Exploring young people’s understanding of culture: a study from Northern Ireland

Victoria Durrer, Grace Kelly, Martina McKnight, Dirk Schubotz

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This article highlights the need for greater understanding of the role that historical and socio-cultural and political context may play in shaping perceptions of culture and cultural value (Kasynska, 2015). Findings draw on the 2016 Young Life and Times (YLT) survey, an annual attitudinal survey of 16-year olds in Northern Ireland, and four follow-up focus group discussions. The results complement existing research on cultural participation, which relates forms of engagement with factors, such as, age, location of residence, gender, and income (Bennett et al., 2009; Manchester & Pett, 2015; van Wel, et al., 2006). However, reflecting, to some degree, the specificities of the study’s location in Northern Ireland, we also found that cultural participation and understandings of what counts as culture have strong connections to history, place, religion, tradition and family. Furthermore, while our research participants placed a high level of personal importance on the informal activities in which they engage on a daily basis, it was those activities associated with tradition and family, which they perceived as having higher cultural importance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-18
JournalCultural Trends
Issue number1
Early online date22 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • young people
  • cultural participation
  • cultural value
  • Northern Ireland


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