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How Cultural Capital Emerged in Gilded Age America: Musical Purification and Cross-Class Inclusion at the New York Philharmonic

Title
How Cultural Capital Emerged in Gilded Age America: Musical Purification and Cross-Class Inclusion at the New York Philharmonic
Speaker(s)
Speaker: Professor Shamus Khan # Columbia University; Hosted by: Sociology # University of Edinburgh
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
14th Mar 2018 11:00 - 14th Mar 2018 12:00
Location
1st Floor Practice Suite (CMB 1.12)
URL
http://www.sociology.ed.ac.uk/events2/seminar_series/2017_2018/how_cultural_capital_emerged_in_gilded_age_america_musical_purification_and_cross-class_inclusion_at_the_new_york_philharmonic

This paper provides a new account of the emergence of cultural capital in America, and about the relationship between cultural and elites. This argument is based upon a new database of subscribed to the New York Philharmonic between 1880 and 1910 – the key period of institutionalization of high culture in the United States. In analyzing these data we seek to understand how culture became a resource for elite status in that era. We find support for the classic account of purification and exclusiveness of high culture, showing how over the long Gilded Age the social elite of New York attended the Philharmonic both increasingly and in more socially patterned ways. Yet we also find that the orchestra opened up to a new group of subscribers who did not share the social practices, occupational background, or residential choices of more elite patrons. These new members hailed from the professional, managerial and intellectual middle class that was then forming in U.S. cities. The rise of that educated class paved a specific way to the emergence of cultural capital, as it made possible to share elite culture beyond the ranks of the elite alone. We further show that the inclusion of these new members was segregated, by which we mean that they did not mingle with elites inside the concert hall. Thus, greater distinctiveness and greater inclusiveness happened together at the Philharmonic, enabling elite culture to remain distinctive while it also acquired broader social currency. 

Angus Bancroft