To think the working classes have been demonized in this country?(177 Posts)
I just read an article about it...lost the page though...so can't link sorry! It really resonated with me...it spoke of how their are no positive working class characters on TV anymore...the comedy shows that portray them make them the lowest of the low and shows like TOWIE are only illustrating how the working classed "done good" are only as tacky and badly informed as they "ever were"...and how Little Britain was written by two middle class men who'd been to private schools...so who the eff were THEY to take the piss out of working class girls like they did?
In the 80s we had good, positive and sympathetic worknig class characters like Yosser and it spoke of how Brookside was born of the Thatcher Years and showed a truer representation of the hard working working classes. Those with respect for themselves and a good work ethic. The 50s, 60s and 70s had lots of good literature such as Kes and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Poor Cow, Up the Junction etc
These days people are all about moving forward and away from being working class...nothing wrong with that you may think...why shouldn't people aspire to a better lifestyle? Well of course they should but not if it means that anyone who isn't striving for a bigger house and more "things" is looked down on and called a chav.
Is it all about respectability? Have the real working classes lost their self respect?
(I am working class right through and often feel confused about my past and my present)
I often feel confused about the definition of 'working class'. Can anyone enlighten me?
It's not all down to income...if your parents were in non-professional jobs and you are too...and you are not degree educated, then you're working class.
Sorry...my last post was to raffle
I am working class...I work as a freelance writer and have a degree. BUT...my home is privately rented and I have the kind of accent that you'd hear on Hollyoaks. If you met me...then you'd know I was brought up on a council estate I think.
I have good manners and have travelled, I know how to mix in polite society...but I have "rough edges" which I will always have. I don't mind them...they are part of who I am.
So I am the daughter of a miner and a housewife. Born in the midlands, my parents are seperated and both re-married. I left school at 16 and currently claim benefits.
So I must be working class?
It's not all down to income...if your parents were in non-professional jobs and you are too...and you are not degree educated, then you're working class.
that doesn't stand up these days at all I'm afraid.
it is quite possible to
(a) have the same basic education
(b) the same parental back ground
(c) work at the same job/career/profession
(d) have the same salary
and not have a degree.
And having a degree does not change your social background. You can come off the crappiest sink estate, go to the a failing school, achieve educationally and have a first from Oxford - that does not propel you out of 'the working class'.
Reverse; you can come from the most priviliged back ground, attend the best schools and chose to not go to uni and that does not put in the 'working classes'.
I would think so jaqueline yes...do you not like that label then?
So I am a married mother of three children, both my parents are retired and I lived for most of my life in a desirable south east town and now reside on the Shetland Isles. I am currently on a gap year having just completed my degree and hope to begin my Masters in Social Work later this year. I do voluntary work and tutor other Uni students free of charge.
So I must be Middle Class?
i'm working class, will properly never own my own home particulary in the area I have always lived.
I feel looked down on by people, and feel that there is a an assumption that because I'm poor/low wage that i don't work hard or as hard as people thathave more than me. The realilty is that I work hard, long hours, but for less money thn other people.
trois I know what you're saying and I never said having a degree changed class...I have a degree and said that I am working class. I DID NOT want this thread to become one of those boring "What is class" things....I wanted t to be about the demonisation of the working classes.
Ok, out of our four parents both DFs were manual workers, one DM was a SAHM, the other in a proff role, both DH and I are graduates, we own our own home, we've enough money...but we both work full time. Confusing, not sure I want to be bracketed.
Am having a think about who might be classed as a modern day working class role model.
jaqueline sorry...I don't want to talk about it like this....I want to know what people think of the demonisation of the working classes where there can be no doubt about their class.
grip That's what I want to know about...who do you feel looks down on you?
I just hate all this 'class' stuff. You are who you are, it's the person inside that matters, not the material possessions, education you have or where your family came from. Anyone who looks down on me can just fook right off. I have senior managers at the office who have this attitude and it just makes them look like a bunch of snobby wankers.
I have no issue with being called working class however, I do have issues with labels.
I think that the problem is that the class structure does not exist in the same way it did 20 years ago. There have been numerous stratifications within each class grouping and we now have classes within classes.
The class of society that is truely demonised is what is referred to as the under class.
Stop watching television!
The working class are not demonised in my life (nor indeed any class) .
You cannot explain "class" (actually I dont like "class" it's a bit of an obsolete phrase these days) - social hierarcy to Non-Brits. There are tiny inferences that we would pick up on that incomers wouldnt.
Oh but what about those people who are living in council estates, are on low incomes or unemployed...I doubt they'd agree that class isn't and issue or that the working class structure doesn't exist anymore.
Sorry AwkwardM, my fault it took that direction. Just genuinely interested in perception of class, as I really cannot define it.
trois what bollocks! It's not obsolete at all...it's massively important in the UK...it's going through changes but there IS still a working class.
AkwardMary, sorry but I don't think that it is possible to have a conversation of this type without actually having a clear idea of what is meant by class.
If we don't agree on what class is or which people fall into which class - if any at all, how can we possibly know whether they are being demonised?
I agree. Even in the 90s it was cool to be working class. Oasis etc, and blur trying to be. Nowadays chavs are naff and anyone "credible" are posh boys. I too come from a very working class background, but work in a very middle class setting. I also am confused most if the time!
my boss, my brother, my dad. I feel that I am pitied because i don't have 'stuff'. Constantly being ask 'when' i am moving to a bigger house. (like that will ever happen.) and that I should only have one child, because 2 children can't possibly share in this day and age.
That I should work harder and then I would be able to buy my on home.
I was recently told that both my partner and myself should get second jobs untill we had saved up enough money.
I would have thought 'working class' these days means anyone who is managing to hold onto a job?
Well raffle it's up for debate...what strikes me already in this thread is a sort of denial of the working classes...they don't exist anymore...
In fact the only class catergory that hasn't changed over recent years in my opinion is the upper class.
jaqueline can we agree that "working class" means someone...or a family...who are educated only to secondary school level and who is either unemployed or in a manual job...
You know who I mean by the working classes Jaqueline...you just do!
Then add to that people educated to degree level who can't get a job in their field and therefore do a manual job.
grip do you think the working classes are portrayed badly on tv?
And is there anyone on this thread who can think of a really positive working class character in a fictional show?
Well, if it's so obvious that Jacqueline (or any other poster) knows who the working classes are, how can you claim there's a mass denial?
I'm not sure about in rl, but the middle classes are very much fair game on the online world of mumsnet!
Well yes HalfPast...if they are living in a council estate or a low income area and have low life expectations and children who have no resources available to help them get on in life....AND lack the knowledge to search them out.
Do define 'working class' to us? you can bandy about phrases all you like. Everyone will have a different perception of 'working class'.
you are IMHO digging at what has become the 'under class' - a different genre entirely.
Del boy was positive. Who didn't love del boy and rodders!
Sundae ...I just think people are being a bit awkward about it because it's uncomfortable to talk about and because the middle classes are feeling hard done by...
And is there anyone on this thread who can think of a really positive working class character in a fictional show?
I don't watch televison - I read book s- not Kindles - have I gone up a class or down one?
Star But he's old hat.
trois I mean people who live in deprived areas and who have always done so...people who have no education beyond secondary school and whose parents are the same. People who either work in unskilled jobs or who are unemployed.
Then how do you define low life expectations? Isn't that a personal choice?
What about a degree level person living in a council estate through choice who has decided that they no longer want to go into their particular degree field but get more satisfaction from doing say a low paid carer job?
What class do they fall into?
Erm no because I consider myself working class.
Anywho...Class most definitely still exists in this country and it is without a doubt used to keep people down and yes the explosion of reality television has caused horrible stereo-types to become the norm and make those in a more fortunate position feel better about themselves.
I think people are being a bit awkward because, actually, there ARE so many stratifications in society today that the term 'Working Class' does need to be defined before it gets discussed.
Oh Trois now you're just being a pain in the arse
How are the unemployed "working class" that's a bit of an oxymoron really.
halfpast I meant by "low life expectations* the amount of time which they have to live.
Well Sundae I attempted to define it in my last but one post.
Erm, if you are unemployed you are, by definition, not working...so how can that be called 'working class'?
Sorry Akward I didn't realise you were referring to low life expectancy.
I like being a pain in the arse . Pricking pretentious balloons like you, who give the aura of thinking they are above "working class" and can therefore discuss them like a social experiment that has gone hideously wrong.
Lets hope none of them are reading, eh?
God...why do I feel like people here are being intentionally difficult??
You lose your job it does not mean you lose your class!
Ok I can't think of a tv show that is current
How about music? Is there any positive role models in that industry who you consider wc?
I have a degree by the way, just chose to work in a low paid sector as i thought it was important to enjoy your job and am now a bit stuck with the low pay.
I think that working class people are fair game to laugh or often their opinions aren't as valid as other peoples. I think that the word chav is used to discribe anyone who isn't middle class, and is ofensive, but seems to be acceptable.
trying to think of a positive working class role model, who is happy to be working class and not striving to do better and I can't.
I AM working class you arsehole Trois
So where does the under class fall into this discussion then, someone who lets say is on benefits, has always been on benefits, whos parents were on benefits. Someone who lives on a sink estate and has no more than a very basic education and may not be able to read or write properly.
These people are routinely looked down on by the working classes as well as everyone else in society. Why should we focus on the demonized working classes when they too demonize the under classess?
Or does this bring us back to the discussion of who is in which class, which you clearly do not want to talk about?
trois cross post, this thread is not helping with my class confusion one little bit!
Del boy was a theft, who didn't pay tax, and cheated the system. Not a role model surely
It's more than a job...or the lack of it and I can only assume that everyone here aside from myself is middle class.
I'm comfortable being defined as working class - so in answer to Mary's specific question about working class role models on TV, I would say some Emmerdale characters, the midwives from One Born Every Minute and Kevin Bridges (the comedian). Is that what you mean OP?? Not easy though is it to think of genuine working class role models in the public eye!
jaqueline the "undeclass" you talk of is a relatively new thing though isn't it? Born of Thatcher.
I thought that there might be some on soaps MrsLemon but what about quality drama?
AkwardMary -- 'You lose your job it does not mean you lose your class!'
Now that's funny because according to you because I got a degree I instantly lost my class! You can't have it both ways.
Just a reminder I am in my own opinion working class.
I recall a conversation I had once with a friend from Uni. She spoke in a rather derogatory way of someone we knew because this girl was of 'new money'. I was
griphook thats what I thought, Delboy may be a role model to some but surely not a positive one?!
Erm, yes you might have a point there. Plus dodgy taste in wallpaper.
And dressing gowns.
No...jaqueline Where did I say that? I have a degree but consider myself working class still...
dodgy wallpaper and blow up dolls, does he even rate as a human.
But being serious the only positive role model I can think of is who is not ashamed of being working class and that is Kathy Burke.
Ah yes grip but she's a real person!
Aah right Mary... so how about DCI Banks? Or the hilarious Two Pints Crew (Not 'quality drama' admittedly.... but funny and working class )
For me personally I suppose I have always looked to real life inspirational people as role models. Currently I am a little in luff with my local MP - Rachel Reeves - although I think she went off me a little when I admitted voting tory last time
I cannot stand the class system. It's demoralizing for all "classes". Stop trying to pigeon hole yourselves and get on with life.
Class should be seen and not heard AKA stop talking about it!
I do not believe that the working class have been demonized. Their fate has been worse than that. They have been erased.
Replaced with Underclass. A convenient lable for when the less well off behave in an unsavoury manner.(Getting drunk, not having ALevels, being an unmarried parent, requiring benefits). Or Middle Class when they behave well.(buy houses, have a SAHM & a WOHD, aren't stupid, extol education to their kids).
That sums things up rather nicely Diane!
you got me, Working class people are often portayed as depressed or down trodden, debt ridden with a life that should be pitied, and if only we could all pull together we could make their little lives so much better.
It's as though it is a comfortable place for them to be...when the middle classes get uncomfortable with the way things are going, the imbalances as to what some sections of society get in terms of education, housing, food and health, they can feel better simply by recalling "Ah yes...but those people have no morals do they!" So that's alright then.
You just said that you assumed everyone on this thread aside from yourself was middle class.
It is accurate to say that the media portrays anyone from, shall we say, a lower class bracket in an poor light. They are routinely demonised and this has far reaching consequences for our society as a whole. It is something that I feel passionately about and something that has become worse over the past 10 years.
I understand that the idea of an under class is a relitavely new development but that does not mean that is should be discounted, especially when the people in this social bracket quite possibly recieve the most discrimination and demonzation.
Just thought of "Shameless"...what of that? I don't watch it...are there any positive characters in that?
I "felt" that *Jaqueline" because for some reason I felt that I was being challenged....in terms of my own class.
What makes someone gain the pity/scorn of others in terms of class? Is it those women who turn up on the school run with poorly dressed DC? The ones who might keep their pj bottoms on...or give the DC sausage rolls to eat in their buggies?
If so, is it a lack of pride which earns them the scorn of others?
I watched an interesting interview with the main character from shameless who was adamant that the term chav was racist and shouldn't be used.
Shameless is an appaling programme that I have had the misfortune to watch on one occasion.
It is an appalling portrayal of mainly, the under classes with a good lick of working class characters thrown in. From what I have seen all of them are criminals or deviants of some kind, alcohol and drugs are the norm as well as a complete disregard for society.
ooh Diane - now you have confused me! I consider myself working class as thats what I am - but I fit two of your criteria on each definition, so does that mean I'm not cut and dried working class?
**If it helps, I have A-levels & am an unmarried parent;but, I own my own house with a mortgage & extol the virtue of education to my children.
Actually I possibly fit three of each criteria as I do love a
good binge drink cheeky vino every now & then and also am seen by many of my peers as 'lucky' as I work at home/flexibly (although I would argue that this is not luck but sheer dogged working class determination)
Pride is a funny thing, what one person is proud of may make someone else turn there nose up. I know a girl who is extraordinarily proud of her DVD collection...
IMHO, Shameless has as many positive characters as any other TV programme. It does however pander to those who equate Working class with Under class.
And are there any morals to the tales jaqueline? Or is it vicarious viewing of the "underclass" purely so people can feel superior?
Monroe - that had some good working class characters in, but was axed after series one, so maybe no-one wants to watch shows depicting the working class??
I didn't pick up on any morals but I was just so angry with the whole programme I probably wasn't able to, or maybe you had to watch a full series.
I just hate it.
MrsLemon I have broken fake uggs from Primark...and I eat Greggs now and then..but I also go to the theatre on a regular basis and enjoy good wine and food. I am a freakish hybrid...a monster.
raffle that made me laugh.
Shameless is a comedy/drama! It's charactures of what program makers think estate life is like. It's not comparable to real life.
MissLemon Maybe so...again, I never watched it. I don't seem to have watched ANYTHING do I? It's interesting to try and think them up though...
Boys from the Black Stuff was comedy drama though...but it treated people with respect. Again with Bread...that never let people think the working classes were lower morally did it? The characters were loveable rogues who had good morals and work ethics.
This thread is pathetic.
<cringes and scampers away>
You're right Raffle it is like someone complaining that Ab Fab is an unfair portrayal of the middle and upper classes.
I just hate Shameless but I know loads of people who love it.
Pathetic how Purple? Please enlighten us.
Roffling at Shameless being working class... is it really? I do a bit of extras work and did a day on shameless in 2010. Twas very funny as the actors looked like tramps while in costume but then they open their mouths and the most plummy of plummy accents came out! I've not watched it
apart from that one episode where I was mostly concentrating on my fleeting image but I thought it was very definitely NOT working class? As in the characters DO NOT work, AT ALL, EVER!!
But in Bread all the characters were on the dole. They weren't Working class. At least in Shameless some of the characters actually work. They are teachers, policemen, librarians, owners of small businesses.
I think that my understanding/experience of "working class" must be different to others on this thread....I look at someone like whatshiname on Shameless and if I saw him in real life...I would think "working class" not "Underclass".
I don't use the term...not in my mind or out loud.
purpleromanesco how so? Are you saying that Mary is wrong and that good working class role models are in abundance on our screens??
That was my point MissKeithLemon it is a dipiction of the under classes with a few working class characters thrown in (ie those who run the pub etc) all of whom are criminal and have no regard for society etc etc
It can in no way be considered a drama about the working classess and I also happen to fucking hate it. Have I made that clear enough
Were they all on the dole Diane? They all put their earnings into the teapot every episode I thought! I thought the girl wanted to be a model but was a hairdresser...one was a poet (read on the dole) and the older brother had money...he was some kind of entrepreneur...they were TRYING...that was the thing...and their self respect was intact.
Sorry, Class talk makes me itch. TV or not!
Ignore me, I'm mood swingy tonight and have to stay up until 3 am for work.
I just cannot seperate the working classes who are in jobs to those who are of the same background but are not...they don't automatically become "underclass" because they are unemployed...isn't that term a bad one? Due to making the unemployed into a monsterous thing?
Mary - I'm laughing at the thought of you turning up to the theatre in your broken primani uggs!! (Laughing with you NOT at you you understand!)
Maybe I am a strange hybrid like you too! I went to private/public school too just to really muck the class ishoo up!
Aaah but that is the problem with this discussion Akward... The underclass does now exist. I hate it but it is there and when discussing these types of things we must discuss the stratifications within the class system.
and Bread definitely working class
I think I'd like to see a big series, exploring meaty philosophical, existential, emotional, historical issues, with working class people at its centre, just accidentally.
One of the truly dire things is that when media choose a "neutral" set of characters to dramatise things, by default they tend to be middle class. As though middle class is the default setting. You end up with the impression that the wide world of life-experience and representation belongs to/is the natural setting of/the proper place of the middle class. And the proper place of the working class is some little token corner where they go about exploring the "issue" of being working class.
Just my little bug-bear.
The premise of Bread was that they all were on the dole and scamming the system. The family lived in granddads house and he lived in theirs, so they could each get HB paid to them. The original love affair was between Joey in his fancy car and his Signing On clerk.
I don't think that becoming unemployed makes you part of the underclass anymore than I think getting a degree makes you middle class but society does.
MissLemon I once got commissioned on a Radio 4 show and they were all very Oxbridge...I ALMOST went to the first meeting in a tracksuit and big gold hoops just to befuddle them. I wish I had now. I did have a sobering moment once...I had written a short script which was picked up by a theatre in Manchester and the director sneered at me when he met me...he thought I was middle class writing about the "Poor folk".
He was a bit of a wanker really and assumed a lot. All I had written was from personal experience.
It's late. Have just finished my shift. Yes the wc is demonised in this country, either ridiculed for getting above their station or castigated for feckless ways by TV programmes.
Yet these are the people who keep the country moving.
The term underclass is a horrible one. If I had to name it myself I would call it the hidden class or disaffected class but some twat called it the underclass and so that is what we are stuck with.
It IS late LittleAlbert and I should go to bed. Not sit here bollocking on about something I can't quite get my head around.
I would neither use nor think of 'underclass' - there are working class folk, and then there are the others
also of limited means but I won't use the B word.
Feckless, shameless, chavvy - call them what you will but they are few and far between. Whatever label is given to these type of people is often used to describe the entire working class too. Entirely incorrectly.
Its cos the poshos is thick innit? They can't tell the difference. Good job WE know.
And the writer of Shameless grew up on a council estate, I think he was raised yhis teenage sister
I wonder who started calling it that Jaqueline I think it should be shot down as a term....it's horrid and only exists if people use it instead of working class.
AwkwardMary - those are interesting experiences. The man sneering at you for being posh writing about poor folk is fascinating. It works rather well to keep people down, doesn't it? It has the patina of being "right on" but at the same time is operating on a very nasty, very suppressive logic: "The working classes have limited access to representation and the means of representatin - to be working class is to have limited access to the means of representation - if you represent the working class you cannot, therefore, be "authentically" working class - only the middle class represent the working class - authentic working classness=silent and represented by others.
Very specious. But effective.
Also the refusal to see you as working class - or to find you terrifying when you "act" all working class, or display your working classness too much.
I reckon we could call all that ... what? A structure, or structures of, Bodenising? An absolute inability to "see" working classness or maybe an insistence on re-representing working-classness in ways acceptable to the existing class structure of representation?
I think underclass is linked to all that pomo stuff that decentred Marxism, etc., and wanted to take the issue of class away from agency, revolution and structural stuff. Though whether it was right or left wing I can't remember. My guess would be right-wing.
I think of and use the term underclass as I used and discussed that and the working classess a lot in my dissertation. I hate it but it is used regularly now to describe and pigeon hole a large section of society.
I don't view those catergorised as the underclass as feckless, shameless or chavvy (others may think this is what they are but I don't). They are often the most vunerable members of our society and sadly are not few and far between and desperately need positive role models in their lives and equality of oppertunity in education.
Animula, I completely agree with you re. inability to see the WC and the preference to re-classify. Nasty, nasty, nasty.
That's right Animula I never had the guts to make myself stand out as working class really. My accent has probably faded into something neither here nor there if I'm honest...so the director might have found it hard to "place" me.
It's ok for Johnny Vegas to be all working class but when a woman tries it on, she's shat on.
jaqueline but don't you feel you are doing those people a disservice?
Doea anyone else remember that show in the mid to late ninties? It had three to four stand alone episodes and had been written by a group of people on a council estate. I think it was on BBC2 and the episode that sticks out in my mind was about an ice cream van being used for dealing.
As for classes, I'll stick with Marx for my defintion. The proletariat are the people who are paid wages and the bourgeois are the people who pay them.
Probably a bit too simplistic for modern society but it works for me.
I think I have to go to bed...but thank you for all the insight. It's been very enlightening. I have learned a lot.
I might remember that fridakahlo did it also have one where a little girl and her siblings stole some money from a dealer relative and went to Blackpool and blew it all on crap and a good time?
jaqueline its late and I may have read your post wrongly, but the point I was making about 'feckless, chavvy etc' is that we working class are often referred to in the same way as the few in society who add nothing, literally nothing. It is unfair on us that the term 'underclass' refers from the bottom up and includes us iyswim?
No why would I be?
I am recognising that society and that includes many working class people have decided to define those at the bottom of the class structure as an underclass.
I could refuse to recognise this and not use the terminology but that would then stop me from ever properly being able to challenge it. I refuse to just sweep it under the carpet and pretend that these stratifications in class haven't happened, they have and they must be addressed.
You know, FridaKahlo, I only partly agree with that (about Marx). The little analysis thingy I proffered earlier is very, very indebted to the thinking of Black theorists, theorists of racial oppression and identity, and the experience of living in a racially exploitative and oppressive society/ies. I've found a lot of this work to be subtle and very useful.
I sometimes wonder if one of the problems we have in speaking about the working class these days is because of the debt to Marxism to name and speak of the working class. And we need to accept work done eslewhere and accept it with gratitude.
That said, Marxism, at the end of the day, speaks powerfully of exploitation - which for me is the fndamental thing I'm bothered with - so I'd never want to lose that.
I missed the series set on a council estate. I watch waaay too many US crime dramas.
"underclass" can be useful in highlighting the fact that many people are extremely removed from the structures of production and society in any meaningful way. And that this class has a meaningful presence in the way modern socieites are structured - one requiring of modern analysis.
I think Marx's lumpenproletariat doesn't really cover it.
An interesting idea is that, far from the working classes disappearing, in fact they are expanding. A lot of folk who think of themselves as middle class are, in fact, a new proletariat. Eg. lots of people working in the education indistries, at may levels.
MissKeithLemon -- 'the point I was making about 'feckless, chavvy etc' is that we working class are often referred to in the same way as the few in society who add nothing, literally nothing. It is unfair on us that the term 'underclass' refers from the bottom up and includes us iyswim?'
This is almost my entire point, what you have just said is that you are fed up as a working class person of being lumped in with the underclasses who offer nothing to society.
Yes you are right there is some blurring of the lines between the lower classes but generally the working classess are held in a higher esteem than those in the underclasses. You yourself have just defined yourself as seperate to those who in your opinion contribute nothing. You do not want to be placed in the same class as that group of people, you do not want to be associated with those people who contribute nothing.
Some people are wankers and happily take from everyone and never, ever contribute to society. However, I would argue that these people are in all classes and would not be how I define the underclass.
That does ring a bell AkwardMary
Right I am off to bed otherwise my 3 will be the ones turning up late wearing pyjamas, without their gym kit or a healthy snack.
Now add that to the fact that I am on benefits and live in a council house and by God there will be no saving me from the class snobs
I love these types of thread and I don't care how boring they are to others. Thanks for starting it AkwardMary, will catch up tomorrow.
Aah but Jaqueline - as I said upthread - I don't believe that there are enough feckless, workshy layabouts to justify with a label other than a personal one. 'Criminal' would work just as well for me. That way no confusion for anyone It seems to me these days that 'benefit cheat' or 'twoca' is lumped in together with 'working class' which has now been re-named as 'underclass' in certain media...
I'm off to bed now and I'm tired so being a bit slow' but I think we agree
'benefit cheat' or 'twoca' for example
An op of a thread on here recently defined the underclass as anyone who wouldn't bf affected by mansion tax
I mean BE affected ( not bf affected)
Two tv series spring to mind. Clocking Off which was on around 2000 and a one off drama called Never Never (which had John Simm in it) he played a loan shark on a council estate also around 2000. I only watched Never Never once when it was originally broadcast but its on youtube. I plan to watch it again as soon as ive got time.
It pisses me off that a lot of these dramas arent avilable on DVD.
I suppose "The Street" was a good example of a show which had lots of postive examples of working class people in it....it had very varied storylines and was a really brilliant series imo. Jimmy McGovern is a very talented man indeed...and that brings to mind This is England....an unbiased portrayal of the working classes maybe?
Another thought occurred to me re. "The Underclass"
By creating another class...ie "The Underclass" the middle classes can succesfully remove thmselves from the working classes cant they?
The middle classes ae struggling a lot right now...many are suffering from the effects of the cuts...but they can take comfort in an underclass... "Oh we may be struggling but we're still middle class because we're not working class or Underclass."...they are cushioned from becoming working class by the real working classes acting as a buffer between them and the "Underclass".
Very good point Mary 08:50
I agree, although I do subscribe to the idea that there are only two classes and this is now becoming more obvious and is more important to recognise now. Sociologists like to invent categories to define people, those categories need to be redefined.
I'm shocked that even the working class seem to think that there is an underclass. Why? is it because they hate to be at the bottom of the social pile, so it suits to have a class below them?
I don't think creating an 'underclass' enables the middle classes to remove themselves from the 'working class'.
A friend and I were discussing recently how his mum lived in a 'working class' area and had as much pride in her conduct and appearance as her neighbours did. She scrubbed her front step daily apparently!
The 'working classes' have traditionally and historically worked hard, done their best by their families, aspired to 'better' themselves either educationally or financially.
There are some skewed ideas of middle class nowadays. It's an unhelpful term because for some people it means money, others education, others manners and conduct. For my mum, being middle class means owning your own home (outright not mortgaged because that describes her) and not living hand to mouth (i.e. being able to save rather than relying on 'the never never'). For me, it's about conduct, education and occupation. For some of my neighbours it's about how stylish and 'classy' your home is and where you do your shopping (food and clothes).
The 'underclass' for me describes the 'entitled' the "I know my rights". Those who are happy and willing to play out their whole lives in public either on the streets, on FB, on JK. Those who don't have respect for themselves, others, where their live, society/community. Those who have removed themselves from 'respectable' society. Those who are brazen about their lack of education/employment and wear it as a badge of honour (and yes, I have met/known those people). For me, a lot of 'class' is about attitude rather than tangible things like wealth. And yes, I think that some very wealthy people are members of the 'underclass' - they just have the means to keep themselves out of it on appearances.
There is nothing not respectable about working - whatever your job is, how ever much money you earn or whoever owns your house.
There are people who say that the welfare system is partly responsible and I agree. Anyone who has ever claimed benefits for any length of time, or lived in areas where there are a lot of people who do, will know that it is perfectly possible to present yourself/be middle class and live on benefits. It is also perfectly possible to be a member of the 'underclass'.
I was a single mother on benefits living in social housing when my son was young. And no one knew (who didn't actually know of course!). I had the same standards, values, 'lifestyle', conduct and attitude towards myself, my family and society (good and less good!) when my income was benefits as I did when I was a married professional graduate and we had a combined household income of £50k.
Phew that was long!
The really, really awful thing about the catergorisation of the underclasses is that everyone is thinking that it is made up of feckless, valueless, workshy people who know their rights and take pride in never working.
Can people not see that this is an appaling attitude to have, yes some people who are considered the underclass will have this attitude however, a lot of people in this class come from homes where working has never been the done thing, their parents and possibly grandparents have never worked, education has never been considered important, they have never had the benefit of values that say the working classes and middle classes have. Yes OK their values differ but they have them.
A lot of these people never had a chance in life and are now stuck being classed as an underclass, looked down on by every other social group and stereotyped by typical Daily Mail sensationalism.
In my opinion people who are placed in the underclass catergory are not all workshy, feckless, know their right, don't contribute anything to society and brag about it people, but more those who have had the most appaling start in life, the most vulnerable in society who have not had the benefit of a work ethic instilled in them and who probably struggle to read and write because education was never considered important.
Yes the working classes get a bad time of it in the press and from other classes but they have always had their pride. Every working class person I know is proud of who they are and the work they do and proud to be working class.
I don't like the fact that an underclass has developed I think it is horrible and as I have said previously I believe that the hidden class or disaffectecd class would be a better description for it, but I can not ignore it just because I don't like what it is called, to do that would be to try and brush that whole group of people under the carpet.
I understand that I am rambling now but it just annoys me that here we are talking about how the working classes have been demonized and how wrong that is and yet in the same breath demonizing another whole class of people by refering to them as work shy etc.
Yabu, working class is idealised in this country and everyone likes to pretend they are salt of the earth. Aspiration is sadly a dirty word to many.
I think the phrase 'working class' has been hijacked. The people I have met who have spoken in defense of 'the working class' have been those who have never held down a job in their life and lived entirely on benefits, but refused to believe they were anything other than 'working class'. Apparantly pointing out the flaw in their argument made me a middle class snob.
It lands like
(a) they are chavs
(b) they are hoodies
(c) they are benefit scroungers
(d) they eat shit food from Iceland
I find it really sad, and also how easy it is to look down on people in the UK
the goverment is slowly introducing a "fuck em all" culture
Completely agree worldgonecrazy.
The working class has split out into those who still have the 'pride in their work' ethic, and those who have given up their values to live out of societies pocket. These are the 'underclass' (or sometimes referred to as 'welfare class').
"the goverment is slowly introducing a "fuck em all" culture"
Nope. Its introducing a 'your actions have consequences as we wont put up with your sh1t any longer' culture. And its about time too. We want to shrink the underclass, not grow it.
Where will it shrink to though looktoshinford? Where will they go if they're unemployable and there are not enough jobs?
Hmmm, looking at this again, I think that we are mostly all in agreement apart from the actual words used in our various descriptions.
For me personally I don't like any type of label for a group of people on benefits. It is a big misnomer (? sp) that people claiming benefits have anything else in common at all.
For instance, I know a neighbour who is currently claiming benefits. She is single, no children, hardworking but currently unemployed. She does rent her flat from the local housing association and her rent is fairly low in comparison to other rents in our area (private). I have no doubt that within a few weeks she will be back on her feet again. She has tenacity and has been made redundant twice in three years. She will only remain on JSA for as long as is necessary to keep herself going.
I also have an ex bil a few streets away. He is 39. He is a heroin addict and has spent all of his adult life in and out of prison. He has no interest in ever coming off benefits. He actually refers to every second Tuesday as 'payday'. This winds me up no end and we bicker about it a lot. He is a bright, humerous man. He also has no interest whatsoever in growing up and acting in a socially responsible manner. He has even burgled my garden shed before - stealing his own nephews bike.
According to the Daily Mail they are both part of the 'underclass'. (thats how they both feel.)
But, these two people are not the same in any way - class or otherwise. In fact the only thing they have in common is that they both think/refer to me as 'posh'. They both cite that I am 'posh' because I went to private school (forces/scholarship) and now own my own house (with a mortgage). I am however a single mum of two, I take any money offered by the government (cos I is not silly!) atm this is child benefit only, but in the past has also included wtc/ctc. I am not posh!!
I guess my point is that I believe 'working classes' do still very much exist, but not in the way they are portrayed on TV, in the media etc.
I'm interested in the idea of the working class expanding especially as we are all meant to be middle class now.
It kind of chimes with my own experience.
littleAlbert How do you mean? We're all meant to be middle class?
MissLemon the examples you've illustrated highlight what we all know reall but which some people are afraid to point out...it's about respectability....you are respectable or you aren't. The single woman on benefits is..your BIL isn't. There seems to have been a loss of basic pride amongst a certain portion of society.
For me the lines became blurred late 80's. I grew up on a council estate with working class people. The people left when mortgages became feasible leaving my estate without the good role models. Then the housing boom where tradesmen, estate agents, property investors etc became good wage jobs so although working class they could afford a middle class lifestyle. I would be classed as working class but I have a middle class lifestyle, there are those who consider themselves middle class now leading a working class lifestyle being priced out of their area of choice.
People who work are not demonised. Nobody demonises the 'working class'. Very few people can get through life without working. We are all working class.
People who live off benefits all their life are the 'underclass' and are demonised (I exclude people trying to get a job or who are truely disabled).
People who work in low paid manual jobs often resent lazy scroungers in their community.
Oh, I am on a tea break at work so don't have the time to read all the thread (don't hate me) I will catch up later. I just thought some of you may be interested in a book by Owen Jones called Chavs: Demonisation of the Working Classes. I have almost finished it and found it interesting and well worth reading.
Interestingly I was asking a mum at the nursery gates what she thinks of the school her eldest goes to, she said it was probably fine if for girls, but she wanted to take her sons out as "you can't be sure they will be sitting next to a middle class child". Stuned, on so many levels.
Thank you Meowchut! that was the review I read which made me begin the thread! MoreBeta read the thread....we have been over what you said...
Paul Abbott has written some excellent drama about the working classes. Clocking Off in particular.
But don't forget the working classes are no longer the homogenous group they once were. They don't all work in a pit or in a factory. It's no longer applicable to depict them like that.
Perhaps look to dramas like Scott and Bailey who are both working class women.
Or the excellent Jackson Brodie series.
In fact crime literature and drama is very focussed on the working classes.
Owen Jones is a class warrior spouting angry left wing student politics (thus the BBC seem to love him). Seems all of societies ills can be laid firmly at the feet of the rich and Thatcher <wail>
He may be a decent political commentator in a few years, when he loses the rose tinted glasses.
I think this is so important. I am and will always be working class. I was born and raised on a council estate. I was a young single mum on benefits for a year. Then got my arse into gear and realised that education would help me to take better control of my life. I am now a uni lecturer and writer. I think working class is now wrongly used to describe people who don't work, often its the media. I will never be ashamed of my past and feel quite protective of the term working class. Where are all the working class heros??????
not read the whole thread but has anyone mentioned the books 'chavs' the demonisation of the working class? interesting read. YANBU and I was just thinking the other day I really miss brookside!
It's a quote from Tony Blair: "we are all middle class now"
Has East Enders and Coronation Street had an effect on the attitude to the working class?
I think society has lost itself.
My MIL was/is the daughter of a miner who later went into service. She went to grammar school and then teacher training college. She will always have some working class traits, talking about money and not holding a knife and fork properly but she has never been common.
My mother was a ballerina, daughter of landed gentry, got knocked up before she was married and married in haste - is utterly refined but has always had slightly reprobate tendencies whilst emitting utter poshness. Think of a refined version of Joanna Lumley in Ab Fab - and at 76 can still pull off a pair of leather trousers and leopard print pumps.
I think there were and are some very refined working class people and some upper class people who are a bit common, eg, Paris Hilton. Victoria Beckham leads a middle class life style but, imo, is nevertheless eye wateringly common. Carole Middleton may have working class roots but is enviably refined.
*Little Albert* Cherie Blair may have middle class trappings but she is NOT middle class. Tony is but not Cherie.
I think anyone who needs to hold down a salaried job to pay the bills is working class - regardless of their education or accent Class snobbery which goes both ways is nothing new in Britain - there have always been toffs who mock those supposedly less fortunate than themselves (generally I find those people are quite miserable though and not nearly as well-off as they like to appear) and also those who deride anything beyond a hard-scrabble existence as being 'posh'. I wouldn't rely on television portrayals of class as a measure of self-worth .
Given 95% (or similar) of the population think they are WC, yabu.
The "underclass" have been unfairly demonised though, I'd say. As feckless scroungers & worse, meaning anyone else who can't organise their lives very well, even though a lot folk have undiagnosed or untreated SN and MH issues and started life with terrible social problems that were bound to haunt them.
Where did you get that figure ragged? I bet FAR more people woulld claim to be middle class...I agree though with what you say about undiagnosed MH or SN amongst the "feckless poor"....it makes a LOT of sense.
Without support, my adult friend with ADHD would probably be homeless and jobless...however he had a good network of educated friends who encouraged him to seek a diagnosis for his continuing problems with oranising his life, getting to work etc....it is a heartbreaking thought actually...I know that SOME people are simply lazy or entitled....but yet others are demoralized an depressed through a cycle of poverty and bad conditions.
"The "underclass" have been unfairly demonised though"
Hug the underclass, eh? No thanks. They really arent welcome because they are defined by their behaviour not their situation.
Vast amounts of money have been thrown at them with no result.
You friend is working class AwkwardMary. Its all about attitude. MH and SN has nothing at all to do with it, other than how much the underclass can blag on the disability.
My friend is the principal of a well known and respected Drama School Shinford...he is working class though...but he has his struggles...and surmounts them with support.
Another vote for Owen Jones. One point he makes is how traditional working class work,ie unionised, job-for-life, semi or un-skilled, pays enough to suopport a family, realistic career path nd progression, follow your dad down the mines type work just doesn't exist any more, and this has had a massive negative effect on social cohesion. The victims of this then get blamed for the effects of it. I really believe this to be true.
Fair cop, I was suggesting 95% off top of my head, based on what you hear on any radio phone in. But the weird thing is that when I try to find stats for self-identity of class (proper recent research) I can't get any consensus (in 21st century UK). From 20 to 90%+ are recently reported as identifying with WC, and MC identity for 20-70%. The only thing the polls & pundits seem to agree on is that Britain is now very confused about class identity.
i think some of the confusion is due to traditionally WC people who are still working having access to things or lifestyles that traditionally MC people had i.e. foreign travel, 'exotic' food, lots of material goods and very comfortable homes. there is a pride in calling oneself working class, i do it myself despite, university, property ownership, travel, books etc..my parents aspired to this. i think that in the 70s and 80s society or access to work opened up a bit so that more WC people had opportunities that they could not or did not know how to take before so there has been a shift in how we, in reasonable work, all live.
With regard to television, i think that Coronation Street reflects this. Many of the characters come into the show with 'car crash' lives, poverty, bad marriages, poor parenting and end up living decently, steadily by getting a job and then settling down. i don't watch EastEnders, it is an example of how MC people see the WC in London, crap lives, poverty of ambition etc. the characters live within 3 miles of the City and the West End and they all live like crap, no one works in a bank or office, only the criminals have money, everyone else seems to live a hand to mouth existence.
Creighton I agree about EE. It's a pantomime and has no basis in the reality of ordinary lives in London - where are the builders, bus drivers, tube workers, nursery nurses, nurses, teachers?
Am currently watching Benidorm. I love it, however it is yet another programme that reclassified the working class as "under class". Freakish Brit scum in the sun.
I find Corrie OK, yes there are car crash lives, but such is the stuff of TV drama. No one is going to tune in to watch ordinary people. They are boring. The problem is not TV per se, it is the factual media pandering to those need to look down on others in order to make themselves feel better.
The real Working class are not shown or talked about. They are ignored. They no longer have a voice unless they call themselves Middle class.
MoreBeta. I agree with you completely. Working people are not demonised, whatever their class. Who doesn't love a grafter?
Noone has mentioned the Royle Family? Although I guess that is getting pretty old now I guess... That seems pretty positive or was there some terrible subtext I missed?
I am pretty middle class as are all my friends, but I must admit I baulk at some of the things some of them say about people who are working class / underclass / poorer than them. Some of it is outright horrid and considered, some is what they would class as "banter", more off the cuff remarks. They would NEVER talk about gay people, people of any particular race, disabled people that way. It hacks me off. I don't often pull them up on it, think I need to read this book to get some better arguments to have with them.
some of the posts on here about 'lazy scroungers' and 'common' folk are making me feel ill. Has anyone seen the unemployment figures recently? What is it.... 4 million people applying for half a million jobs? And that doesn't take into account the high volume of people who earn below what could be called a 'living wage'. Blame Thatcher and the rich.... too right. Since the late 80s the divide between rich and poor has grown ever wider. And we're encouraged to demonise the 'chavs' to keep us feeling they're the problem.... benefit fraud - £ 1 billion - tax avoidance - £17 billion.
I live in a council property, have a DP who is currently unemployed (redundancy), we have 2 children, claim tax credits (shock horror).. Oh and we get buses/walk everywhere.
I have a fairly low paid full time job, BUT I am starting from the bottom. My job has potential, HUGE potential to give me and my family a better lifestyle. I also pay full rent and council tax so people can't call us for claiming housing and council tax benefit. My "chavvy council house" is clean and well presented; my partner and I take pride in where we live.
Being a working class person isn't all that bad, as long as you don't want want want and can live without luxuries
I agree with the OP that there is much demonisation of people and groups of people who would probably fit the most usual definitions of the term 'working class'.
Some thing like The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner, whilst it depicts a criminal, fairly amoral and unsympathetic main character, is also concerned with wider social issues and unfairnesses at play in forming his character, and it shows the protagonist reflecting and theorising and thinking ... even if what he comes up with is pretty grim!
Then again, I think there was lots more overt snobbery in some seminal texts of the 60s and 70s... The Collector is in many ways all about class. The L Shaped room and its sequels are horribly snobbish. And racist.
Interesting thread, anyway.
Hmmmm. Degrees and jobs really do not matter an iota anymore. Wealth and possessions are equally unimportant.
Your social class is down to your family background, upbringing, schooling and intrinsic values.
Really, lower-middle and upper-working tend to blend , middle-middle is desperate to be seen as upper-middle, upper-middle feeling resentful of landed chaps etc ad nauseam.
Only lower-working and proper upper class don't give a damn.
there is no 'working class'. the respectable working class became lower middle with the expansion of university education from the 1960s onwards, and the rest sank into chavdom.
I've got backache from working this week so i'm definitely working class ;)
PS. this is a very old thread.
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