The cultural practices and sports of the French

Philippe Coulangeon, who is the author of the Landmarks on the Sociology of cultural practices (Discovery, 2003), writes with Yannick Lemel the number of Economics and Statistics, December 2009 dedicated to the cultural practices and sports of the French. All two update, from the data in the pane “cultural practices and sports” of the continuing survey on the living conditions of households in 2003, the INSEE – which include the use of radio and television, the reading, the outputs are “cultural” (cinema, theatre, concert, etc), amateur (drawing, music, singing, writing, etc), sports, but also hunting or fishing – that the social differentiation of attitudes on leisure is first of all governed by a logic of accumulation, which distinguishes between individuals according to the number and frequency of activities.

How to interpret this logic of accumulation ?

The thesis of Becker and Stigler (” De Gustibus Non est Disputandum “, The American Economic Review, vol 67, n° 2, pp. 76-90 1977) according to which the satisfaction of consumption obeys in some cases to a principle of utility increasing (for example, the satisfaction of listening to music grows with the multiplication of listening experiences) can certainly be extended to a number of other practices. Thus,

Even as he creates in the music listening a capital specific skill reinvested in the listen to music time to time, it increases ” productivity “, by encouraging and facilitating access to new parts, or more demanding, the practice of a number of cultural activities or sports requiring initiation or training is in any way a character that is self-sustaining. Each episode of “consumption” or the practice encourages the reiteration of an experience that becomes less “expensive” to produce, by lowering barriers, symbolic, cultural, psychological, or even physiological, in the case of the sports training – the commitment in practice, and which produces more satisfaction.

The logic of accumulation can also be explained in terms of a career (Becker, Howard, Outsiders. Studies in the sociology of deviance, Métailié, 1985). The cumulative nature of the activities must be connected to the forms and contexts of socialization of individuals. Thus the accumulation of the practices is ” correlated to the number and diversity of encounters and contacts, with associated opportunities to engage in new practices “.

Only three activities are beyond the logic of “cumulativité” : the fishing, the hunting activities are not widespread, quite independent of the level and the diversity of other practices, and especially the use of television, which is the practice of leisure the more commonplace.

The more one watches television, the less chances of having other activities and the more activities and less one looks at it. The only activities whose level of practice is positively correlated with the time spent watching television are the fishing, the reading of regional dailies (but the correlation is very low, almost zero) and… the reading of magazine of tv (very significant this time). In all other cases, the correlation coefficients are negative.

The social logic of the accumulation of activities

If the entire population has a number of activities, the propensity to accumulation strongly increases according to the level of education. Behind the educational success, hides the social origin, which ” is at once the origin of educational success and the eclecticism of practice “.

If the effect of the school on the level of some practices appears to be direct or playing certain sports that are the object of school learning, more generally, the effect of education rather works in an indirect way, ” the school is not promoting not only the development of specific skills, but also a general ability to learn and process information of all kinds (Ganzeboom, 1982). “We can also defend the idea according to which, the provisions acquired in the school context are transposable in an infinite universe of practices, in and outside of the school setting.

Must not be neglected the significant effect of economic resources (in terms of activities that require the acquisition of goods or commercial services), age (activism, sports and culture decreases significantly with the advance in age), and the degree of urbanisation of the commune of residence. Even if the explanatory power of the socio-professional category is less significant than that of the diploma, there is a specific effect of the socio-occupational situation on the activism of sports and culture : income, educational attainment, activity status and place of residence to be equivalent, the characteristics of the activity and professional situation, distinguish between the attitudes observed in the recreational activities.

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