Note: Please bear in mind that whilst this topic does canvass opinions, it is not a fight club. You may disagree with other posters but we do ask you please to stick to our Talk Guidelines and to be civil. We don't allow personal attacks or troll-hunting. Do please report any. Thanks, MNHQ.

to think this class system only exists on MN?

(309 Posts)
GildedWingsOfGrace Fri 13-Sep-13 20:00:38

All the time I hear "middle class" bashing on here.

Or "working class" guilt. Only on MN.

I wouldn't have a clue what class I am or what class my friends are, or the people I work with are.

It doesn't even occur to me, and I never hear it mentioned in day to day life confused

stitchy Sat 14-Sep-13 01:25:26

The class system is alive and kicking, I just don't know into which class I fall as neither the working class or the middle class would have me as a member. On the one hand my brother is a banker, sister is a curator, mates are solicitors etc and yet I'm a non-university educated, daughter of a salt-of-the-earth (more patronising middle class term for chav) proper northern, 'you can't go to heaven if you vote tory' dad. It's class limbo.

Lazysuzanne Sat 14-Sep-13 01:28:16

weren't there some new categories proposed just recently?
It was discussed in the news and what have you, I filled in some online survey but I cant remember what it said I amconfused

HeadsDownThumbsUp Sat 14-Sep-13 01:54:56

That was just some new research/BBC survey.

There are various ways of defining/ascribing class, and not all of them overlap neatly. Most are about forming collective perceptions of each other though.

I said it already upthread, but although people's consumer choices are the most visible signs of their social class, I don't think they are really the most important aspect of class. Getting hung up about lawyers popping into Iceland for frozen pies and chips for their tea and checkout assistants buying artisinal cheese and biodynamic wine isn't very productive.

I would disagree with this though:

"I think you need to feel comfortable wherever you fit in within that class structure, aspiring to be something you are not is never going to feel great I wouldn't have thought."

I don't think that discussing class should ever be a way of encouraging people to stay 'in their place'. Personally, I think it's good to have an awareness of how class and power function in society, and where you stand in respect to that power, in order to see exactly what hurdles and barrier you - and others - face in their lives, and think about what action can be taken to overcome them.

On the subject of middle class people insisting that they are working class, I think people often feel that becoming middle class is like suddenly belonging to another distinct category of society. But being middle class is really more like being in the middle of a power dynamic. In the middle of the everyday push and pull of power between working class people and people who control markets and industries. Just because you, personally, have more leverage, doesn't mean you have to switch sides. So I don't see any conflict between having middle class means and working class values.

GrandstandingBlueTit Sat 14-Sep-13 02:09:21

Most people that think they are middle class are really working class.

Why do you say this?

BobbyGentry Sat 14-Sep-13 02:16:30

Do the BBC's class test and find out for yourself :D
www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22000973
(Before the age of reason, 80% (not aristocrat or clergy) of the population were classed as 'other' with little or no rights and absolutely no voice. "We're all born equal, just some more equal than the rest,' Wilde. Why would a nation wish the 80% to bash each other, I wonder?
* I'm technical middle class according to the BBC's test

Chottie Sat 14-Sep-13 02:29:16

If parents are from two different classes (according to the BBC test smile) what class does that make their DC?

The comment about MC people insisting they are WC rings true. I know of several friends and extended family who insist they are WC.
I'm not sure why they do this?

raisah Sat 14-Sep-13 02:42:32

It is not just the British who are obsesses with class, most Asians are unashamedly snobbish and that is why arranged marriages are so favoured. External variables like the family background, economic & education status are rigourously scrutinised and only potential spouses who tick the boxes will then be considered. Things are changing with people meeting partners at work & college but some still do subconsciously filter people so they marry the person from the right family. It is drummed into us from birth, we often don't know that we are doing it!

MummyBeerest Sat 14-Sep-13 03:10:03

As a non-Brit <love you guys!>

I am constantly astounded at how "class" is determined, and how it affects, your daily life. It's nor just the education and job a person has, but the meals you eat (MC has lunch, WC has dinner, MC then eats dinner while WC have' tea'...WTAF?) the words you say (UC says "what," MC says "sorry, " WC says "pardon,"
...again, WTAF?) and your social interactions (MC people don't open their presents at the birthday party, they wait. WC people open their presents at the party...thrice, I swy WTAF?)...

All these are apparent indicators of a person's class.

Perhaps you all are just more refined than us North Americans. Granted, money and other wordly possessions are noted 'status' symbols for us, but they're just things. If you say please and thank you and excuse me, people think you're A-OK.

*Disclaimer-this is IMO and IME. This may or may not be applicable to you. Yes, you*

JustinBsMum Sat 14-Sep-13 03:24:57

Nowadays I would say that MC are people who are not skint. WC are people on benefits, yes, I know that seems daft but the working class jobs are largely gone, or if they exist are highly paid eg train driver, so the working working class are largely MC and, working class on benefits.

Silverfoxballs Sat 14-Sep-13 08:32:49

Mummybeerest read Watching the English by Kate Fox

There are regional differences as well to add to the confusion.

JakeBullet Sat 14-Sep-13 08:40:32

The BBC thing put me in the Precariat class....the poorest and most deprived. Accurate?

Not in the least as I don't feel poor or deprived in any way. I have a good education, I worked for 30 years before taking time out to be a Carer so have lots of things around me that many people do not.

I can also cook from scratch.....most things and make do and mend. My life is fairly rich I would say.

Admittedly I have gone from being a HR tax payer to being in benefits.....a hell of an eye opener but we manage.

OwlinaTree Sat 14-Sep-13 08:49:34
OwlinaTree Sat 14-Sep-13 08:59:13

There are 2 systems corrolating here, a traditional classssystem with very little social mobility ie Victorian era, and a more modern socioeconomic system with a lot of mobility. This is similar to the States, who have the latter but not the former.

Problem is traditionally people were to some extent grateful for the fact they were mc or uc as you were born that way and supported the wc through charitable work, donations or taxes. Now we have moved to the more socially mobile US idea that if people are poor it's their own fault so as a society we are becoming less tolerant of each other, going in both directions.

Social inequality is a massive problem in the uk. It's more to do with changing attitudes towards each other than traditional class groupings tho.

Rufus43 Sat 14-Sep-13 09:05:43

Established middle class here, but that seems to be based on income and house rather than anything else!

And it also says they do lots of cultural stuff (we don't, and there was no section for going down the pub and cinema) and they went to university (we didn't)

And it's based on my husbands income, I'm a dinner lady

Rufus43 Sat 14-Sep-13 09:07:11

And as has been stated up thread , its a bit too simplistic to say this is my job, or income, or education and be put in a box because of it

scarlettsmummy2 Sat 14-Sep-13 09:08:34

Justinb- disagree. I know lots and lots of middle class people who are skint. If I was defining class on a simplified form I would look at education first and foremost, and then career. There will obviously be those that don't fit this but it is a good starting point. For example-true middle class is degree educated, however there will be lots who don't have degrees who see themselves as middle class based on their income and possessions.

HeadsDownThumbsUp Sat 14-Sep-13 09:08:39

The trouble is that there isn't as much mobility in the UK (or the US) as people want to think. When researchers look systematically at people's educational outcomes and employment situation they tend to find that people's circumstances do fit with the circumstances they were born into, and social inequality persists.

So we get the worst of both worlds in many ways. Not much social mobility and, at the same time, a hardening of attitudes because people believe if people are poor it's their own fault.

OwlinaTree Sat 14-Sep-13 09:11:00

OK maybe not a lot of mobility, but I was thinking of the mobility changes post war era as a whole.

bakingaddict Sat 14-Sep-13 09:15:12

I grew up in a working class household but now live a middle-class life. I think confusion about what to define yourself as is because for some people class is dependent on what your family background is. To my MIL(who incidentally is Asian and far more concerned about class than any English person I know), I am WC because my father was a lorry driver and my mum a housewife even though I myself am university educated and in a professional occupation.

Other people see me as MC because of the occupations of DH and myself. I guess a lot of people including myself will say we are WC even though on appearance we aren't because we define ourselves through our WC upbringing

HeadsDownThumbsUp Sat 14-Sep-13 09:18:43

Sorry, I wasn't disagreeing with you Owlina.

Of course the war, and the post-war era, had a massive effect on social values and there were sudden instances of blocks of social mobility, like widening access to education.

But we don't have anything like that level of mobility at the moment. As you say, social inequality is a massive problem in the UK, and in many ways its made worse by the hardening of attitudes you describe, irrespective of people's actual opportunities.

OwlinaTree Sat 14-Sep-13 09:24:46

And therein is the British dilemma, bakingaddict.

I wonder why it is so important to some to belong to a certain class? I have friends from different soci economic groups (no landed gentry!). I'm not so daft I can't see differences in their lifestyles but I like then as people. Most of my friends like the same things as me tho, that's why we are friends, so most are similar to me and my dh.

Where I work is very different to where I live, in terms of income, so I think I can see a little the effects of economic hardship on children's life chances.

OwlinaTree Sat 14-Sep-13 09:27:51

X post headsdown! I didn't think you were disagreeing, just adding a good point.

I'm guessing the recent economic hardship has a part to play in this too, society gets less tolerant as belts get tightened.

EastwickWitch Sat 14-Sep-13 09:31:10

Jaysus, according to the bbc I'm Elite.
hides Asda list & trots off to Fortnums

CremeEggThief Sat 14-Sep-13 09:57:57

I am a qualified teacher, currently working 5 hours a week as a dinnerlady. I live in a rented house, can't afford to drive and mostly shop at Tesco and Lidl.

I might eat Lidl cake, but I eat it with a fork. Therefore, I declare myself middle-class! grin

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 14-Sep-13 10:12:10

Class does affect people's day to day life. Certainly in particular industries. The old boys back slapping, employing each others kids network is very much a part of that.

Why can't I find the test? Clicked the link etc but no test.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now