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The reason why middle-class people more likely to sing, play music, act or paint has been revealed in a new Oxford University study – and wealth or social status do not appear to have much to do with it.

 Photo credit: Shutterstock

The research involving 78,000 people found that neither wealth nor social status were strongly linked to people taking part in arts activities as amateurs or professionals.  Instead, it was the level of education that lay behind arts participation. It shows that having a higher income did not make arts participation more likely – those earning over £30,000 a year were less likely to take part than those earning less.

 The study by Dr Aaron Reeves, published in the journal Sociology, showed that of the 78,011 surveyed, 18% had taken part in painting or photography, 9% in dance, 10% in music, 2% in drama or opera; 6% had written poetry, plays or fiction. Only 22% had not engaged in any artistic activities.

Social status mattered little:  Those in higher professional jobs were less likely to take part in the arts than those in lower professional jobs, and only slightly more likely to take part than those in lower supervisory roles and semi-routine roles.

After accounting for the influence of family class background by statistical analysis, Dr Reeves found that those with a degree were around four times more likely to take part in painting and photography than those with no educational qualification, five times more likely to be involved in dance and in crafts, and four times more likely to play a musical instrument.

Read more on the University website (opens new window)