ARTICLE: The upper class does not exclusively read high-brow news

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Individuals with more cultural capital are not necessarily “snobbish” but rather “omnipotent” in their news consumption, write Jonas Ohlsson and Sofia Arkhede, both of University of Gothenburg, with Johan Lindell, of Karlstad University (names not in original order). The authors analysed the survey results from a 2014 national survey on Swedes’ opinions, demographics and lifestyles. Ohlsson, Lindell and Arkhede were particularly interested in how the Swedes’ social class affected what online news they read.

Higher social background and formal education both correlate with aversion to “popular” news (defined by the authors as the papers Expressen and Aftonbladet). On the other hand, other indicators of high social class (such as going to concerts and reading books) correlated positively with the consumption of both popular and “quality” news (the latter consisting of Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter).

Indicators of lower social class – for example, growing in a blue-collar home, and not having a university degree – correlate clearly with a preference towards popular news over quality news. Consumption of popular news also seems to be associated with living in small or medium sized towns, while quality news are more commonly read in the metropolitan area, even when all other factors are accounted for.

The article “A matter of cultural distinction” was published by the European Journal of Communication. It is available online (abstract public).

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