How Do Graduates and Non-Graduates Imagine Their Lives after Turning 60? a Computer-Assisted Analysis of Open-Ended Survey Responses

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:20
Oral Presentation
Maximilian WEBER, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Previous research has shown that different leisure activities are carried out by individuals’ social status. Numerous methods can be applied to analyse differences in the cultural field. In contrast to previous research, a semi-automated text analyses method – structural topic model (STM) – is used. In the 1990s the debate about the benefits of closed and open-ended survey questions revealed that the latter are more difficult to analyse because human coding is needed, probably therefore open-ended questions are very rare in today’s sociologically motivated large-scale surveys. In this study topic models are used to analyse answers from an open-ended question in the British National Child Development Study (NCDS) mostly automatically. The respondents of the panel study were asked how they imagine their life when they are 60. The answers of the 50-year-old responders are analysed using a structural topic model (STM).

From Bourdieu we know that cultural choices are related to individuals’ social positions. Different sports and leisure activities are carried out according to cultural capital level (e.g. education). To test whether answers in the open-ended survey responses from the NCDS show a similar pattern, differences in topical prevalence are analysed by educational level of the respondents (N=7222).

Results show differences in topic prevalence according to academic qualification and gender. Regarding their imagined life one decade later, adult men are more likely to write about playing golf or tennis and watching sport than women. For university education, the findings support earlier research on the frequency of cultural activities carried out. Respondents with an academic degree are more likely to mention terms from the art topic in their answers. In other words, they imagine doing art related activities more often at the age of 60 than respondents without a degree.