Symbolic Boundaries, Identity, and Art Museum Visitation

By Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article provides evidence of how different art museum visitation groups (high, middle, and low attendance levels) draw symbolic boundaries in order to distinguish themselves from others and develop a sense of group membership. In-depth, semi-structured interviews revealed that interviewees in the high visitation level mainly distinguished themselves from other visitors rather than from non-visitors. On the other hand, interviewees in the low visitation level distinguished themselves from non-visitors, while those in the middle level adopted an intermediate position by distinguishing themselves from both non-visitors and visitors. This process of exclusion and inclusion seems to define the interviewees’ self-identity and to influence their visitation decisions. Even though this study focuses on cultural boundaries, evidence of moral and socio-economic boundaries is also apparent.

Keywords: Art Museum Visitation, Symbolic Boundaries, Museum Audiences, Identity, Distinction and Belonging

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.119-130. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.252MB).

Dr. Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert

Lecturer, Department of Applied Arts and Communication, Cyprus University of Technology, Nicosia, Cyprus

Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert is a lecturer at the Cyprus University of Technology. She earned her PhD in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester (UK) and her research interests include museum studies, photography, cultural production and consumption, as well as the sociology of art.

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