European inventory of
societal values of culture

Weingartner - Digital omnivores?

Weingartner, S. (2021). Digital omnivores? How digital media reinforce social inequalities in cultural consumption. New Media & Society, 23(11): 3370–3390.

The article asks whether digital media are capable of attenuating inequalities related to a higher social status and reflected in the consumption of cultural products from diverse levels of sophistication, denoted as cultural omnivorousness. The hypothesis was that since digital media could potentially make cultural products from all levels available to wider audiences, the distinguishing effect of omnivorousness might shrink in the new digital cultural landscape. However, based on a model of individual decision-making, the article suggests several reasons why this assessment might be too optimistic. Empirically, it focuses on omnivorousness and media use in feature film consumption. The author differentiates between four types of electronic media (television, DVD, video on demand, and the internet) and two types of omnivorousness (by volume’ and by composition’). The results of empirical research reveal that digital media reinforce rather than attenuate social inequalities in cultural consumption. Television, in contrast, has the highest levels of omnivorousness and the lowest levels of social structuration. Hence, digital media cannot be said to be a democratising force. Instead, it was shown that television has such a democratising effect.

Sebastian Weingartner “Digital omnivores? How digital media reinforce social inequalities in cultural consumption”