This paper presents the findings of a recent study which explores the social and cultural characteristics of audiences for performances by black British jazz musicians. It draws on Bourdieu’s theoretical concept of cultural capital, which links social class and educational qualification level to cultural consumption, as well as on Hall’s exploration of ‘new ethnicities’, demonstrating how the two theories are inter-related. The study uses a mixed method approach of observation, questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews, analysed using critical discourse analysis. The demographic data demonstrates the tendency, in line with cultural capital theory, for audiences for black British jazz musicians to be highly educated and from higher socio-economic classes. Particularly notable is that black audience members tended to be from the middle classes, suggesting that attention to the increasingly important social and demographic phenomenon of the black middle class is warranted. Qualitative data demonstrates the positioning of participants regarding the ways in cultural capital inter-relates with the dimension of ethnicity. The importance of cultural heritage to the black participants in particular suggests that Hall’s ‘new ethnicities’ is a particularly useful theory to aid understanding of the complexities of the inter-relationship between race and musical taste.
- jazz; ethnicity; race; cultural capital