Cultural Activity In The Context Of Cultural Capital And Innovative Modernization Processes


The cultural capital of the region's inhabitants is one of the significant resources in the regional innovation processes. Cultural activity is analyzed as an indicator of the cultural capital realization, while it refers to the frequency of individual visits to cultural institutions. The existing research practices in this field are conducted within the framework of the P. Bourdieu cultural capital concept and the theory of rational behavior. Finally, data on cultural activity in the city of Tomsk were analyzed in order to highlight dominant patterns in visits to cultural institutions by its residents on the basis of data obtained in the research in 2011-2015. Respondents of original survey described their attitude and attendance to different cultural institutions and preferred leisure, such as visiting libraries, theaters, circus, museums, stadiums, clubs, discos and cinemas. Also, there were gathered data about respondent's age, social, family and demographic statuses, education, wellbeing and so on. Correlation analysis shoved correlations between some of these indicators but also revealed surprising lack of reliable correlations between variables, which are "connected by default" in layman's common views. This survey is also important because of Tomsk regional specifics: Tomsk is one of the most modernized and young Russian regions, because of great number of universities and IT-enterprises. This makes social capital studies in Tomsk region even more important.

Keywords: Сultural capitalcultural activityinnovative potential


Innovative economy is the decisive sector in the postindustrial society, and the level of education, intellectual abilities, creativity of employees are the most important characteristics that ensure it. "The class of professionals" or the class of intellectuals comes to the fore. Richard Florida concept of the "creative class" is one of the most well-known modern theories describing the correlations between economic growth, educational levels and tolerance, Florida suggested a connection between the favorable conditions of the urban environment that attract intellectuals and the economic potential of the city. The thesis of the correlation between the regional economic growth and characteristics of the social environment (in particular, the level of tolerance and level of culture) seems intuitively obvious, although its empirical justification seems a rather nontrivial matter. Researchers, who try to apply the concept of "creative class" to Russian reality, are forced to point out that creativity in Russian society is still a potential state, although they emphasize that the main task of modernization in Russia lies not in the technogenic sphere, but in field of the modern society structures and modern human potential development, "and the creative class should play the notorious role in this process" (Barbashin et al, 2014). Socio-cultural transformation of society underlies modernization of the economy (Lapin, 2009).

In this article we draw on results of a study implemented within the framework of the project "Sociocultural Evolution of Russia and its Regions", launched in 2005 by the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which states degree of cultural potential realization in region as one of the important indicators of the regional modernization level. The concept of "cultural potential" is close to the notion of creativity (although, of course, they are far from identical), in any case, it is a question of certain characteristics of social space and human capital which becomes the basis for the information economy. In the methodology underlying this project, the level of the region inhabitants education, the degree and quality of information consumption from the media, the level of religiosity, interethnic and interreligious tolerance, entertainment establishments (Nemirovsky&Nemirovskaya, 2012) were mentioned as the empirical indicators of the cultural potential and its implementation in individual regions. We focused on such a specific indicator as cultural activity, which, in the framework of this methodology, is used to characterize the degree of cultural capital realization in the region. The cultural potential of individuals cannot be manifested as interest of just one or another cultural institution. It is known that in the leading countries since the 1980s there is a steady growth in demand for cultural services, which is reflected in the rapid increase in the attendance of theaters, museums, libraries. E.g., the attendance of American museums increased 2.1 times between 1985 and 2000, the audience of opera theaters grew 2.2 times during the same period (Shekova, 2002). The attendance of museums in Russia was in the 2000s. below the world average level in 2-3 times, attendance of theaters - in 6-9 times. The reasons for such a decline in cultural institutions interest in Russia cannot be called purely economic - in any case, in 2014, the attendance of Russian theaters, despite the economic crisis, increased sharply (by 17%, according to Interfax (2015)). Proceeding from the possibilities of converting capital (economic, human, cultural), (Radaev, 2003) one can speak about the possible transformation of cultural capital into an economic one in its modern innovative hypostasis.

Cultural capital and the level of cultural activity are not the same for the different region's population in Russia. We also proceeded from the assumption that the level of cultural activity is indirectly related to the notorious "creativity" of the population and that it can be higher in more innovative regions of the country.

Studies of the cultural and recreational activities are quite popular in Europe and the US and this studies are usually conducted in the context of practical sociological research of a marketing type. Researchers express an interest in factors determining the attendance of theaters, exhibitions, sporting events, changing patterns of cultural behavior of people during their lives and the reasons for these changes. In such studies, sociologists, as a rule, turn either to the model of rational behavior, or to the P. Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital.

In this article we reviewed the main approaches to the interpretation of the cultural behavior patterns and then turned to an analysis of the differences in cultural activity among the inhabitants of the Tomsk region found on the materials of a study carried out in 2015. This work was performed by the authors in collaboration with Tomsk Polytechnic University within the project in Evaluation and enhancement of social, economic and emotional well-being of older adults under the Agreement No 14.Z50.31.0029. Factors determining the cultural activity of the population of the innovation region (with understanding of cultural activity as part of the cultural potential and capital of the actors of modernization processes) are of special interest to us.

Problem Statement

Cultural activity or, more precisely, cultural participation is usually defined as:

  • frequency of visits to cultural events;

  • consumption of "cultural goods" through the media;

  • the practice of cultural activities, i.e. participation in cultural events as their creator, agent, etc. (Ateca-Amestoy, 2008).

The first definition is suitable for our purposes, we will use the term cultural activity as a frequency of visiting cultural events, which usually include concerts, operas, exhibitions in museums and galleries of art.

To explain the cultural activity of people, researchers use different sociological models. Most important and detailed are the following two: the model of rational choice and the concept of cultural capital.

In accordance with the model of rational choice, which is popular among economists, a person strives to achieve a certain goal and makes a decision based on maximizing his benefits while minimizing costs. The simplest use of this model involves considering the goal of cultural activity as receiving pleasure or satisfaction. This simplest goal - the acquisition of pleasure - is divided into a number of composite goal elements, depending on the characteristics of the individual's personality in attempts to build more rigorous model. So, more specific goals can include relaxation, self-knowledge, personal development, pleasure, creative expression, intellectual stimulation, socialization, strengthening of family life, political participation, satisfaction of needs not related to work, development of self-confidence, meditation, liberation of emotions or energy, involvement in friendly competition, winning prestige (Bouder-Pailler, 1999). The goals themselves can be social (focused on interaction with other people) or individual (the search for pleasures, emotions, intellectual or emotional personal development). E.g., Daniel Bader-Paley (Bouder-Pailler, 1999) proposed the following classification of motives for attending the theater: external and internal. External (social hedonism) fix the fact that for a person visit to the theater is caused by a willing "to be with others" or "to belong to a certain community", and it turns out that a visit to the theater is perceived as means of achieving some other goal behind a visit to the performance.

Internal, non-utilitarian motives reflect the moment that a visit to the theater can be of pleasure in itself: emotional (as a person seeks to be involved in emotional experiences), intellectual, when the need for intellectual aestheticism or pure amusement is satisfied (which is the most obvious goal of visiting all fun cultural activities).

A variation on the rational choice theory application to the cultural activity interpretation can be described as a classic example from game theory, related to the choice of spouses from two types of recreational pastime: the sport game prefered by husband and the cultural event where the wife would like to go, the so-called "War of the sexes". A man himself gets more benefit (pleasure) from going to a sporting event, and, consequently, he goes, e.g., to football, lonely woman - from a hike to a cultural event, therefore, she goes to the opera. In a married couple the choice is more complicated. It is usually described as follows:

Table 1 -
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That choice, if both of them want to go somewhere together and they are compelled to reckon with the opposite aspirations of the partner, when it is made, gives more benefits to one person (e.g. if it was decided to go to football) And second partner is less satisfied (a woman forced to go to match with her husband), but still this has a benefit, different from zero, because they spend time together anyway (Ateca-Amestoy, 2008).

Another concept in the cultural activity analysis is the P. Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital. Bourdieu saw cultural activity as both the attribute of belonging to the upper classes and the mechanism for the transfer of certain values between generations in the upper class families, who later convert it to other types of capital, including economic ones. Thus, Bourdieu developed the idea of the "idle class" of T. Veblen, who interpreted the cultural activity of individuals as a their class position derivative. The cultural activity standards disseminating mechanism works when higher social status groups, acting as reference groups, set a certain standard of cultural activity, introducing a fashion to certain cultural events (e.g., in the Soviet Union the metropolitan intelligentsia created in 1960-80th "fashion" for classical music and opera (Sokolov, 2013). Other groups often tend to focus on the social practices of a higher-ranking reference group, such as the aristocracy, and, as Bourdieu pointed out, the group that "launches" certain cultural practices changes it to a new one after previous trends become public .

Bourdieu's assumption that cultural capital serves as a means of the higher layers dominant position broadcasting was, by the way, repeatedly tested empirically by comparing the cultural activity of school pupils (visiting various cultural events) belonging to families of different status and different prosperity, in order to discover the presence or absence of correlations between status, educational success and the specificity of cultural activity (Werner, 2004;Sullivan, 2001;Katsillis&Rubinson,1990). The results of these studies turned out to be rather ambiguous: e.g., in Germany (Werner, 2004), sociologists did not find empirical evidence that high-class representatives use cultural capital, the factors of "reading" and primary school achievements were more important for success in school, but in the United States the studies of Di Maggio, on the contrary, revealed obvious correlations between cultural activity and the different classes pupil's achievements (Werner, 2004). Nevertheless, P. Bourdieu's thesis (that the marker of belonging to a higher social class or the desire to merge with it remains a strong motivating factor for refined cultural activity) is still discussible. .

Research Questions

Briefly, there are following questions, this study tries to answer at:

  • What is the cultural capital of the inhabitants of the Tomsk region?

  • What are the correlations between the various elements of the cultural capital of Tomsk?

  • What factors influence the popularity of various cultural institutions and forms of leisure?

  • What are the differences between the cultural capital of different demographic groups?

  • What are the reasons of such differences?

Purpose of the Study

In our research wetried to identify the factors influencing the cultural activity of the population basing on the data obtained from the research conducted in the Tomsk region and their subsequent processing by mathematical statistics methods, including by means of correlation analysis, in order to search for statistical dependencies and relationships between different factorgroups.

In particular, we were interested in whether the attendance of various cultural institutions is influenced by such factors as gender of the respondent, age, marital status and the number of children, as well as his subjective social status - the layer to which the respondent refers himself. The factor of education was also very important, since theoretically the high level of education and/or employment in the sphere of science and education can manifest itself as a higher level of cultural activity and, accordingly, affect the formation of the cultural capital of the population.

Research Methods

In the field of cultural activity empirical studies, which are quite popular in Europe and the US, researchers tend to search correlations between three types of variables: the frequency of participation in cultural events, the characteristics of participants and the factors that determine the cultural activity of these participants. In doing so, they combine both models: the rational choice model and the concept of cultural capital, considering, e.g., cultural capital as one of the factors that determine the rational choice of a person. So, usually the following factors of influence are distinguished: the sociodemographic characteristics of individuals, different tastes, the availability of free time, differences in the cultural capital level and characteristics. Numerous researches were conducted on factors affecting the attendance of specific cultural events, such as theaters or opera halls (Montgomery& Robinson, 2010). Income, age, education, race/nationality and gender were usually chosen as independent variables of the regression models tested in these studies. It was noted, in particular, that the influence of the education level was most pronounced on cultural events. Stigler and Becker (Montgomery & Robinson, 2010) called it the influence of the "personal human capital" - a factor, which consists of the past consumer experience accumulation. According to this studies individuals are seen as consumers who meet their cultural needs in accordance with what patterns of cultural activity they have developed basing on their own experience. If an individual has a specific education in a particular cultural sphere (e.g., a professional acquaintance with ballet or classical music, opera, etc.) this largely determines the patterns of his cultural activity.

Another factor tested in such studies is the factor of marriage. In particular, it was found that the marriage reduces the level of cultural activity for both male and female, and the most obvious explanation of this statement is that spouses have no need in visiting places like clubs or pubs in order to find a partner. Another side effect of the family establishing is the influence of the cultural capital of one spouse on the preferences of another: e.g., married men visit cultural events as operas, exhibitions, concerts, etc., more often than non-family ones. If one of the spouses has a specific type of qualification in the arts, then often such capital is adopted by the second spouse (Montgomery & Robinson, 2010): if a woman loves a classical opera, then there is a high probability that her husband will also attend the opera. By the way, the opposite effect (the increase in attendance of sports events) is not so obvious.

Another popular and interesting trend in the cultural activity studies is the search for correlations between the attendance of cultural events as an independent variable and its potential influence on the level of individual's psychological health. A number of studies have shown that cultural activity, in particular visits to cinemas, theaters, museums, sporting events, reading books and singing or playing music, increases the resistance to illnesses: apparently, this effect occurs through aт emotional excitement stimulation therapeutic influence on the immune system (Bygren, Konlaan, & Johansson, 1996). E.g., the Norwegian study (Cuypers et al, 2012) showed a strong positive relationship between the level of cultural activity and the level of anxiety, physical well-being and a propensity for depression. Thus, the approaches and explanatory mechanisms of cultural activity are very diverse.

In our study, cultural activity were important for considering it in the context of cultural capital, which characterizes the population of the region as participants in socio-cultural and socioeconomic modernization processes. The empirical base of our research is a massive set of results of sociological surveys conducted on the territory of the Tomsk region, and decoding interviews with prominent cultural and art figures, heads of theaters, museums, leisure centers, etc.

Some results can be obtained already using a simple frequency representation of the accumulated statistical data. We also used correlation and cluster analysis to find the relationships between different indicators of the economic and cultural life of the population and to identify typical categories of the population with similar characteristics The presence of statistical interrelations between the indicators characterizing the demographic characteristics of the respondents (gender, age, marital status, number of children), their assessment of their own social status and the frequency of visits to various cultural events was investigated using Spearman's rank correlation coefficients.


In accordance with the data of our study, which are confirmed by the data of a similar study in 2011, the attendance of various cultural events in Tomsk (2015) was as follows (Table 2 ):

Table 2 -
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Since the questionnaire did not have a "do not visit at all" answer to the question "Do you visit these institutions of culture and how often? ", it seems that respondents who did not attend this institution were forced to choose the option "I find it difficult to answer" or refused. Thus, about a third part of respondents do not attend the above-mentioned cultural institutions.

A preliminary look at the table suggests that the most unpopular cultural institution is the circus, which is obvious, since the circus is usually visited by parents with children no more often than once a year or even several years. In addition, there is no permanent circus in the Tomsk region. Libraries, theatres and museums are also not very popular, but they seem to have their regular audience - 24, 18 and 17% of respondents respectively visit this places at least several times a year, which proves media reports (Interfax Agency, 2015). Most often visited one is cinema - 20% of respondents visited cinemas one or several times a month, almost half (47%) visit it several times a year; 26% go more or less regularly to the stadium; 22% - to the disco. It is interesting, that mentioned distribution of cultural institutions attendance differs little from the distribution of attendance in another large Siberian city with a high level of educational sphere development (Krasnoyarsk (Nemirovsky & Nemirovskaya, 2012)), where regular (at least once a month) visits to cultural and entertaining institutions in 2010 looked as follows: 11.7% of respondents went to the library (in 2012 - 8.7%), to the theater - 3.0% (3.3% respectively), 0.4% (0.5%) to the circus, 1.5% to the museum, 8.8% to the stadium (6.8%), clubs on interests - 8.6% (4.8%), discotheques - 9.7% (8.1%), in cinemas - 19.3% (17.6%). At the same time, the attendance on theaters, museums, libraries and stadiums is somewhat higher in both cities than, e.g., in Tyumen-city, where the educational structure is less developed, but the average income level of the population is higher (Romashkin & Davydenko, 2011).

Correlation analysis results are given in Table. 3 and 4 for the male and female respondents separately. The tables show pairs of values, where the first number is the correlation coefficient, and the number in brackets is the significance level. Traditionally, in statistics, significance levels of 0.05 and 0.01 are considered as indicators of sufficient reliability (the probability that the judgment is erroneous), values greater than 0.05 indicate that it is impossible to reliably announce the existence of a correlation relationship, values less than 0, 01, on the contrary, speak of a reliable correlation.

Table 3 -
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Table 4 -
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In all these tables, reliable correlations are identified by three asterisks. Only one asterisk indicates pairs of values that do not demonstrate a reliable relationship.

It was shown that for the male population of the region there is no reliable correlation between the level of education and the form of leisure activities, at the same time, the social stratum and the level of prosperity directly affect most forms of them, as the number of children and marital status often limit the frequency of visits to clubs, discos and other entertainment. At the same time, more "cultural" forms of leisure do not show statistical interdependencies with these indicators (which, incidentally, can be explained by the rare frequency of visits to such events, which is hardly affected by marital status).

Women demonstrate much less dependence of their cultural preferences on external factors. As with men, less number of children correlates with the greater frequency of entertainments (Ivankina et al., 2015). It can be assumed that in both cases children reduce their parent's opportunity to spend time organizing and conducting their own leisure. In terms of cultural institutions attendance (e.g. for theaters and museums) women show less correlations on their family and financial situation with visit frequencies than men.

The second group (tables 5 and 6 ) reflects the correlation between the subjective social status of the respondents and their demographic characteristics. It is interesting that for male respondents the only characteristic that correlates reliably with all categories of the respondent's assessed status in the society is their age, whereas in female showed the interrelations between all possible indicators. It should be noted a somewhat unusual behavior of the assessment of the "social situation in the region", which is less closely related to similar estimates for the country and for the town, however, its behavior can be explained by the fact that this issue, being in fact the third one-type issue in a row, could cause irritation among respondents and became a record holder in the number of absences, refusals to respond and "protest" answers.

Table 5 -
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Table 6 -
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The third group of tables ( 7 and 8 ) is devoted to the interdependence between the frequency of various cultural event's attendance and demonstrates the presence of a reliable correlation between the attendance of cultural events for both men and women. Presumably, this can be explained by the fact that the most active respondents who live a full-fledged social life and have access to various parts of it actively and willingly attend a variety of events, whereas respondents who do not have access to places of their holding, financial opportunity, free time or simply desire, do not participate in any forms of cultural activity at all.

Table 7 -
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Table 8 -
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Thus, it can be assumed that the population of Tomsk is divided into three groups in accordance with the criterion of cultural activity:

  • Active visitors of "cultural entertainment" (and, as noted above, those who actively attend "mass culture institutions" as discotheque, stadium, cinema) also visit more "cultural institutions" (museum, theater, libraries). We can say about this group that there is high percentage of young people under 29 years, who have not yet build a family. Girls are more active than boys: they visit theaters, museums and even discos more often and regularly (several times a year the theater is visited 22% of girls and 15% of boys, the museum - 27% against 19%, discos- 52%to 41%). Only visits to cinemas and libraries are equally high in both boys and girls (several times a year the cinema is visited by 75% of boys and girls and the library - 31% by both of them). Stadium attendance is also approximately the same for boys and girls (49% and 47%, respectively, visited the stadium a few times a year). Another, smaller, component of this group is the respondents of middle and above average social status of different ages.

  • A group of less active "family respondents" includes spouses with children, cultural activity is reduced in terms of visits to the disco clubs, stadiums and cinemas, as well as, partially, the museum - in this respect, the results of our study coincided with the results of the European studies that were described above . One of the most obvious reasons is that discos and cinemas are the places where people visit in order to meet friends or to show their relationship. The establishment of a family in Russia means, as a rule, the birth of children (to a greater extent than in Europe), the family status negatively affects the entertainment: the incentive and/or the opportunities (economic, temporary, etc.) reduces when a child borns.

  • The group of the respondents inactive in terms of cultural activities includes a high percentage of people below average status and people of age over the 60 years. It should be noted that people over the age of 60 as a whole actually stop their cultural activity (it decreases noticeably after 45-59 years), except that elderly men and women visit libraries, often enough, while some women continue to go to theaters and museums.

With respect to factors that determine cultural activity, we can say the following: there are two interesting facts - the absence of a noticeable influence of the education factor on the attendance of cultural institutions, including the theater and the museum, and the absence of a noticeable influence of the subjective social status on cultural activity (i.e., subjective assessment of the well-being of the material situation) among women.

With regard to education, the lack of a statistical relationship between cultural activity and education is somewhat surprising, but it may be partly explained by the following points: firstly, it can be assumed that the cultural activity of people with higher education is not fixed by the options for answers of our questionnaire - in particular, It has already been noted, it does not include, e.g., the option of visiting concert and / or organ halls or other types of specific cultural events, so that an additional clarification on the cultural activity of people with higher education (and separately - related to the sphere of education) requires a more detailed investigation. Secondly, it is likely that the education factor as such is really not determinative for the isolation of culturally active groups in Russia and an important role is played by economic status (which does not correlate with the level of education directly in Russia). This may indicate that in Russia, at least in Siberia, the "cultural elite", which P. Bourdieu wrote about in his works, is actually missing is a social stratum that could be considered as "forming culture" and setting cultural samples adopted by other social groups ().

The second observation can be interpreted as follows: most cultural institutions in Tomsk are fairly democratic at the cost of the visit, and the number of more expensive and more "status" institutions, like the organ hall, is limited, as is the size of their audience, which may have been poorly represented in the sample. The Tomsk Philharmonic Society is just starting work on attracting a wider audience to its halls.

So, in Tomsk there is a rather high attendance of cultural institutions in comparison with other regions (Kasinsky et. al., 2015), which indirectly confirms the existence of a certain connection between the innovativeness of the region (i.e. stated by RF gov. Order ʋ 22, 2015) and the indicator such as cultural activity. At the same time, as the data of our research show, high cultural activity is more characteristic of the young part of the population, more adults, families and elderly sharply reduce the attendance of cultural institutions, including theaters and museums. The educational factor is not determinative, and there is no positive correlation between educational level and cultural activity in both men and women.

Thus, the cultural potential in Tomsk appears to be more pronounced in the student environment; The group of more culturally active people over 30 was not singled out. It should be noted that the range of available cultural institutions is significantly narrowed by the city/village criterion, therefore the contribution to the cultural capital of the region is still made mainly by the urban population of Tomsk, which concentrates regional modernization innovative resources.

On the one hand, these observations indicate that there is a population layer in Tomsk that really demonstrates a certain cultural potential, but, on the other hand, there is a lack of formed "cultural elite", possessing cultural capital (along with educational), which should be a stable resource for innovative development of the region (or it just weakly manifests itself according to the criterion of cultural activity in the given questionnaire format).


This work was carried out by the author in cooperation with Tomsk Polytechnic University within the project framework on evaluation and improvement of social, economic and emotional wellbeing of elderly people in accordance with the Agreement No.14.Z50.31.0029.


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16 April 2018

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Romanchukov, S., & Berestneva, E. (2018). Cultural Activity In The Context Of Cultural Capital And Innovative Modernization Processes. In F. Casati, G. А. Barysheva, & W. Krieger (Eds.), Lifelong Wellbeing in the World - WELLSO 2017, vol 38. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 370-382). Future Academy.