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Different Like Me: Why Cultural Omnivores Get Creative Jobs

  • Author(s): Koppman, Sharon
  • et al.

Combining primary survey data collected from a probability sample of U.S. advertising agencies and semi-structured interviews with advertising practitioners, I tested a novel link from class background to creative employment through a cultural process of matching people to jobs. Qualitative data show that shared culture, specifically “omnivorous”—diverse and inclusive—taste and socialization, signals creative potential to employers and motivates people to pursue creative positions. Structural equation modeling reveals that omnivorous socialization and taste mediate the relationship between class background and creative employment: when middle-class parents expose their children to diverse leisure activities, this exposure has a positive indirect effect on creative employment. It may not actually make those children more creative, but such exposure makes them more likely to enter fields in which they will be viewed as creative. The findings highlight a new direction for research on creativity, contribute to the debate on the role of cultural capital in occupational attainment, and extend knowledge on the early origins of career choice.

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