Art Museum Visitation and Symbolic Boundaries

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This presentation is based on qualitative research that took place in Cyprus as part of my PhD dissertation. The research, which includes in-depth, semi-structured interviews with museum visitors and non-visitors, provides evidence of how different art museum visitation groups (high, middle, and low level) draw symbolic boundaries in order to distinguish themselves from others and develop a sense of group membership. Symbolic boundaries can be defined as a “conceptual distinction that we make to categorize objects, people, practices, and even time and space” and more particularly as the “subjective boundaries that we draw between ourselves and others” (Lamont, 1992, p.9). We will see how this process defines the interviewees’ self-identity and influences their visitation decisions. Even though this study focuses on cultural boundaries, evidence of moral and socio-economic boundaries is also apparent. We will also examine the use of the word “Koultouriaris”, which is a Greek word meaning “highbrow” or “pseudo-intellectual”. Interestingly, the word can have positive or negative connotations depending on who is using it.

Lamont, M. (1992). Money, Morals and Manners. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press.

Keywords: Art Museum Audiences, Symbolic Boundaries, Perception, Identity, Distinction and Belonging
Stream: Other
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , Symbolic Boundaries, Identity, and Art Museum Visitation

Dr. Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert

Lecturer, Department of Applied Arts and Communication, Cyprus University of Technology
Nicosia, Cyprus

Ref: A09P0494