Two of the frequent reasons cited for the level of unprecedented violence and criminality seen last month in many English cities were 1. it's a cultural thing and 2. there is an obsession with instant gratification and celebrity in society.
Sociologists with deeper understanding of the issues than my A level provides will no doubt come up with a substantial list of other reasons looking at deprivation, educational achievement, housing amongst many others. As part of their analysis, in order to get a broad sense of what gets the juices flowing for many in this country, I would suggest looking no further than the annual magazine circulation figures.
It is a pretty depressing list (see the full breakdown here). Three of the top four magazines are TV listing publications (1. TV Choice; 2. What's On TV; 3. Radio Times) with the fourth being Take a Break which is based on stories of real life soap operas.
Broaden our look out to the top 10 and four of the next five (New!; Glamour; OK! Magazine; Closer) are celebrity gossip magazines with nine of the top twenty being celebrity mags.
Maybe I'm being snooty and I'd certainly acknowledge that a little escapism does no harm to anyone. However, these sales figures seem to demonstrate the major pastime for millions is watching TV and following the goings on of so called celebrities. This doesn't on the face of it look like a society enriched with cultural diversity or one which rewards hard work and genuine achievement.