Art Museum Visitation and Symbolic Boundaries
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
Dr. Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert
Lecturer, Department of Applied Arts and Communication, Cyprus University of Technology