I think it’s kind of overstating the American Management Association’s article saying that the cultural intelligence quotient is the most sought-after trait in potential employees to suggest that being an art lover makes you more likely to get a job (any preaching of art as a panacea is likely to end in disappointment). Understanding culture is a matter of familiarity with custom as well as of specific artistic forms and products: having a sense of what to pay a moto driver for a lift into central Phnom Penh or having a sense of under what circumstances it’s okay to talk about the One Child policy while you’re in Beijing is as important an indicator of cultural intelligence and as useful to getting by as knowing about Cambodian Shadow Puppets or how Chinese porcelain artists used washes in different periods.
Similarly, this post by Gabriel Rossman is a good warning on the trickiness of figuring out how to capture cultural capital. We might admire opera-lovers in theory, but do we like them in practice? Is it better to be Diane Chambers or Carla Tortelli if you’re in a setting where knowledge of the Red Sox is more valuable than familiarity with Jung? One of the places cultural capital seems valuable is when it’s surprising, when two people doing a deal discover that, contrary to their expectations of each other, both love the same author, or a client finds out that the person who is responsible for entertaining them can talk knowledgeably about their favorite sports team. It’s the spontaneity of that mutual recognition that’s useful, and that’s hard to engineer or to hire strategically for.