Beginning with the Weavers' era in the U.S., labor and left-of-center politics were never far from those most associated with "folk music." In the main, that is probably as true today as then. When I first got into the coffee house scene, in the late 1950's, many of those I met were fellow college students and professors. There were also some working people, mainly sales and clerical folks. There were a few "blue collar" types as well. There were also several "regulars" who played chess, engaged in discussions about songs, instruments, etc., and whose means of support were indeterminate. We didn't ask, generally. Most, frankly, were white and likely middle income people.
I have not hung out in coffee houses for a very long time. My son, who has done so, being the current working musician in the family, describes the crowds as very similar in makeup, though with much more racial and ethnic diversity.
It appears logical that people with some academic background and intellectual curiosity are most likely to delve into the research, collection, performance and preservation of traditional music. You could make the case that they are best equipped to do so. I don't know if there is anything inherently wrong with that model. Keeping the flame burning is more important than who tends it. The music itself comes from both oral tradition and formal composition.
That said, no one should feel excluded and all people who are truly interested in folk music ought to be encouraged to join in. There should certainly be no intellectual or academic arrogance brought to bear. This is supposed to be the "people's music," someone said.