Projects in progress
'Coro BAC' project
an innovative action in the field of public and cultural welfare based on the performing arts. The association is sponsored by the University of Turin's Humanities Department under the 2019 University of Turin's financial grant for Public Engagement projects.
Social Community Theatre Centre (within the Barolo Arti per la Comunità, BAC project) will set up a theatre choir open to 30 girls and women from the university (students, researchers, professors, and members of the technical and administrative staff) and from the Distretto Opera Barolo (residents, operators and users)..
'Coro BAC' project (BAC Choir project)
The "BAC Choir" will explore women’s creativity through singing and theatre, providing an opportunity to meet with women of different cultures and languages, promoting their wellbeing and vocal talents.
Può la partecipazione ad attività culturali degli stranieri migliorare la loro integrazione economica?
(“Can the economic integration of migrants be improved by their participation in cultural activities?”)
Alessandra Venturini, Andrea Ricci, Cristina Mosso, Università degli Studi di Torino
The scientific literature shows a strong interest in the participation of migrants in cultural activities which stimulate and enhance innovative practices, increasingly so in practices involving “passive” participation, such as theatre, concerts and art performances.
This growing interest however has not been paralleled or matched by an equally remarkable propensity to explore how such cultural practices relate to and impact on the socio-economic integration of individuals. Closer attention to this mutual impact reveals that participation in cultural practices brings forth three areas of psychological and physical wellbeing, namely self-esteem, self-effectiveness and relational skills. These dimensions appear to carry a certain appeal in terms of employability, more specifically in terms of the soft skills which are a pre-requisite for access to, and permanence in, the destination society’s workplace. Though undeniably attractive, however, this area of inquiry suffers from a certain methodological and structural weakness: the lack of control groups and of detailed interviews, besides limited and non-homogeneous sampling.
This study aims to evaluate and show, through the use of a vast corpus of qualitative and quantitative tools available in the literature, the correlations between the socio-economic integration of foreigners and the three dimensions, namely self-esteem, self-effectiveness and relational skills, identified above.
A recent feature of the academic community’s growing interest in foreigners participating in their destination country’s cultural life has come to include, and to emphasize even, empirical evidence describing the effects of such involvement on the participants’ health and wellbeing, both social and psychological. Experts everywhere have been collecting an ample corpus of studies on this topic.
At the same time, a large number of projects are underway for the integration of migrants, both in urban and rural contests, in their host societies. Such initiatives are meant to enhance the cultural involvement of foreigners and the participation of their communities in integrative cultural practices, so as to configure a common ground where immigrants and native citizens can interact and thus find elements of contact and proximity in terms of social and cultural behaviour. Such projects therefore can be said to have a threefold objective: to provide foreigners with the means for a faster and more complete integration, to allow the hosting communities to dispel prejudice by increasing opportunities for direct social contact and to lay the foundations for a more cohesive and more stable social structure.
This study is meant to explore, in the light of the literature illustrated above, the practice of multicultural singing choirs and its effects on participants, with particular attention to the abilities acquired through direct interaction with native nationals which can in turn be conducive to the acquisition of the softs skills that can be usefully applied on the workplace.
Such complex research, indeed requiring an interdisciplinary approach, cannot however concentrate on a given group and establish a set of precise tools, though a variety of questionnaires and indicators have been developed over time, and are offered in the literature, to investigate this multifaceted research ground, notably the complex dimensions of individual psychological and physical wellbeing. Thus the present research involves mainly three main typologies of instruments, both qualitative and quantitative, so as to focus on the three macro-areas indicated above, viz. self-esteem, self-efficiency and relational skills.
The first set of instruments, mainly quantitative, consists of psychophysiological indicators investigating the physiological and neurological stimulations and response in the course of active and passive participation in cultural activities, from changes in the heartbeat or pulmonary capacity to the increase or decrease of hormone levels in the saliva. Such measurements can be considered proxy of an improvement of personal wellbeing or of a positive response to art performance in the brain.
The second group can be considered subjective and consists of a composite set of tools including questionnaires addressing the personal-psychological condition, scales for interpreting the states experienced during or after participation in cultural activities.
The third group, defined psycho-social indicators, consists of those indexes which concur to the evaluation of the individual capacity to be or become members of a society in a proactive manner.
As the academic literature does not pay particular attention to establishing predictive indicators for the effective benefits of participation in cultural activities, notably multicultural choirs, in terms of developing useful skills to access the world of employment, the present study makes recourse to business managers and to one choir director for submitting a special questionnaire to members of a choir in order to investigate the benefits associated with choir singing, the ultimate purpose being to study the effects on employability of the threefold set of dimensions guiding the research.
Firstly, experiences of passive participation in cultural activities, amply documented in the literature, are explored. Next, active participation is explored, comparing results across the various groups in terms of their features and of the measured effects of participation both during and after participation. Finally, by focussing on studies of foreigner groups in multicultural choirs and on scientific evidence provided by such studies, an attempt is made to connect the dimensions of self-esteem, self-effectiveness and relational capacity in a context of socio-economic integration into the hosting society.
The increasing academic attention over the years illustrated above and its originality of perspectives has been applied to an increasingly diverse range of subjects, from children and youth to the elderly and to individuals with neurodegenerative disease, besides the socially marginalised and the foreigners. Likewise, a wider and wider range of activities has been explored to study its beneficial effects on individuals, from dance, individual and group singing, attendance to concerts and museum visits to playing various musical instruments.
The literature is teeming with useful results and data collections, providing a vast state-of-the-art scenario (Clift et al. 2008, 2010, Daykin et al. 2018, Fancourt e Finn 2019, Gridley et al. 2011, Kang et al. 2017, Swaminathan e Schellenberg 2015, Tarr, Launay e Dunbar 2014). There is a clear hybridization of research domains – the neurosciences and psychology, physiology, sociology – with remarkable interconnections of instruments and competences, of methods of analysis and methods of data collection capable of representing the individual psychological changes intervening in the individual perception of wellbeing upon participation in a performing art. It is indeed hard to define such a richly diversified repertoire of tools, both those created and those adjusted for the purpose, though one paradigm to be definitely foregrounded within the experiments accomplished or underway is the combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches.
"Il ruolo dei consumi e delle pratiche culturali degli immigrati nei processi di integrazione: indagine conoscitiva su Torino per la sperimentazione di politiche culturali innovative" - research project funded by CRT Foundation
The City of Turin is increasingly characterized by the presence of foreign residents (today, 10% of its population). While the economic and social conditions of this segment of the population have been extensively investigated, relatively little is known about cultural consumption, and the attitudes and behaviours involved.
In the past, the city has been a pivotal context for pioneering projects in Italy on foreigners' cultural consumption, e.g. the Cultural Observatory of Piedmont in 2002 or the project entitled Patrimonio per tutti (2005-2008). However, the evidence provided by these previous investigations is now obviously dated.
Moreover, compared to the early 2000s, the institutions and decision-makers in the cultural field have been gaining new awareness of the need for audience development strategies addressing foreigners and immigrants.
Hence, this project is meant to increase and update knowledge of foreigners from the perspective of cultural consumption. The study develops a revised informative base for cultural institutions and public decision-makers, suggesting integration policies based on the promotion of cultural practices.
Exploring the relationship between subjective well-being and diversity and intensity in cultural consumption
This paper proposes a novel approach to explore the relationship between cultural participation and subjective well-being. While most empirical research has considered such a connection using cultural activities individually or in additive terms, we adopt cultural consumption profiles that simultaneously combine variety and intensity of engagement in different cultural activities. Using data from the 2018 Italian Multipurpose survey on households “Aspects of daily life”, we first derive major profiles of cultural consumers through Latent Class Analysis and investigate how heterogeneity in cultural profiles which combine intensity and diversity is associated with overall life satisfaction and relevant domains (health, leisure and friendship relations). The results of our empirical analysis indicate a positive relationship between cultural participation and overall life satisfaction, which generally increases according to the diversity and intensity of practices expressed in the profiles of cultural consumers. Still, diversity in consumption becomes more relevant in specific domains of life satisfaction. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the role of cultural consumption habits in individual well-being and have implications for the variety of culture-led welfare policies.
Over the last decades, there has been a growing awareness that economic welfare only partially contributes to individual well-being’s multidimensional nature. Subjective well-being and other related concepts, such as life satisfaction or happiness, have thus become the focus of an expanding range of research within the social sciences, with studies identifying beyond economic and material conditions other more intangible and less observable drivers (Felce and Perry, 1995; Diener et al., 1999; Frey, 2010).
An extensive body of research from different disciplines has documented how both active and passive engagement in arts and cultural activities can enhance individual well-being through several dimensions, including improved cognitive skills, mental health, psychological well-being, sense of meaning in life, and pro-social attitudes (McCarthy et al., 2001; Fancourt and Finn, 2020).
From an empirical viewpoint, many studies have relied on small-scale and highly situated evidence. However, more recent quantitative works, drawing on representative samples of population data, have investigated the effects on the subjective well-being of different types of engagement in arts and cultural activities (Blessi et al., 2014; Brown et al., 2015; Grossi et al., 2012; Hand, 2018; Lee and Heo, 2020; Michalos and Kahlke, 2010; Wheatley and Bickerton, 2017, 2019; Ateca-Amestoy et al., 2021).
In general, the findings indicate a positive relationship or impact. However, the empirical approaches adopted mainly consider the effect of a single cultural activity or, at most, they do consider more than one activity but merely in additive terms. Although some of these studies have also used simple metrics on the variety of arts and cultural practices, the evidence is limited insofar as the interactions between the consumption of cultural goods are not fully explored in terms of their effects on individual well-being. Arguably, subjective well-being is more likely to be linked to the personal leisure experience observed as a lifestyle pattern, ultimately determined through the heterogeneity in consumption choices over a set of different cultural activities (Ateca-Amestoy et al., 2008). What is missing is a comprehensive account of how subjective well-being is related to cultural consumption emerging from the combination of variety and intensity of engagement in different cultural activities simultaneously.
To fill this gap, we borrow from the sociological literature (Katz-Gerro, 2004) the notion of cultural consumption “profiles” used to identify in a population prevailing patterns that stem from consumption habits of different cultural products and services rather than single cultural activities. Since the seminal work of Bourdieu (1984), sociological research has distinguished between highbrow and lowbrow cultural goods, referring to the stratification of social groups, which reflected in preferences in cultural consumption. Questioning Bourdieu’s argument, Peterson (1992) introduced the notion of cultural omnivores and univores. The former are individuals who experience and appreciate various cultural products or genres within a cultural field (highbrow, middlebrow, and lowbrow), while the latter experience only one, or at least a much narrower group of products. The omnivore/univore thesis has been subsequently reconsidered to account for expanding cultural consumer profiles. For example, Sullivan and Katz-Gerro (2007) identify the “voracious” omnivore, where the variety and participation frequency of cultural leisure activities are considered.
From an empirical viewpoint, research on the cultural omnivore/univore thesis has opened up the analysis of the segmentation of cultural consumers in different countries using population data on participation and frequency of engagement in cultural and leisure activities (Sintas and Alvarez, 2002; Vander Stichele and Laermans, 2006; Alderson et al., 2007; Chan and Goldthorpe, 2007; Katz-Gerro et al., 2009; Warde and Gayo-Cal, 2009; Katz-Gerro and Jæger, 2013). In this case, latent class analysis has been the most widely adopted approach to classify cultural consumption patterns.
From this perspective, his study aims to assess how distinct cultural consumption patterns are associated with life satisfaction and specific domains, which are not hierarchically organised but include fields such as health, leisure and friendship relations. While overall life satisfaction tends to be positively related to domain satisfaction (Rojas, 2006; Easterlin and Sawangfa, 2009), a more systematic analysis of domain satisfaction could provide a better understanding of the channels through which cultural consumption is related to subjective well-being.
Using data from the 2018 Italian Multipurpose survey on households’ “Aspects of daily life”, which presents consumption information for eight different cultural activities, we first derive six profiles of cultural consumers through Latent Class Analysis based on the diversity and frequency of attendance to various cultural activities. The profiles range from Culturally Inactive individuals to subjects characterised by different combinations of diversity and attendance intensity (Lowbrow Univore, Lowbrow Active, Heritage Lover, Cultural Omnivore, Voracious). After controlling for individual socio-demographic characteristics - which proxy the monetary and time constraints and the human capital, which can favour easy access to consumption - and controlling for local supply of cultural goods -which represent the local attitude to cultural activities and a constraint to its consumption – the study investigates how heterogeneity in cultural profiles is associated with overall life satisfaction and relevant domains. The results of this empirical analysis confirm a positive relationship between cultural participation and overall life satisfaction, which generally increases according to the diversity and intensity of practices expressed in the profiles of cultural consumers.
Still, a more complex picture arises when considering domain satisfaction across cultural consumption patterns. In particular, diversity of consumption, even just in lowbrow cultural activities, tends to lead to higher levels of satisfaction in life subdomains, suggesting a greater relevance of the breadth of the leisure experience relative to the intensity of engagement.
Different regional profiles of culture consumption and well-being suggest compensating cultural interventions that should favour more diversity than intensity while addressing specific regional cultural needs.