Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


5 December 2018

Professor Andrew Miles - Everyday participation and the shifting boundaries of culture, class and leisure

Presented By CRCC Seminar Series

About this event


In this presentation I draw together themes from two quite different large-scale research projects on culture and class to reflect on the stakes attached to cultural participation in contemporary Britain. Having largely disappeared from view in the 1980s and 90s, social class is once again a fixture of political and academic discourse. Findings from the Great British Class Survey project suggest that, although the system by which status and power was conferred through attachment to the traditional canon of highbrow arts is in decline, cultural preferences continue to create divisions along class lines.  This is bound up with the consolidation of a new metropolitan wealth elite and the emergence of a hostile politics of classification. However, as I go on to argue, it is to the everyday realm, on the boundaries of the creative city, that we must turn our attention in order to understand how realignments of class and culture are playing out as struggles in time and space with significant political ramifications.   


For the first half of my career, from the mid 1980s onwards, I worked as a social historian at the Universities of Keele, Warwick, Cardiff and the Birmingham (1992-2002). I then took a break from academic life, becoming a consultant in the cultural sector, where, amongst other things, I applied my training a social scientist to researching and evaluating arts interventions in criminal justice settings. I joined CRESC (the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-cultural Change) part-time in 2004 working on various cultural sector and research methods related projects with Mike Savage, Niamh Moore and others, including an ESRC Placement Fellowship at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 2009. I become convenor of the CRESC’s core research theme on ‘Trajectories of Participation and Inequality’ in 2011, and a Reader in Sociology in 2012. I am currently involved in a number of large-scale research projects, including the AHRC and Creative Scotland funded Understanding Everyday Participation – Articulating Cultural Values on which I am the PI, the EPSRC Step-Change in travel and transport behaviour project (Co-I), and the Great British Class Survey project.