociology