Why do people care about class?

(254 Posts)

I really don't understand. Why does it matter? I can't think of a single time in my life when I have considered class to be an issue and tbh I have no idea what class I am.

AIBU or just ignorant?

That's interesting because I can tick off a lot of those but speak 'well' and my parents consider themselves middle-class.

This is why I don't understand class! Different people think there are different flags, and while I can see that money and connections can make life easier I can't say that I've ever struggled because of my background.

chandellina Fri 01-Feb-13 18:58:33

I think of it solely as a measure of income and education. Lower class to me means not working or unskilled work with no social mobility across generations and minimal education (no judgement implied), middle class means you or your parents went to university and you make a decent living, and upper class means very rich, including those from legacy wealth.

I don't associate any particular behaviour with it, though in this country there is an idealisation of working class, usually with middle class people pretending that is what they are. In the USA, people are proud to be middle class or aspire to it.

Posh means from money and upholding old values, or wishing you were and pretending.

I have 2 degrees and am unemployed, where would I fit in? grin

Uppatreecuppatea Fri 01-Feb-13 19:18:12

England is one of the only countries that defines class and social status by the newspapers they read. Have you heard of the ABC1C2DEF system? Look it up - you would be surprised.

It's not about money. It's about background and education. You can live in a council house and win the lottery - but you won't be upper middle class. Equally, you can be an upper class pauper.

I am very aware of class in England and I don't think that's a good thing. I find the superiority that is ingrained in the class-system to be pretty destructive and either self-regarding or self-defeating. Accents are also a flashpoint for people who try to define you and that's unfortunate.

The media perpetuates this - think of the Essex facelift and you'll know what I mean.

I prefer the North American way where everyone is (more than here) equal and makes their own path without stigmas to trip them up on the journey.

WellTravelledPrawn Fri 01-Feb-13 19:27:46

My mother in law cares a lot about about class and I've lost count of the number of things she considers common; these include onions, most British public schools, Peugeots and gloves on children (mittens are permitted and indeed encouraged).

She inherited the term 'bas-peuple' to refer to anyone considered lower down the social scale than her. I know this as it was one of her first observations about me to her son, when we first met.

She is mad as a box of frogs and an endless source of entertainment!

Uppatreecuppatea Fri 01-Feb-13 19:30:53

My neighbour is a posh lady parishioner and she says things like: "My dear, I'll just have a last tincture before we retire to bed".

Posh people intimidate me a bit. I think that's why it's such an emotive topic.

Onions?! shock

I am very aware of class in England and I don't think that's a good thing. I find the superiority that is ingrained in the class-system to be pretty destructive and either self-regarding or self-defeating. But I still don't think I've ever encountered the class system, at least not as you describe it. I'll look up the newspaper thing, thanks.

WellTravelledPrawn Fri 01-Feb-13 19:41:29

Yes onions. Her grandmother was deeply suspicious of tomatoes and wouldn't have them in the house.

I think that, for some people, there is still a "superiority ingrained in the English class system", but it's more self-destructive than destructive. Only anecdotal, but those people I know who seem to have a sense of entitlement merely by virtue of the fact that they are 'posh' have struggled to cope with the fact that others don't necessarily adhere to that view and consequently haven't always done so well in life.

lazybastard Fri 01-Feb-13 19:44:31

People care about anything that makes them feel superior to others.

LouMae Fri 01-Feb-13 19:48:23

Really? I've been very aware since I was small I am working class. Class matters. It is very easy to spot the middle class mums in the playground and even more when they speak. Accent is usually a pretty good indicator of class.

JuliaScurr Fri 01-Feb-13 19:49:38

why do people care?

I care because the country is currently run by old Etonians/millionaires (check how many in the Cabinet) who are prepared to charge bereaved, ill parents £650 a yr from their benefits to stay in the house where they have kept their dead child's bedroom unchanged. Govt regulations now say it is an unnecessary spare room. Heartless.

Why do you say you're working class Lou?

PariahHairy Fri 01-Feb-13 19:54:49

I don't really care about it, but even if you don't you are constantly judged by people who do.

Didn't really think about it until I moved to a very middle class area.

cory Fri 01-Feb-13 19:55:46

Uppatreecuppatea Fri 01-Feb-13 19:18:12
"England is one of the only countries that defines class and social status by the newspapers they read.

Not sure about that. Even in Sweden there is a definite difference between the people who read Svenska Dagbladet and the people who read Aftonbladet. Papers will be written in different styles and aimed at different readers; the more educated will tend to choose the more difficult paper.

They won't define it in terms of class- like the Americans according to KatyTheCleaningLady's post, they are in deep denial, but they can't help noticing differences. My mother married across (unmentionable) class boundaries. So instead of explaining my dad's and his family's different customs, fashions of speech, attitude in terms of class, she thinks of them as being odd or silly or just plain wrong (But darling, nobody thinks like this/talks like this except your family).

I often think I have it easier because I married a foreigner, so I know why he is different and can describe it in non-judgmental words.

I still don't know what determines which class you are, people seem to have different opinions on that.

And I'm sure I get judged for a lot of things tbh! grin

countrykitten Fri 01-Feb-13 19:56:59

Hmmm - I would suggest that anyone who calls anything at all 'common' is actually a bit of a Hyacinth Bouquet type! It is one of those phrases that really identifies people - like it or not.

countrykitten Fri 01-Feb-13 19:57:19

Words I meant, not phrases!

BettyFriedansLoveChild Fri 01-Feb-13 20:00:48

Class is important because to a great extent, it still tends to determine the way people's lives will pan out. I'm not saying that is a good thing, or that a class system is something that we should aim to perpetuate, but to ignore that fact that it still exists seems rather naive, and in fact in some way may actually perpetuate a class system. (i.e. by denying that it exists we refuse to deal with the problem of social inequality).

Callycat Fri 01-Feb-13 20:03:55

I think Sparkly has a point. I'm working with a lot of privately educated people, and compared to state-school me they have an inner confidence and understanding that they deserve a good home, a good job, great success. All lovely people, mind. But I don't see that expectation of success and happiness in me, or my working class friends. I think it becomes then a self-fulfilling prophecy.

GothAnneGeddes Fri 01-Feb-13 20:04:42

Class matters because of the impact it has on cultural capital. <taps nose>.


mercibucket Fri 01-Feb-13 20:06:40

I care a lot about class

I think it is disgusting that in our country, your life chances, right down to how long you will live for, are determined by your social class

it is disgusting that your educational opportunities and later your access to well paid jobs, are affected to a great degree by your social class

It is not like this in every country. I find it deeply offensive that our country operates this way, and that great advances in the post war period are now being reversed.

Betty I don't think I'm ignoring it, I just can't think of an occasion when I've encountered it.

LaFataTurchina Fri 01-Feb-13 20:13:19

I think it's all to do with the human need to sort ourselves in to tribes to feel safer...whether it's by class, or religion, or political orientation.

I think all countries probably have some sort of class system, but Britain just happens to have one of the more pronounced ones.

The thing I find upsetting about the British class system is that it can lead to poverty of aspiration for some -- My large extended family in Italy range from quite poor to quite rich but even amongst the poorer cousins of my generation there was still always the expectation that they could do something with their lives...I think some people in England have largely given up sad because there are just too many obstacles in their way.

mercibucket Fri 01-Feb-13 20:15:14

Actually, not encountering people of different classes is another bad sign imo. Our society is becoming more splintered again, so we only mix with those similar to ourselves, and demonise 'the others'. I am guilty of it no doubt too, as I'm sure many upper class people are perfectly nice.

I recommedn 'chavs: the demonisation of the working class' for a bit of light reading on the subject

Uppatreecuppatea Fri 01-Feb-13 20:20:08

I agree that the class system here makes progress difficult for so many people.

It stinks.

The whole education system is built to perpetuate this. It dates back (in recent years) to the comprehensive vs grammar schools which basically foretold your future.

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