The cultural practices of the French in the digital age

Since the early 1970s, the ministry of Culture and Communication regularly carries out a survey on the cultural practices of the French. It is within the framework of a mission of knowledge of the public of the culture, which was entrusted to the research department of the Ministry of cultural affairs at its creation, that these surveys on cultural practices have started. At this time, the figures were rare, and the quantitative tool was seen as powerful.1

The first general survey on the cultural practices of the French, was launched in 1973 in the wake of the Insee was carried out some years previously on the behaviors of leisure. In 1989, the publication of the results of the latest survey of cultural, and especially the publication of a summary of the developments since 19732 gives a kick off to national surveys on the attendance of cultural facilities.

The results of the survey focus the critical. The figures of the cultural practices are used to point out the “failures” and “failures” of the cultural policy of government : in front of the apparent weakness of the democratisation of cultural practices, one concludes to the impotence of the public authorities, and the Ministry of Culture in the evolution of practices. In addition, there is the question of the negative effects that the cultural policy would have produced. As well as the notes Vincent Dubois, “the reception and reading of the survey operate in a sense almost exclusively negative” (p30). However, there has been in these reviews, a misunderstanding of what could make a survey on the cultural practices. As recalled by Philippe Chantepie in the foreword to the new investigation of Donnat “the results of the investigations of cultural Practices of the French do not, and cannot, be read as” a dashboard decennial of the ministry of Culture and Communication, an indicator of the performance of cultural policy ” (p8)

Today is the fifth edition of this national survey (1973, 1981, 1989 and 1997), which has just been published.3 This small last addresses in turn the various forms of participation in cultural life (reading books, listening to music, attendance at facilities and events, cultural, amateur practices), and gives great importance to the new technologies related to the development of the digital. The most striking phenomenon of the last decade is actually spread extremely fast from the computer and the internet in households. At a time when more than half of the French have at home a broadband connection and where more than a third of them use the internet every day for personal use, how are reading books, listening to music, or practice in amateur arts activities ?

With the new context of the rise of digital and the internet, a methodological challenge govern this new survey : it was necessary, both to make the results of the 2008 survey are comparable to those from previous surveys, and therefore continue to provide answers to the questions that were the basis of the investigation (how is the reading of books, listening to music…), but it is also necessary to provide a place for new technologies and digital practices, for which no such question did not exist in 1973 ! It was therefore necessary to provide a precise description of these new practices, without forgetting the traditional cultural practices, in order to also wonder about their articulation.

Learn more :

  • the synthesis of the results
  • the companion site
  • the questionnaire of the survey

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