Saturday, December 22, 2007

Crashing stereotypes

Researchers at Oxford University find that socioeconomic status is not a predictor of cultural interests. "Billy Elliott – the fictional working-class boy from a northern mining village with a passion for ballet – is not the social freak he might seem to be. Equally, someone with an impressive ancestry and blue blood coursing through his veins is not necessarily any more cultured than the rest of us," Andy McSmith reports in The Independent:

A Zogby International survey, conducted in June for the Norman Lear Center of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School, found that its sample of 3,939 American adults expressed roughly equal preferences for classical music and rock:

(via Alex Ross, via Jody Rosen)

This research, signaling the collapse of the old highbrow/lowbrow divide, complements my contention that notions of "mainstream" and "niche" musical interests are obsolete. "Each listener's preferences differ, at least incrementally, from everyone else's. Each of us is a subatomic particle, darting between dissimilar and often distant points in an expanding universe of musical ideas," I wrote in a February essay for NewMusicBox: