This learning activity was written by Jasmine Harris-LaMothe, a graduate student in the University of Minnesota Sociology department, to accompany “Roll Over Beethoven, There’s A New Way to Be Cool” by Richard A. Peterson in Contexts Summer 2001.
For generations, preference for “high” culture included an interest in cultural mediums not readily available to the masses and signified a marked difference between the elites and everyone else. Today, “elite” status requires a familiarity with more – not just higher – forms of culture. This has significantly changed the way fine arts are depicted in the media and thus understood by the public.
Fill out the questionnaire below on your demographic information and your taste in fine arts. After you’ve completed the questions, turn to the neighbor and discuss your answers.
1. Male or Female
3. Where is your hometown?
Answer never, rarely, sometimes, or often to the questions below:
4. How often do you read a book for pleasure? ___________
5. How often do you go to the movies?__________
6. How often do you read a newspaper?___________
7. How often do you watch the news on television?____________
8. How often do you watch other types of live (non-DVRed) television?_____________
9. When was the last time you visited an art museum?____________
10. When was the last time you visited the theater?_____________
Provide your top three answers to the questions below:
11. Who are your favorite musical artists?
12. What are your favorite musical genres?
13. What are your favorite plays?
14. What are your favorite ballets?
15. What are your favorite operas?
- Are you and/or your partner cultural “omnivores” or “univores?”
- Are your tastes reflective of your demographic information?
- Do you think your answers are reflective of changes in medium preferences among the greater population?
What implications do the aforementioned changes in medium likes/dislikes have for the future of mass media as a whole?