Missing out on culture—or not: Danes and Finns’ cultural participation, the pandemic, and cultural policy measures

Eva Myrczik, Riie Heikkilä, Nete Nørgaard Kristensen, Semi Purhonen

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Based on nationally representative survey data from a large European project on the societal values of culture, this article measures Danes’ and Finns’ cultural participation in a broad range of activities before COVID-19 disrupted the globe, and what types of cultural participation they have missed the most a year into the pandemic. As a context for the analyses, we provide a brief overview of some of the cultural policy measures in Denmark and Finland initiated to balance out the deficits that the sector experienced and to stimulate citizens’ cultural participation. Based on our empirical data, we identify five clusters of pre-COVID-19 cultural participation — “home-centered”, “active highbrow”, “narrow”, “entertainment”, and “wide” — confirming patterns organized around the dimensions of highbrow/lowbrow participation and participation/non-participation. We also confirm that such cultural participation patterns are socially stratified. These clusters and stratifications are substantiated by the types of cultural participation people have missed most during the pandemic. People with a rich cultural participation pattern before the pandemic, miss various types of cultural participation more often than other groups and rarely report not missing anything during the pandemic. The opposite is the case for those, who had fewer cultural activities before the pandemic—they are more likely not to have missed anything during the pandemic. The restrictions implemented during the pandemic thus seem to have translated Danes’ and Finns’ cultural participation patterns into “missing culture-patterns”, and the socioeconomic inequalities of these cultural participation patterns are primarily reflected in the “missing-culture patterns”, and in some cases only, through the mediating role of existing cultural participation patterns. This points to the “resilience” and potential amplification of such patterns, despite the disruptive circumstances of the global health crisis and the initiated cultural policy measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalNordisk kulturpolitisk tidskrift
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • COVID-19
  • Cultural participation
  • Cultural policy
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Stratification

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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