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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 10, 2011

Cultural participation of older adults: investigating the contribution of lowbrow and highbrow activities to social integration and satisfaction with life

  • Vera Toepoel EMAIL logo


This paper analyses the contribution that cultural activities make to social integration and satisfaction with life for older adults, using a nationally representative Dutch sample. Older people participate less frequently in social gatherings and have fewer close contacts than the adult population in general. They also experience increased feelings of loneliness. In contrast, older Dutch adults feel better integrated socially, which suggests that feelings of social integration and loneliness are independent of one another. Older adults show higher participation rates in highbrow activities compared to the adult population as a whole. This study, however, shows that lowbrow or undiscriminating behaviours may increase social integration and satisfaction with life. Consequently, it may be appropriate to stimulate older people to participate frequently in lowbrow activities such as popular music events, cabaret, and cinema. Public policy-makers, therefore, can consider changing focus from highbrow to lowbrow activities in order to respond to the social challenges associated with older age.

Corresponding author: Vera Toepoel, PhD, Department of Leisure Studies, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands

Received: 2010-10-4
Accepted: 2010-12-5
Published Online: 2011-05-10
Published in Print: 2011-05-01

©2011 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York

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