Legitimization, Popularization and the Transformation of Cultural Hierarchies in European Newspaper Culture Sections, 1960–2010

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Semi PURHONEN, University of Tampere, Finland
Riie HEIKKILÄ, University of Tampere, Finland
Irmak KARADEMIR-HAZIR, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
Tina LAURONEN, University of Tampere, Finland
Carlos FERNÁNDEZ RODRÍGUEZ, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Jukka GRONOW, University of Helsinki, Finland
The paper summarizes and reflects on some of the main results of a large-scale research project exploring the ways in which cultural classifications and hierarchies have changed from 1960 to 2010. Have the old distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ dwindled and lead us into a more de-hierarchized, democratized and tolerant culture? The project tackles these questions through the lens of a specific institution in the field of cultural production – the culture sections in European quality newspapers – over the last fifty years, covering wide geographical variety. The newspapers included in the study range from two Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden) to two large Western European countries (France, the UK) and finally to two Mediterranean countries (Spain, Turkey). The newspapers are examined by systematic content analysis, both quantitative and qualitative. The analyses focus on the supposed trend toward increased heterogeneity of the cultural content, the rise of popular culture and the corresponding decline of traditional highbrow culture. Moreover, special attention is paid on the ways in which aesthetic, commercial and political valuations are intertwined in cultural coverage and how the relationships among these evaluative principles have changed. The results substantiate and add to the previous knowledge on the post-1960s cultural change, which essentially can be conceptualized as two simultaneous processes of ‘openings’ of culture: the legitimization of popular culture and the popularization of traditional legitimate culture.