Enter Culture, Exit Arts?: The Transformation of Cultural Hierarchies in European Newspaper Culture Sections, 1960–2010, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Enter Culture, Exit Arts?

The Transformation of Cultural Hierarchies in European Newspaper Culture Sections, 1960–2010, 1st Edition

By Semi Purhonen, Riie Heikkilä, Irmak Karademir Hazir, Tina Lauronen, Carlos J. Fernández Rodríguez, Jukka Gronow


256 pages | 23 B/W Illus.

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Key debates of contemporary cultural sociology – the rise of the ‘cultural omnivore’, the fate of classical ‘highbrow’ culture, the popularization, commercialization and globalization of culture – deal with temporal changes. Yet, systematic research about these processes is scarce due to the lack of suitable longitudinal data. This book explores these questions through the lens of a crucial institution of cultural mediation – the culture sections in quality European newspapers – from 1960 to 2010.

Starting from the framework of cultural stratification and employing systematic content analysis both quantitative and qualitative of more than 13,000 newspaper articles, Enter Culture, Exit Arts? presents a synthetic yet empirically rich and detailed account of cultural transformation in Europe over the last five decades. It shows how classifications and hierarchies of culture have changed in course of the process towards increased cultural heterogeneity. Furthermore, it conceptualizes the key trends of rising popular culture and declining highbrow arts as two simultaneous processes: the one of legitimization of popular culture and the other of popularization of traditional legitimate culture, both important for the loosening of the boundary between ‘highbrow’ and ‘popular’.

Through careful comparative analysis and illustrative snapshots into the specific socio-historical contexts in which the newspapers and their representations of culture are embedded – in Finland, France, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UK – the book reveals the key patterns and diversity of European variations in the transformation of cultural hierarchies since the 1960s. The book is a collective endeavour of a large-scale international research project active between 2013 and 2018.


'A valuable and original comparative study addressing current debates about cultural change.'

- Alan Warde, Professor of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK

"Enter Culture, Exit Arts? is a meticulous, multi-method study that leverages comparisons across countries and over time to maximum effect. Through the comparison of trajectories of discourses on culture, the authors are able to make sense of large-scale cultural changes while also smartly pushing forward our understanding of numerous core issues in cultural sociology. The clear writing and organization of the book into thematic chapters will make it useful for both scholars and students."

- Shyon Baumann, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto, Canada

"This is a timely and pioneering contribution to cultural sociology, since many debates about the developments in classifications of cultural production and consumption are about change over time, but often without systematic longitudinal empirical analysis. The authors’ comparative analysis combines empirical solidity in describing and exploring the changes in detail with theoretical nuance in relating the empirical details to key sociological dynamics in the processes of ‘loosening’ the boundary between ‘highbrow’ and ‘popular’ cultural classifications."

- Bente Halkier, Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

"Drawing on an impressive data collection, this book contributes to the cross-national study of how cultural classification systems have changed over time. It is an excellent empirical study of transformations in the European cultural field in the past half-century that revisits important questions regarding artistic legitimation and cultural globalization, while also offering new directions for thinking about the evolution of cultural hierarchies."

- Marc Verboord, Associate Professor, Department of Media & Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

1. Introduction: Newspapers and the Study of Changing Cultural Hierarchies


2. The Transformation: On the Rise of Popular Culture and the Decline of Classical Highbrow Arts

3. Both Legitimization and Popularization: How Evaluations of Pop-Rock and Classical Music Have Become Increasingly Similar


4. Globalization: On the Tension between National and International Culture

5. Commercialization: On the Commercial Dimension and Advertisements

6. Beyond Culture: Politics and the Role of Culture in a Wider Socio-Historical Context


7. Packaging of Culture: On the ‘Crisis’ of Cultural Journalism and Journalistic Popularization

8. Conclusion

Appendix A: Collecting and coding the newspaper data

Appendix B: Additional tables


About the Authors

Semi Purhonen is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland. Between 2013 and 2018, he worked as academy research fellow at the Academy of Finland and was the Director of the research project ‘Cultural Distinctions, Generations and Change’, which lays the ground for the present book. His research interests are in the fields of cultural sociology, consumption, lifestyles and social stratification; sociology of age, generation and social change; and comparative research and sociological theory.

Riie Heikkilä is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tampere, Finland. Her main research interests include cultural capital, cultural consumption and social stratification, and comparative sociology in general. Her research project ‘Understanding Cultural Disengagement in Contemporary Finland’ has funding from the Academy of Finland until 2020.

Irmak Karademir Hazir is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, UK. Her research focuses on topics such as taste, socio-cultural change, Bourdiesian analysis of Turkish consumption scene and embodiment. She has worked as a board member of the European Sociological Association, Consumption Research Network and International Sociological Association, Research Committee on the Body in the Social Sciences.

Tina Lauronen is a PhD candidate at the Department of Social Research, the University of Helsinki, Finland. She has worked in the project ‘Cultural Distinctions, Generations and Change’ with a funding from Kone Foundation, and her dissertation focuses on the cultural globalization through the content analysis of the data from culture sections in quality European newspapers.

Carlos J. Fernández Rodríguez is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology of Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. His research interests are sociology of consumption, sociology of work and organizations, and industrial relations. He currently acts as the President of the Research Committee of Sociology of Consumption at the Spanish Federation of Sociology.

Jukka Gronow is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Uppsala University, Sweden. His professional interests cover social theory, economic sociology and the sociology of consumption as well as the social and cultural history of the Soviet Union. His latest book is Fashion Meets Socialism: Fashion Industry in the Soviet Union after the Second World War (SKS 2015, co-authored with Sergey Zhuravlev).

About the Series


Culture, Economy and the Social

This series establishes the importance of innovative contemporary, comparative and historical work on the relations between social, cultural and economic change. It publishes empirically-based research that is theoretically informed, that critically examines the ways in which social, cultural and economic change is framed and made visible, and that is attentive to perspectives that tend to be ignored or side-lined by grand theorising or epochal accounts of social change. The series addresses the diverse manifestations of contemporary capitalism, and considers the various ways in which the `social', `the cultural' and `the economic' are apprehended as tangible sites of value and practice. It is explicitly comparative, publishing books that work across disciplinary perspectives, cross-culturally, or across different historical periods.

We are particularly focused on publishing books in the following areas that fit with the broad remit of the series:

  • Cultural consumption
  • Cultural economy
  • Cities and urban change
  • Materiality, sociality and the post-human
  • Culture and media industries
  • Culture and governance
  • Emerging forms of cultural and economic practice

The series is actively engaged in the analysis of the different theoretical traditions that have contributed to critiques of the `cultural turn'. We are particularly interested in perspectives that engage with Bourdieu, Foucauldian approaches to knowledge and cultural practices, Actor-network approaches, and with those that are associated with issues arising from Deleuze's work around complexity, affect or topology. The series is equally concerned to explore the new agendas emerging from current critiques of the cultural turn: those associated with the descriptive turn for example. Our commitment to interdisciplinarity thus aims at enriching theoretical and methodological discussion, building awareness of the common ground has emerged in the past decade, and thinking through what is at stake in those approaches that resist integration to a common analytical model.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General