Project summary

The aim of the project is to produce reliable and internationally comparable information about cultural capital, cultural practices and tastes in Finland. In applying the later critical developments of the Bourdieusian approach (e.g., the work by B. Lahire and G. Schulze as well as the discussion of the so-called cultural omnivorousness), the main purpose of this research is to develop a concept and understanding of cultural capital in Finland, to find out how it is distributed and what kind of forms of social differentiation currently exist, and to analyse the structuring factors shaping these differences. The research will be carried out in cooperation with a British research team (project ‘Cultural capital and social exclusion’, see Bennett et al. 2009), which will make possible international comparisons. It will be interesting to see to what extent Finnish society differs from a traditional class society like the UK, and also from the other Nordic welfare states, e.g. Sweden.

In the project, both quantitative and qualitative data are utilised. Especially important was the collection of a new nationally representative survey data (N=1,388), conducted by Statistics Finland (Central Statistical Office of Finland) in the last part of the year 2007. The survey was particularly designed with the recent debates of cultural consumption in mind. The questionnaire was constructed following the example of the recent British survey (Bennett et al. 2003), but with a number of national or cultural modifications yet trying to save the comparability as far as possible. The main object of the quantitative analysis will be the causal effect of different kinds of capital to cultural practices and taste dispositions.

The qualitative part of the data set is comprised of over 50 focus group interviews as well as a selection of 28 follow-up in-depth interviews with survey respondents. These interviews were conducted in 2005–2007 and 2008–2009, and will be used to analyse the meaning of the relationship between taste judgements, the social mechanisms of the differentiation processes, as well as the mode of speaking about these differences.

The research will have not only general social scientific importance but its results will also be relevant for social and cultural policies – and more generally in connection with social inequality.

The project has received funding from the Helsinki University’s own research funds (2005–2007) and from the Research Council for Culture and Society of the Academy of Finland (2007–2009). Even though the main funding period is over, the project is still very active and supported through funding from different sources (most notably, the British Academy’s Small Research Grant for 2009–2011 and a Postdoctoral Researcher’s Project awarded by the Academy of Finland for 2011–2013).