Television Consumption and Social Stratification: An Italian Case Study

Monday, 16 July 2018: 20:15
Oral Presentation
Simona DILIBERTO, University of Palermo, Italy
Maurizio PISATI, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
The practices of cultural consumption have long been considered as tools that maintain high the boundaries between the classes. Cultural tastes and choices create people's lifestyles and cover every aspect of everyday life: from higher practices typical of the highest social classes (such as going to museums, listening to classical music, etc.), to those easily accessible by a wider and heterogeneous audience (such as going to the cinema or watching television). Considering the differences between the practices of cultural consumption, it has been assumed that cultural habits could reflect the social positions of individuals who adopt them, becoming a differentiation tool between social classes and an homogeneity tool within them.

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether a particular type of cultural consumption, the television one, highlights a correspondence between the socio-economic position and the choice of the TV-program to see, or if the television can break down the borders between classes, reaching all individuals without distinction. We chose to investigate the relationship between the individual’s education level (that defines the class position) and the television products selected, through a quantitative methodology. In addition, it was investigated whether the connections between social stratification and television consumption differ according to sex, estimating the probability of choosing to see a certain set of TV-programs not only in relation to the higher level of education, but also in relation to gender. Finally, a longitudinal analysis was carried out in order to investigate if there have been changes in the Italian TV consumption over a decade (1995-2005).

The study was carried out considering the main theories about tastes and cultural consumption and their relation to the socio-economic positions of individuals: the homology approach (Bourdieu 1979); the individualization approach (Beck 1986) and the omnivore-univore approach (Peterson 1992).