Cross-National Comparative Lifestyle Research: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations and a Two-Country Illustration

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: Booth 51
Oral Presentation
Yannick LEMEL , Laboratoire de Sociologie Quantitative, Malakoff, France
Tally KATZ-GERRO , Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
In this presentation, we offer a comparison of cultural stratification in France and Israel, with a specific emphasis on the association between the social field and the cultural field. Analysis of cultural stratification is interested in the degree to which individuals from different social groups are able to take part in culture and develop a meaningful relationship with it. In turn, such a relationship affects life chances in the realms of education, occupation, and social status. So, analysis of cultural stratification is a powerful tool for analyzing social stratification systems and to better understand the similarities and the differences between countries in this realm.

Research on this topic has developed significantly, both empirically and theoretically, these last fifteen years, but relatively little attention has been granted to research that adopts a cross-national comparative approach and that asks whether patterns of association are similar in different national contexts. Such a comparative perspective will be particularly useful to test theoretical predictions regarding levels of cultural participation and their correlates in societal settings characterized by different social structures, cultural policies, market structures, and historical traditions.

We think of our contribution as joining a discussion about lifestyle spaces and cross-national differences to be complemented and continued with similar analysis in other countries. Since research on cultural stratification focuses almost exclusively on European and North American countries, the comparison between France and Israel is potentially very revealing. As all cross-national research entails methodological complexities, we treat the comparison between France and Israel with caution. The general picture shows that cross-national comparison helps us to understand and further theorize the way lifestyle spaces are linked with social positions.