This research line focuses on cultural perceptions and the meaning of culture in everyday life. Cultural perceptions include subjective knowledge, representations, associations, stereotypes and preconceptions about different types of cultural activities. Cultural meaning relates to opinions, motives, (aesthetic) expectations, preferences and intrinsic characteristics that are given to certain cultural activities. We map differences in social groups onto differences in cultural perceptions and meanings. Here, we focus both on attenders of cultural activities and non-attenders. Besides, we link the subjective experiences of culture to socio-economic and social network characteristics. We focus on four specific research objectives:


Unraveling non-participation

In this research package, we focus on people who do not participate in cultural or heritage activities. We examine their perceptions and attitudes towards different cultural forms and cultural policy in general.  These perceptions are linked to more general experiences of leisure time. In order to meet this objective, we included a separate module on the barriers for cultural participation in the participation survey 2014. In addition, qualitative research methods are used to provide a detailed account of the cultural experiences of non-participants.


Mapping the cultural experiences of participants

With regard to this objective, we focus on the way culture is experienced by cultural participants. A number of items concerning cultural experiences have been included in the participation survey. Also, a separate audience research has been conducted in 2014 on cultural experiences of the audience of musical concerts in Flanders.


Cultural experiences, perceptions and preferences

This objective concerns the formation of genre classification and the emergence of cultural preferences. Here, we analyze the aesthetic experiences of cultural participants and non-participants. We use an experimental design to disentangle how people give meaning to different cultural forms.


The social dimension of cultural experiences

In order to study the link between cultural experiences and social network characteristics, we included a module on the ego-centered network of respondents in the participation survey. Here we ask about the characteristics and cultural preferences of a number of important people in their social network (kids, colleagues, friends…). We examine how social network characteristics influence cultural perception, but also how these cultural perceptions are constructive for the formation of social networks.