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A life course perspective on cultural capital acquisition: How the timing and duration of musical socialization affect the taste for classical music and opera✰

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Abstract

We analyze survey data on liking to listen to and attendance at classical music concerts and opera, as well as music lessons at different points in the life course, to advance our understanding of cultural capital acquisition. We assess a series of hypotheses based on insights from Bourdieu's perspective on habitus formation and on insights from a life course perspective. By drawing on a life course perspective, we are able to specify how adult highbrow music tastes might be influenced by the timing and duration of musical socialization after childhood. Moreover, we assess how these influences are mediated by achieved SES in adulthood. Using data from the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (N=4925), we find that adult highbrow music tastes are influenced by the timing and duration of musical socialization, including during adolescence and early adulthood. We argue that this finding supports an important complement to a Bourdieusian perspective and that a life course perspective offers greater specificity and explanatory power than a perspective that heavily weights childhood experiences. A key implication of our findings is that cultural capital scholarship should broaden its undue focus on early childhood experiences of esthetic socialization.

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Ho, L., Wheaton, B., & Baumann, S. (2020). A life course perspective on cultural capital acquisition: How the timing and duration of musical socialization affect the taste for classical music and opera✰. Poetics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.poetic.2020.101498

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