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If You’re Interested in Art, You’re More Likely to Be Socially Responsible


If you dance, act, sing, draw or simply watch others do it, you’re probably altruistic.

People have always said that art can develop people’s sensibilities. And it seems that a lot of evidence support this claim to a great degree. The University of Illinois in Chicago tested the span of art’s influence on our sense of social responsibility. During their research, specialists discovered a link between artistic and social participation. The study shows that a greater interest in art results in a greater social participation.

Involvement in art, especially as an audience, makes people more tolerant, altruistic and interested in civic behavior. The study’s head researcher LeRoux, says people of the so-called “Generation X” tend to show a greater sense of solidarity than others.

The General Social Survey, conducted since 1972 by the National Data Program for the Sciences (NORC) interviewed 2,765 adults selected at random in order to compare survey answers with altruistic actions: donating blood or money, giving directions or doing favors for neighbors.

The actions were in line with the civic behavior norms sought by the researchers. Previous studies had already published norms for volunteering and participating in community organizations. Researchers measured people’s participation in neighborhood associations, churches, religious organizations, political parties, unions and organizations.

They measured social tolerance using two variables: tolerance of non-normative gender orientation and racial tolerance. The first variable was measured by asking participants whether or not they were okay with hiring homosexual teachers in public schools and if they were opposed to having books that addressed homosexuality in their public libraries.

The second variable measured people’s racial tolerance based on a series of questions concerning various ethnic groups: African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans. According to LeRoux, 80% of those surveyed were Caucasian.

They then measured altruistic behaviors in accordance to whether interviewees would let a stranger cut in line in front of them, share valuable private property, take care of their neighbor’s pets or plants or pick up their mail for them.

For LeRoux, if politicians are concerned with the lack of social participation in their communities, then art should not be overlooked as a means to encourage an active citizenship.

The information that was used in the study was conducted in 2002, and was carried out in accordance the National Data Program’s last update. Nevertheless, LeRoux plans to conduct another study once the data base is renewed.

The link between art and a sense of social responsibility is very interesting. Sharing their relationship is a way of supporting art and trying to break any prejudices associated with it. Harnessing the social capital that encourages people’s sensitization can transform the limitations of cultural minorities into an incentive for creators and the public in general.  The idea is to generate a greater offer and demand that can be translated into authentic solidarity.

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