Snobbery and the ‘uncultured’ citizen

The results of a study about cultured Greeks, conducted by Metron Analysis for the magazine Highlights, provided certain critics with exactly the ammunition they had been looking for. Indeed, according to the research, 51 percent of Greeks do not know where the National Library is located. Three in 10 have never been to the Acropolis, only 3 percent visit archaeological sites and only 4 percent go to the theater. These revelations may leave us speechless or shaking our heads disapprovingly – or make us «cultured» citizens feel overwhelmingly lonely. But the shock only lasts for about 24 hours. Almost immediately, we are bombarded with statements by «competent» officials, by television reports featuring comments from giggling teenagers in the streets who think the theater is «boring,» and by never-ending debates. But, basically, the issue here is not the results of a statistical study but a prevailing sense of exclusion and stigmatism. The image of the «uncultured» citizen is almost palpable behind the ostensibly revelatory statistics. We have the sense that only a minority is «au fait» with culture and knows the correct answers to the Metron Analysis questionnaire. If we assume that the opinion of the 2,000 people who were polled is representative of the cultural outlook of our nation, then the only conclusion we can draw is that everyone needs to undergo a compulsory education (although it is doubtful that the current system would be adequate to meet such a challenge).

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