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A matter of cultural distinction: News consumption in the online media landscape

Journal article
Authors Jonas Ohlsson
Johan Lindell
Sofia Arkhede
Published in European Journal of Communication
Volume 32
Issue 2
Pages 116-130
ISSN 0267-3231
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Nordicom (2013-)
Pages 116-130
Language en
Keywords Audience fragmentation, Bourdieu, cultural capital, online news consumption, Sweden
Subject categories Media Studies, Sociology, Media and Communications


The world of online news is a world where news consumers must make choices among a plethora of different news sources. Previous research points towards a fragmentation of news consumption across the citizenry. However, not enough attention has been paid to class, in particular cultural capital, and how it shapes how groups in society develop preferences for different categories of online news. Drawing upon a representative national survey in Sweden (N = 11,108), a country historically known for its egalitarian news consumption, we show that cultural capital engenders patterns of taste and distaste for different online national news providers. This is manifested in that those rich in cultural capital are more inclined to consume ‘quality’ news and to neglect ‘popular’ news. A relative lack of cultural capital is associated with a somewhat reverse pattern. News consumption in the online media landscape is a matter of cultural distinction.

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