To not understand they UK class war???

(236 Posts)
Notcontent Sun 25-Nov-12 22:57:14

Right, so I was just reading the "not fitting in on MN" thread and that got me thinking about something i have thought about many times: why is it that there seems to be a bit of a class war - the whole work class versus middle class thing. I just don't understand it. I have lived in the UK for quite some time, but I just don't get it.

Why, for example, it is seen as a middle class thing for children to eat vegetables?? This is actually very personal to me, because I have just discovered that my dd is being picked on at school about the contents of her lunch box. Now it seems I know why.

Notcontent Sun 25-Nov-12 22:59:20

Apologies form the typo in my heading - they should be the.

mrskeithrichards Sun 25-Nov-12 23:02:42

No, vegetables aren't middle class. A bit boring at times but nothing to do with being middle class.

Class bores me, I don't believe in it, I cringe when people are desperate to declare themselves part of a particular class. It's outdated and in my view nonexistent. I have never discussed it in real life, a total non issue and certainly not a war.

bondigidum Sun 25-Nov-12 23:09:45

Vegetables are middle class? Peh what next.. Carrots have feelings?

I actually did know of someone who said pot noodles/ potato smiles were chavvy. How on earth can food have a status? It is flaming food.

Anyway the class system is very outdated and archaic. Also pretty confusing as to who classes as what and whatever else. I'm not particularly interested. I'm classless wink.

wonderstuff Sun 25-Nov-12 23:16:33

I think we are still very class divided. I do think that different people have different values based on their socio-economic standing and that of their parents.

Not convinced that vegetables are middle class - but would believe that the consumption of vegetables varies along class lines.

I think it is because the gap between the rich and poor in this country is so vast. In countries where the gap is smaller class is insignificant. You only have to look at the cabinet (70% inherited millionaires - reflecting less than 1% of country) to see that the class system is alive and well.

Actually according to Barnardos, children do perceive class in vegatables, "There is a strong link between children’s perceptions of the food people
eat and their affluence, and especially between the brands children eat and
what their family can afford.". See this report. Very sad and very interesting.

lovebunny Sun 25-Nov-12 23:17:52

its how we know where we fit into society. there will be trouble about lunchbox contents no matter what you put in there.

WorraLiberty Sun 25-Nov-12 23:18:32

Children eating vegetables are seen as middle class? confused

I have no idea what sort of world you live in OP but it's great that you can get an internet connection from it.

PessaryPam Sun 25-Nov-12 23:20:16

Who does actually understand the UK class thing? I have never worked out where me and my family fit in, I think the short answer is we don't and I am heartily grateful for that. Who wants to be a stereotype?

usualsuspect3 Sun 25-Nov-12 23:20:26

LOL at MC vegetables.

SomethingOnce Sun 25-Nov-12 23:22:55

IMO 'class war' is something which the beneficiaries of inherited class privilege, and the very wealthy, claim is being waged whenever it is suggested that their privilege or wealth is excessive.

You can not believe in class all you want but that doesn't make it any the less divisive.

It seems obvious to me people with less money will eat a far fewer range of fruits and vegetables.

You'd have to be rich to afford a pineapple or physallis.

So obviously fancy veg and fruit is going to appear MC to some and some children would take the piss if it was in a lunchbox.

flow4 Sun 25-Nov-12 23:26:40

MTP, that report is interesting and a bit depressing. It's 8 years old now, but I'd bet the findings still hold. Thanks for posting.

SomethingOnce Sun 25-Nov-12 23:29:02

What?! Pineapples are frequently on offer and physalis get yellow stickered all the time because nobody knows what the fuck they are.

I love physalis! All the sweeter with a yellow sticker smile

Cheers flow I wouldn't be surprised if it was even worse now.

mrskeithrichards Sun 25-Nov-12 23:32:58

Exactly Pam! They're are cunts the world over, some with millions in the bank and some with fuck all. There are fantastic people wherever you go. Where they live or shop doesn't change that. Some people with nothing need support to break a cycle of shit times and go of to provide an amazing life for their families. Some people with everything they could possibly need can't get it together.

It's about different people not classes.

flow4 Sun 25-Nov-12 23:34:09

No, nor would I. My DS1 gave up packed lunches for school dinners because we only ever had 'weird stuff' (he meant fillings like hummus and mushroom spread), and my DS2 won't put lettuce in his sandwiches or have any other fruit/veg apart from an apple or clem/satsuma, because he gets laughed at hmm.

squeakytoy Sun 25-Nov-12 23:37:26

I would say it depends on the type of vegetables..

Are we talking mashed carrot and swede or baked butternut squash with organic mange tout..

Notcontent Sun 25-Nov-12 23:38:37

Words, I live in London.
I don't think vegetables are MC - just the message I seem to be getting from MN !!!
The issue with my dd's lunch is that she had some pasta salad with parsley and some beans, etc. Nothing exotic!
I certainly don't define myself by class, but I am not British. There have been times when I have had very little money, and other times more.

steppemum Sun 25-Nov-12 23:39:49

We only eat wholemeal bread. My dd has started asking for white bread in her packed lunch because everyone else has it.
older dcs ask me all th etime for crisps and kitkats because others do and they don't
There is definitely a judgement on what people eat

makes me sad actually.

Notcontent Sun 25-Nov-12 23:39:58

See, that's the thing, how on earth can butternut squash be seen as being luxury food???????

squeakytoy Sun 25-Nov-12 23:42:17

It isnt luxury, but it is what I would class as a bit more exotic and less working class. Maybe less so nowadays, but it certainly isnt something that the majority of people eat on a daily basis, unlike carrots, cabbage, peas, broccoli, cauliflower..

apostropheuse Sun 25-Nov-12 23:45:13

Vegetables are middle class? Good grief.

When I were a lass we had our plates piled high with potatoes and vegetables, with small portions of meat or fish. Vegetables were much cheaper than meat. There's me thinking I was brought up in a working-class household too.

WorraLiberty Sun 25-Nov-12 23:47:59

How do people not realise that this 'MN class thing' is a load of billy bollocks?

How do you know that the poster who tells us little Tarquin fell straight from the womb and began eating mung beans and tofu whilst playing the violin and flute in the London Philharmonic Orchestra isn't talking complete and utter bollocks and regularly eats half a packet of jaffas and a mini baby bell for lunch?

SecretNutellaFix Sun 25-Nov-12 23:51:11

Because butternut squash is expensive! Seriously expensive.

As are peppers, babycorn, tomatoes as a general rule, broccoli and cauliflower are expensive as well, if you want to make your own salad the component veg is pricey.

Ds2 was picked on for having little cartons of morrisons own apple juice in his lunch box hmm

steppemum Sun 25-Nov-12 23:53:49

vegetables are cheaper, but the assumption (on mn etc) is that if you are working class you eat sausages and chips for dinner with frozen peas and if you are mc you eat grilled salmon with butternut squash and mange toute

While it is obviously a stereotype, there is often a grain of truth lurking under many stereotypes, which is probably why it continues, and why it winds people up.

Have you ever read some of the food threads on here?
slamon provides omega 3, but tinned tuna is too cheap and nasty to be considered to do the same job etc. (except it does)

(not my opinions, just commenting on what I have seen on here)

apostropheuse Sun 25-Nov-12 23:54:26

worra grin Amen.

I've thought exactly that so often. The packed lunch threads have me helpless with laughter at times.

InNeedOfBrandy Sun 25-Nov-12 23:56:25

IMO and just my thoughts on the matter most MC are not really MC they just percieve themselves better then WC. WC seems to be defined my the underclass now and benefits. MC wish they were UC so buy hunters ect to fit in. MC should be drs and solicitor but now builders, electricions plumbers ect now identify themselves buy MC.

mrskeithrichards Sun 25-Nov-12 23:56:47

But a lot of that relates to income, not class

WorraLiberty Mon 26-Nov-12 00:01:32

apostropheuse do you mean something like this?....

Home made wholemeal bread - the dough kneaded by my own fair hands on a bed of natural stone with metaphysical properties that promote health, inner peace and well being.

Tofu, personally made by weeping angels as they coagulated the soy juice and then pressed the resulting curds into soft white blocks, with the face of baby Jesus etched by their love.

Couscous made with wheat crushed by magical Pixie's feet and lovingly arranged into heart shapes.

A bottle of mineral water personally blessed by Pope Benedict XVI.

scarletforya Mon 26-Nov-12 00:02:34

Looking from the outside in, British people do seem very hung up on class. it seems to be so desperately important to some to be perceived as middle class. To me 'aspirational' is a negative word, almost an insult. Same with 'social mobility'. I just think people who care so desperately what others think of them have no balls. Be yourself and be proud.

It's not like being MC makes people more intelligent or more moral than anyone else, so it's irrelevant.

WorraLiberty Mon 26-Nov-12 00:03:42

Actually in my own personal experience, Indian people are far more obsessed with class than Brits.

steppemum Mon 26-Nov-12 00:04:16

Brandy, reading that just made me think of the Monty Python sketch

I look down to him because he is WC and up to him....etc etc grin

You are right though, and in order to sort it out, you have to start saying things like 'lower middle class' and 'upper middle class'

actually I really don't care, I have chosen to step out of the system and deliberately don't choose to talk to people because we might be similar, but talk to anyone. Then some yummy mummys I know really don't know where or how to place me, because I eat wholemeal bread and help out in school, but I don't 'aspire' to be friends with the naice mums, I just talk to everyone, and will find my friends where I find them, whatever their background.

apostropheuse Mon 26-Nov-12 00:05:06

grin Worra

I wish you would write a recipe book. I would definitely buy it!

Lying in bed giggling like a proper eejit here. My family will think I've gone daft.

steppemum Mon 26-Nov-12 00:07:15

worra, you need a bit of wild rice in there somewhere!

I read an interesting take on 'class' today: working and upper class are defined by taking absolutely no interest in the middle class who does all the fretting. Fretting about the 'right' school, 'right' clothes, 'right' friends, 'right' pronounciation etc etc.
Quite apt, I thought.

I never considered my upbringing 'middle class' or privileged until I saw a bit more of RL. My dad was a teacher, my mum SAHM; we were not poor, but certainly not rich. Is that middle class? I suppose it is, but not in the way the Middletons are middle class...

I think the whole class 'war' thing is a very British situation as this country still has a strong royal family and nobility with ridiculous privileges attached to them. And their name hmm.

apostropheuse Mon 26-Nov-12 00:09:29

Yes and actually the water that Benedict XVI blessed should have been sourced at Lourdes by a consecrated virgin who had fasted for forty days and forty nights beforehand.

squeakytoy Mon 26-Nov-12 00:09:37

I was raised in a northern working class town. Any child turning up with a lunchbox containing carrot batons, raw broccoli or hummus (which probably didnt even exist in the UK in the 80's) would have been royally ripped the piss out of.

I doubt my mother ate butternut squash in her entire life, she only started buying bell peppers in the 1990's and wasnt too sure what to do with them.

It is partly generational, and partly class/wealth related I would say. Growing up in the 70's and 80's, the availability of a wide range of vegetables was non-existent unless you shopped in M & S or other "posh" shops, and the majority of working class people did not, and still do not shop there for their groceries.

Basic bog standard vegetables are cheap and a portion steamed carrot is probably just as nutritious as a portion of steamed asparagus.. at a fraction of the cost.

Eating out in fine dining restaurants is not really a "working class" regularity either.

mrskeithrichards Mon 26-Nov-12 00:11:02

Billy Connolly sums it up nicely.

Notcontent Mon 26-Nov-12 00:12:06

I can buy a decent sized butternut squash for £2. You can make a big pot of soup with that, or two lots of risotto, or a big curry. That's pretty good value.

Notcontent Mon 26-Nov-12 00:16:01

I don't shop at M&S for my veg. I buy them at a local shop. I can get a huge amount for £10.

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 00:19:00

squeaky I was just wondering if class is more of a northern concern. I come from a family of northern mill workers/miners. I very much feel that being WC is part of my identity

I agree that the veggie thing is just generational though

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 00:22:04

Also Working class people have grown their own veg forever. Long before the MCs started coveting allotments grin

SecretNutellaFix Mon 26-Nov-12 00:22:36

Fair enough, but if you have a limited income and seriously limited budget then buying fruit and veg you don't know your family will eat is too great a risk for some people to take.

Personally I loathe butternut squash, dislike risotto and curry is too expensive to make from scratch if you need to buy all the spices.

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 00:23:18

My grandad was a socialist and then a member of labour party until he walked out in protest when the got rid of bank regulations ect before the election. He's from cornwall but most of his life was in the SW, he was very much a WC and proud man who was still harping on about Tony Benn and getting angry with Cameron the day he died. I don't think it's just a north thing.

squeakytoy Mon 26-Nov-12 00:25:10

OP, you arent british though, so your culinary choices will be likely to be somewhat different to standard/traditional british food too.

As a teen I dated a hungarian and I loved going to his house for dinner as his parents cooked traditional hungarian food, which was completely different to anything I had ever eaten in my life.

There are also a lot more international food shops now, that sell the less frequently used fruit and veg at much cheaper prices, but many of the generation who were born to british parents and have been brought up without those foods are likely to be wary of trying new things, or not even know what to do with them.

I am quite an adventurous foodie, despite my mothers reluctance to add anything new to our diets as a kid, and I regularly watch cooking shows, try out new recipes, and buy ingredients that I was never given as a child.

fridgepants Mon 26-Nov-12 00:28:47

"See, that's the thing, how on earth can butternut squash be seen as being luxury food???????"

Having grown up in a working-class town like squeakytoy and had working-class friends (we were not quite - ,my dad was an architect but spent periods being unemployed when we lived off my mum's manual job earnings), I never even tried one until I was at university. I'd never seen one, didn't know what it tasted like, didn't know how to cook it. It might not be very expensive, but it requires the knowledge and skills to be able to do something with it. ( I think I only bought one because it was a pre-prepared pack from Asda that was reduced and had instructions on how to cook it.) I've been served by checkout assistants who didn't recognise some of the veg I bought - one lass in Waitrose thought my sweet potatoes were fancy organic ones. If you're on a low income, buying something that is a bit weird and you/your family may not like is not so appealing.

If you live on an estate, as my sister did with her DCs, your option for shopping is the local Spar which sells very few vegetables and certainly nothing 'exotic'. If you have the money and the ability to get yourself and three kids on the bus to the supermarket, then great. Many can't or don't have the time or the money for four bus fares on top of your food.

I still can't get my head around the idea that it's OK to spend money on food rather than going for the cheapest option automatically, and DP, from a similar background, feels uncomfortable in fancy restaurants.

flow4 Mon 26-Nov-12 00:30:04

I can buy a butternut squash for a quid. But I can buy 2-3 the volume in potatoes for the same amount, so that's probably what I'd buy if I had a tighter budget. And I can get a 'smartprice' chicken curry with rice for 74p, so that might be what I'd buy if I couldn't cook and didn't know what to do with butternut squashes...

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 00:30:07

Oh just to add to my post, you can be wc and not live in poverty, you can be working class and like butternut squash and have 40 different olive oils, you can be wc and ride a bike to te library.

fridgepants Mon 26-Nov-12 00:30:34

My dad lived in Singapore so we regularly ate curries and rice dishes with things from the Chinese supermarket. My schoolfriend, on the other hand, stated she did not like 'foreign food' and refused even to try pizza, because it was never cooked at home.

acceptableinthe80s Mon 26-Nov-12 00:36:04

Class war is alive and kicking. Take a look at the hair dye thread.

LucieMay Mon 26-Nov-12 00:37:12

takataka I think class is very much a northern concern! Like you, I feel wc through and through. My father is now retired and has/d an income and property and savings that would easily put him into the middle class arena, but he still considers himself working class through and through. I agree with him that class can be a much more subtle distinction that money, or even education or job (although the latter obviously plays a big part)- it is more of an attitude and lifestyle.

HelpOneAnother Mon 26-Nov-12 00:49:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 07:47:31

OP, I am utterly confused with the class thing. On one hand it seems to be about money, but on the other hand you get people who are quite well off, but they are still chavvy and not very well educated. It is also meant to depend upon your family, although you can have rich parents and not earn much or vice versa.

Can you get poor middle class people and affluent working class people? Idk.

Everybody seems to want to be middle class, but I think you're only really middle class if you own your home outright and your parents paid for you to go to school, or you pay for your children to go to school. To my mind, if you don't fit that criteria, your still working class, but aspiring to be middle class.

Tbh I don't think it matters though, but being a good person does.

lljkk Mon 26-Nov-12 07:51:27

I don't think eating veggies in lunchbox is MC. The most vulgar people I know used to send mostly salad in for their child's lunch.

I do think that being subscribing to "my child eats veggies & there's something deeply profoundly wrong with your parenting if your child doesn't eat want to eat salad and fruit" IS a particularly MC prejudice. It's the opinion not the action that counts.

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 07:52:32

That's where it went wrong then, if thatcher <spit> didn't sell off the council houses WC wouldn't of become Wanabee MC.

There's upper mc like the middletons and there's lower MC and then there is Middle MC that cycle to the library and and eat from m&s.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 08:02:08

To make matters even more confusing, you have the MC people who are very into their status symbols and they have to have own certain MC items and their houses are always immaculate. But, they are usually mortgaged up to the hilt and have a lot of debt.

On the other hand, there are MC people who think conspicuous displays of wealth are rather vulgar, they drive old bangers, their houses are a mess and their clothes are very old - but they probably have an alotment and make a lot of preserves and actually own their own houses and have no debt.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 08:02:48

Bugger, brain hasn't started working properly yet this morning and I'm writing bollocks - sorry!

cat Mon 26-Nov-12 08:05:35

Only people with no class care about what class they or other people are.



InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 08:05:40

Yes if they're old money then wealth is vulgar if they're new money then it's new hunters and cars and they're houses are immaculate with f&v paint.

Oh mc try and copy upper class by not washing the dc and brushing they're hair.

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 08:06:20


FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 08:16:25

Very true cat!

InNeedOfBrandy, you're onto something there.

The poshest people I've met (very MC as in Middletons MC) have been incredibly nice people, no snobby veiled put downs or stealth boasting about the new Landrover etc. They were actually very down to earth.

I guess it's because they feel very secure about money etc.

MariaMandarin Mon 26-Nov-12 08:26:56

Class is a massive issue in this country. I don't see how some posters can say that it doesn't exist. Maybe they live in an area where everyone is very similar, because in my experience it's the critical dividing factor between people. We have one of the highest rates of mixed race marriage in this country and that's because class, not race, is the defining factor by which people identify themselves and others.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 08:30:56

Class is still a massive issue in this country.

However, due to globalisation and the peculiar economics of the UK many of the traditional middle classes find themselves no better off financially that the working they reinforce the indicators of being middle class and everyhting from lunch boxes to what toy a child plays with becomes a class indicator.

It's pretty pathetic but it's very important to the nouveau pauvre.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 08:33:43

I don't think it's very trendy to admit to being aware of class issues. People know that it's 'lower class' to be bothered about it, so they pretend they're not.

I find the whole class thing very interesting, especially the angst of MC people when worrying about what their lifestyle and consumption says about their social status.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 08:37:48

Me too funbag.

I find people's need to display their middel class credentials hilarious. Especially when said people are skint grin. Then the need for dispaly becomes really enlarged.

Parenting, in particular brings out displays of laughable proportions.

FredFredGeorge Mon 26-Nov-12 08:46:42

I think there are large groups of people where class doesn't matter - and those posters don't see it. Those people are ones in professions or have interests that are not split by class, so meet all sorts of people and couldn't identify an individuals class - could perhaps as an exercise but not otherwise.

If instead you work in a class based profession, do recretional activities more defined by class (The Gymkhana / Greyhound Racing groups are reasonably distinct) then you see it much more, because class does define what you do - but only through the activities.

CailinDana Mon 26-Nov-12 08:48:13

"Nouveau pauvre" grin

Looking at it as an outsider (Irish) the class thing seems very obvious to me. Something DH and I noticed when we were looking for a house is just how cheap ex council houses are. Presumably because no one with money wants to live in a "working class" area. DH works in a very MC environment (university) and when we moved to the our current city and we were looking for a house we were warned off a few different areas by his colleagues as, apparently, they were "rough." We investigated for ourselves and ended up buying in one of these "forbidden" areas. It isn't rough at all! It's working class, definitely, but it's absolutely lovely, and the house we bought is far far bigger and at least £40,000, yes forty thousand pounds cheaper than houses in "better" areas. We were totally non-plussed - it seems completely idiotic to disregard to large, extremely cheap well built, solid houses in a wonderful area just because they happen to have the curse that is "ex-council" hanging over them. But then if people didn't have the prejudice then we wouldn't have got such a cheap house so I suppose I shouldn't complain!

DH's colleagues are definitely bemused at where we've chosen to live. Some of them have even said that in a few years when DH is earning more we can move to a different area - despite us having no intention of moving and us making it clear that we're very happy where we are. They just can't seem to get out of their head that any place that has council housing is automatically rife with crime and drugs. If they actually came here they would see a lovely community, a beautiful park, and an outstanding primary school. The funniest thing of all is that DH's boss has been the most vocal about this, and yet she lives literally just outside our area - across the road from the "border" and can see for herself that the area is fine. What she can't get over I think is that she paid £80,000 more than us for a smaller house, simply because it's not tarred by "council plague".

TheShriekingHarpy Mon 26-Nov-12 08:50:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CailinDana Mon 26-Nov-12 08:55:04

Even my next door neighbour warned me that the parents in the local toddler "might not be my type." She lives in the area out of necessity rather than choice and considers it beneath her, and also beneath me (I must give off a MC vibe!) despite the fact that she admits it's a great place to live <boggle>
The aim when buying a house seems to be to find a place where "people like you" live - ie people with the same class level.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 08:58:51

CailinDana - A lot of old council houses that were built before a certain date are very spacious and have good sized gardens. There were regulations concerning how large rooms should be etc. They are probably better quility builds than many of the new houses that are knocked up today.

FredFredGeorge - class doesn't matter to everyone, but if you grew up in a family where it did, then you're going to be aware of it.

mercibucket Mon 26-Nov-12 08:59:12

Excellent book 'chavs: the demonisation of the working class'

There is a class war, the rich against the poor. You see it in the 'chav' stereotype, so anything considered working class is derided and stereotyped. There is a great deal of social segregation in this country as well, so it is possible to live, go to school, go to work and only meet people of the same social class as you. Working class as a concept is being replaced by lower middle class or chav - a variant on the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor

HullyEastergully Mon 26-Nov-12 09:01:13

OP, really?

You really wonder?

Have you been living in a box?

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 09:03:53

What I don't understand it why the term 'working class' is now used to describe people who are unemployed. Don't working class people work by definition?

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 09:04:16

Yet this thread mainly derides and stereotypes the middle class.

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 09:07:31

veg is middle class WHAT confused I really dont have a notion of class one way or another I do think it means a lot to people but meh it really means nothing,

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 09:07:49

No doubt some of the people who have contributed to this thread are MC? There's some truth in all sterotypes. WC people often have staffies and rotties, whereas MC people have border collies and labs. Stereotyping? Perhaps, but there's also a lot of truth in it.

Peetle Mon 26-Nov-12 09:09:33

I'd say a lot of the class system in the UK is based on some folk insisting they're "better" than others, despite having less money. Not that I'm saying having more money makes you "better".

MariaMandarin Mon 26-Nov-12 09:09:37

FunBagFreddie: They used to until all the traditional working class jobs were taken away. Now we are left with large areas of working class housing and habitation with no jobs to support the area.

MariaMandarin Mon 26-Nov-12 09:14:04

I think it's quite safety deride the middle class since they hold all the power in our society. I feel quite sure they are hardly concerned if some people find it funny that they like butternut squash in their lunch box.

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 09:16:47

Yes I agree it seems WC are now lowerMC or underclass.

mrskeithrichards Mon 26-Nov-12 09:19:35

Nah it's more simple than that. If you work you're working class.

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 09:22:42

No I see so many WC type of men and women in manual jobs that would call themselves MC and don't identify with WC anymore.

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 09:27:13

that would call themselves MC and don't identify with WC anymore.

I thjink is more to do with their house and car that they see themselves as better middle class nothing more,

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 09:31:57

Yes it is that mrsjay an it's this culture of everyone must have everything.

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 09:38:08

an it's this culture of everyone must have everything

yeah I agree with you this we have to have it now culture is rife quite sad imo

AnaisB Mon 26-Nov-12 09:44:24

I think the manual/non-manual split doesn't hold so strictly anymore because people with trades are often able to earn reasonable amount of money whilst lots of non-manual jobs are minimum wage.

whattodotwo Mon 26-Nov-12 10:05:18

(I have name changed for this, because I'm including quite a lot of detail that might 'out' me otherwise...)

I find it interesting too, FunBag. I was brought up in a sort of 'bohemian middle class' family in an affluent part of London, but now as an adult live in a back-to-back terraced house in Yorkshire. I am a single parent with two children by two different fathers, and a well-qualified professional. I have much more education than the national average, and less money. But I couldn't be called 'nouveau pauvre' (a splendid phrase!) because I've lived like this for many years... I shop at Asda and Sainsburys for food, and Primark and M&S for clothes. Generally, working class friends think I'm posh, and the nervous middle classes think I'm a bit of a mess! hmm grin

My two boys, as far as I can see, belong to different classes - or at least identify with different classes. It's weird to watch.

My eldest identifies with the working class boys and men who live around us, and with a more disengaged 'underclass'. His friends and their dads work in shops and pubs and garages, or join the army, or sign on. He got 5 GCSEs - which was an underachievement for him but more than they have. He binge drinks and smokes. His favourite foods are take-away kebabs, Chinese ribs, McD's, toad in the hole and Sunday Roast. In his social group, disagreements are often dealt with violently. He has had several brushes with the police. He expresses Sun newspaper views on most subjects. Until a couple of months ago, he had no aspirations, other than to 'get rich' in some ill-defined way that doesn't involve any actual work. He's back in college now, so maybe that will change - he has started to talk about becoming a journalist. In his free time he hangs out with his mates (sometimes on street corners, but more often at a local WMC now that he gets served) or plays on his playstation or watches Hollywood movies. He wears trackies and Adidas brand clothes and trainers, and would not be seen dead in a charity shop.

My other son is middle class. He is doing well at school, and though he doesn't like the teaching, he still likes learning. He is a bit of a geek. He goes to science club and is learning piano and guitar, and watches 'art house' films. In his free time, he will draw, or build something, or research things on the internet, or go on expeditions with one or two friends. He is vegetarian and health conscious. His favourite foods are salads, especially ones made with avocado, and any veg cooked with garlic. He rarely fights, and never starts anything physical: words are his weapon of choice. He dresses most often in ironed shirts and v-neck jumpers, and slicks his hair back like a 50s film hero. He plans to be a film director or an architect or scientist.

Of course they are young, and their habits and aspirations might change - they almost certainly will. But it is fascinating to me to watch them make such different choices, and signal their identities to the world with the food they eat, the clothes they wear, their hobbies and their attitudes to school...

What I can't quite work out is how specific choices and behaviour become identified with different classes... It isn't to do with money, because there is no doubt that DS1's chosen lifestyle costs much more to maintain than DS2's... confused

mrskeithrichards Mon 26-Nov-12 10:11:42

Exactly, it's personality and not class. This notion that certain activities or interests are an indication of class is odd.

I enjoy rock music and classical, I bake cupcakes and wear an apron and then go to mcd's for dinner. I use washable nappies but bottle feed. I smoke but know a bit about fine wine. I detest quilted Barbour jackets with hunter wellies and wear motorbike boots. Our weekends are bike rides and museums and curling up in front of the fire because it's free and we're seriously skint right now. It's all bullshit.

mercibucket Mon 26-Nov-12 10:12:08

There is of course also the spread of the middle classes upwards, so the upper classes now call themselves middle class. Someone upthread said we are ruled by the middle classes. This is not true. Do you remember david cameron and his 'sharp elbowed middle classes' that he and sam were part of? She is aristocracy and he is descended from one of our many kings. They are very very rich and very upper class. But it is cosier for the proles to pretend they are like us.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 26-Nov-12 10:12:53

The class system is alive and well in Britain,Mumsnet can illustrate that quite well.

Only in the UK can the political parties argue that Labour is more posh the Conservatives because they went to less expensive fee paying scho

dinkybinky Mon 26-Nov-12 10:15:59

I think there are 2 distinct classes ....... posh or chav

MariaMandarin Mon 26-Nov-12 10:16:13

Whattodotwo: Interesting. I have heard people say 'my brother/sister is a chav' so maybe it's not that uncommon for siblings to have different attitudes. I think that your ds2's lifestyle will cost more to maintain in the long run though. He will probably want to go to university, then live in a good area and move to a more expensive city for a rewarding job.

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 10:17:52

I think there are 2 distinct classes ....... posh or chav

Im neither oh no im just confused now do i want to be posh or a chav grin

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 26-Nov-12 10:19:36

*paying schools.

The only difference is now,the working class barely exist. The definition of working class was to work in industry,producing things. So,factories,working in the mines. Given Thatcher started closing down British industry in the 1980's and Blair,Brown and Cameron were and are willing to continue to dismantle it.

Instead the middle class has become incredibly broad. Hence people who are barely affected by child benefit being cut,to whom paying top rate of tax barely makes a dent and those who are royally fucked by it.

It is disingenuous to say the class system doesn't exist or doesn't affect you. People who are foreign nationals in the UK often say both. Just because you can't work out where you fit,doesn't mean you don't. That's the beauty of the class system...eventually everyone will realise where their place is. Usually beneath the Oxbridge and Etonian educates hooray Henry's and their families.

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 10:26:39

funbag it is absolutely not true that everyone wants to be middle class

Like ineedbrandy my dad got an eductaion, a job that would probably be considered MC, bought our house, and would/could most likely be considerd MC in his retirement. He wont have it for a second though. Neither will I.

It is much much deeper than the money you have in the bank/ the job you do these days I think. Also, it means different things to different people. Its about allegiances for me i think. And it is my blood. And life experiences

LucilleBluth Mon 26-Nov-12 10:27:00

Still laughing at vegetables being MC. I grew up very working class, I don't live a typical working class life now......whatever that may be, and my DCs certainly don't but I will always identify as working class no matter how many butter nut squashes I eat.......and I do make a mean BNS soup.

I had veggies shoved down my throat when I was growing up, we always had a fruit bowl overflowing with all kinds of fruit, we even went on foreign holidays and not just to the costa del sol, we had two cars and my parents had a mortgage........still working class though.

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 10:27:44 was brandys grandad...

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 10:29:11

I also think its an attitude and approach to life...but cant articulate that right now

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 10:31:06

YY takataka my grandparents moved out from their council house and had their own residential home business. My grandad would drink single malt £100 a bottle whiskey and smoke a cuban cigar and go to france for smelly cheese and the vineyards, but he was still WC.

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 10:32:27

My mum though is middle class but broke middle class. She was a library and veg mum and would harp on about our great great grandad was a duke in Germany.

Notcontent Mon 26-Nov-12 10:34:50

This thread hasn't gone quite the way I thought it would... It's just like all the other threads. What I don't understand is why people deride each other's choices so much.

I am Australian so I guess that's the problem. In Australia there are big differences in people's incomes, and this difference is probably much greater now, than, say 20 years ago. But there isn't such a mind set about being of a particular class and this obsession with deriding everything as being too "posh".

fridgepants Mon 26-Nov-12 10:35:25

whattodo - I saw the same with my nephews - the middle one was a self-proclaimed 'chav', eating only microwave burgers and wearing only particular brands of sportswear, until he got an apprenticeship which moved him away from the kids he hung out with and into the working world. My youngest nephew is more academic and is quite aspirational in terms of leisure activities, education and even the food he eats. Both were brought up by a single parent on a council estate; one of them fits in with that more than the other.

OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 10:39:33

the thing that gets me is that almost everyone thinks they are middle class these days and have somehow created an illusion that the working classes don't work

ime anyway"

bakingaddict Mon 26-Nov-12 10:42:29

Class is a funny old thing, it's just a way of trying to pigeon hole people and getting them to conform to some notion of what it is to belong to that tribe.

I have well educated friends, having gone to top uni's instead of my former poly one, renting with no real prospect of buying and earning less than myself but I view them as MC and identify myself as WC

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 10:45:38

Nobody on this thread seems to want to be MC. Ime, these threads come up pretty regularly, and are usually filled with people who think they are a hilarious anomaly.

'I went to Oxford but my kids eat processed ham. DH is an accountant but has sky sports. What class are we then?' etc.

I'm middle class. It's fine.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 26-Nov-12 10:47:28

*OwlLady, I have had to explain to my lovely,if socially unaware, friend what the definition of working class is because she was under the misguided belief that they didn't work. Honestly,the clue is in the title! hmm

She was also moderately offended when I pointed out her family were working class,as are mine by and large. I was a bit taken aback by that in all honesty.

OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 10:53:22

Alisvolatpropiis, I experience the same tbh. My parents were an electrician and a cook, they owned their own house, neither were degree educated, we went to the local school. My husband was brought up in council housing, dad was a miner, mum worked in a factory. My husband is a highly skilled engineer has two degrees, I have a degree but do not work in paid employment. We both still think we are working class even though socio economically we are middle confused

OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 10:53:58

we all eat normal food btw, including fruit and vegetables and the odd bit of frozen crap thrown in wink

flow4 Mon 26-Nov-12 10:55:20

I don't think that's true, Morris. I see several people here who are comfortable with whatever class they see themselves as being - working or middle.

I'm middle class. It would be ridiculous for me to pretend or protest otherwise. But IMO, it's my background, education and values that make me so, not my income or even my profession.

And generally, I find myself identifying with people who are at ease with their identities, whatever those are. It's insecurity and pretension that I find unappealing... smile

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 10:55:49

Hmm OP how did you expect the thread to go?

People derides each others choices for all sorts of reasons. And kids can be particularly horrid to each other. If your dc is being picked on about his veggie sticks then the school should be stepping in.

WCes in England were oppressed for centuries and royally fucked over by Margaret Thatcher. On this thread WC have been referred to as vulgar and Chavs. For me 'too posh' is fun sometimes but generally its a tedious social construct isnt it, worthy of mirth IMO

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 10:56:25

Ach im working class with no Middle classness in me,grin dad was a miner mum worked in a factory cleaned worked in cafes now works in a shop I went to college and worked with children dh is a tradesperson ,

flow4 Mon 26-Nov-12 11:01:09

So do we all take our 'fundamental' class identity from our parents, then, - with each person either accepting or rejecting that class as they accept or reject their parents' values?

(I'm genuinely asking - or hypothesising - cos I still can't put my finger on how someone decides on their own class!)

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 11:02:50

(I'm genuinely asking - or hypothesising - cos I still can't put my finger on how someone decides on their own class!)

I think that is how the class system is supposed to work stemming from family education etc etc not that it matters imo cos it really doesn't

OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 11:05:23

Interestingly I think my children will most probably see themselves as middle class, I think they actually might be. We live in a naice area, live in a house in the country (though we rent) we have dogs and chickens, a vegetable patch, we all read, visit national trust houses wink they go to good schools, though still state, they have aspirations that I don't feel I ever had at that age and they talk dead posh compared to megrin

flow4 Mon 26-Nov-12 11:06:00

It really shouldn't matter, but it does seem to, don't you think? Otherwise we wouldn't have a Cabinet full of millionaires, and media companies and courts full of people who went to school with each other... hmm

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 11:06:20

flow i cant really answer what you are asking...I was raised in a WC family, and I just feel WC (strongly). I couldnt choose to reject that, so confused

I didnt realise other people didnt feel a 'class'

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 11:12:21

they are not middle class those the cabinet people are they they are privilaged (sp) beyond belief , scotland doesn't seem to to the middle class thing IME yes you do get people who are richer or have better careers but there doesn't seem to be THAT importance put on class , but saying that only on MN have i ever had a debate about it over and over again the subject pops up

flow4 Mon 26-Nov-12 11:13:54

I do think it's odd... As far as I can see, class is but also isn't determined by ...
- money
- education
- whether you work or not
- your employment, if you do work
- parents' employment

And from what people are saying, it seems more defined by...
- clothing
- food (especially hummus! grin )
- other spending choices

So have our class identities now become entangled with, or even replaced by, consumer identities? confused sad

MariaMandarin Mon 26-Nov-12 11:15:56

'Deciding' what class you are requires class consciousness. My parents are working class and very aware of it. It informs many of their views on life and politics, for example the idea that people are poor because of the way our society is constructed rather than just because they are lazy and stupid. Obviously that rubs off and I feel more working class than MC even though I know I aspire to the perfect MC lifestyle.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 26-Nov-12 11:30:42

*OwlLady I know what you mean. I don't think you can ever "change" classes yourself,because your most formative experiences will relate to it. I think the whole thing about being aspirational is very much related to your children,wanting better for them,that kind of thing.

. I'm not sure how I see myself really, I suppose working class. Mostly because there's an awful lot of money between me and someone who can live in Lisvane (v v middle class area of Cardiff),having a degree doesn't change that fact.

This whole lower and upper middle class thing is a hmm to me.

I did once get told by a posh bloke at uni that "lower middle class girls like you always have such lovely manners". I was very unimpressed!

FredFredGeorge Mon 26-Nov-12 11:43:21

Class identities have been consumer identities since the removal of indentured servitude I'd say. They're defined more by the consumption of goods and spending of leisure time (which is a consumer choice), rather than anything else.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 11:51:41

flow I think our consumer identities are becoming more important to our class identities all the time.

An dmuch of this is driven by the middle classes.

Traditionally your education and your income would mark you out. But nowadays many an arriviste is both better educated and better paid.

So other markers are pushed to the fore. How we do or don't consume is a huge marker. But the real biggie is how we parent. Middle class parenting is very display focussed.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 11:55:27

Middle class parenting is very display focused?

Wtf? Please explain this very odd sounding assertion.

Signed, a middle class parent.

grimbletart Mon 26-Nov-12 12:05:59

Boasting about being middle class is snobbery.

Boating about being working class is inverted snobbery.

Both are bollocks.

olgaga Mon 26-Nov-12 12:12:15

My DD told me recently that at a previous junior school she was often teased when she revealed the green leaves in her sandwich were baby spinach (gasp). Not that it bothered her thankfully, she liked that better than lettuce. But yes there are lots of kids who would go "Bleeeurgh", who would never eat anything like cucumber or cherry toms or even apples and bananas let alone strawberries.

She was also the only one in her class at one point who had never had a tooth filled or extracted either - and I'm talking baby teeth here!

We moved grin!

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 12:12:45

So have our class identities now become entangled with, or even replaced by, consumer identities?

erm I dont know reallyconfused do we have a nice car yes (we have a caravan) do we spend a lot on things and stuff no do I buy things for my children so they are the same as everybody else no,

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 12:14:12

Middle class parenting is very display focussed.

I am not the brightest bulb what does this mean confused

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 26-Nov-12 12:15:40

Absolutely.... it's not 'class' so much as a simple matter of snobbery and inverse snobbery reinforced by social bullying. Extended cliques. Who's like us and who isn't like us. Tall Poppy Syndrome and all the rest.

Ten years ago snobbery was the order of the day but the inverse snobbery so much worse at the moment as everyone desperately tries to crack on they are 'in touch'.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 12:19:52

morris I mean that parenting is now embued with class indicators like never before. It is a way for the middle classes to display their middle class credentials given that education and income are no longer reliable indicators.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 12:25:35

I'm still confused as to exactly what defines people as MC or WC despite the discussion. confused It's all very wooly.

I suppose the reason I take the mickey out of being MC is the whole 'aspirational' thing, which for a lot of people seems to involve having a nicer car, bigger house and more expenive clothes than other people you know. Not exactly very noble aspirations are they? Or maybe most of the MC people I know/have met are snobs.

I would describe myself as nouveau pauvre and an invertaed snob due to my parents banging on about how they were better than other people because of their house and jobs - seriously. grin

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 12:28:40

Middle class credentials? This is guff, sorry. If you're talking about stereotypical stuff ie:

MC: call their kids Jocasta and Horatio, eat organic, say loudly on the bus 'ooh darling, look! There's our favourite library!'

WC: call their kids Sigourney and Levi, eat Greggs, say loudly on the bus 'shut yer fucking face'

Then I daresay the behaviour follows on from how the people actually are, rather than because they want to display social class 'credentials'.

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 12:30:09

'm still confused as to exactly what defines people as MC or WC despite the discussion. It's all very wooly.

and it will continue to be wooly everytime there is a new thread about it confused

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 12:33:06

And I don't agree with funbag either.

I was raised by hippy type, MC intellectuals. I wore jumble sale clothes until I was old enough to work for and buy my own. I was always taught that intelligent people have no interest in outward displays of wealth.

There are many types of MC. Some will be materially aspirational, some will be very anti-consumerist, and many will not be too bothered either way.

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 12:35:18

but i think you get working class people like that (Just wanted to add my children are not called sigounrey or have even been told to eff off )
anyway you get working class people who are materialistic who are showy and you get working class people who are not, people are people imo

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 26-Nov-12 12:35:41

I thought middle class was based on how many generations of family had attended university basically.

Myself and my cousins are the first of our family to go to university,our families are very much working class prior to that. I went to school with much wealthier children whose great grandparents (at least) had attended.

Middle class is the "professions" isn't it? Doctors,lawyers etc? Stereotypically speaking of course.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 12:36:02

Don't be ridiculous morris middle class indicators are far more prevalent than those things.

Entire industries are set up to take advanatge of the MC need to display their credentials. None more radically cynical than anything to do with parenting.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 12:39:49

Then you get the 'anti-consumerist' MC's types who will go on expensive eco holidays and stay in 'earth ships' and stealth boast about their new pellet boiler and the bio-dynamic wine they just bought from a local organic small holding that they discovered while they were at a fermentation workshop.

I love being divisive. grin

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 12:39:50

Wordfactory, how am I being ridiculous?

I'm MC, so understandably a tad touchy about being told that my parenting is display focused.

May I ask which social class you most identify with, and what the accepted parenting style of that class is?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 26-Nov-12 12:40:01

"'m still confused as to exactly what defines people as MC or WC despite the discussion. It's all very wooly."

Because it's snobbery and inverse snobbery and not class. People from all walks of life are capable of being either of those or none. IME people who use phrases like 'sold out' or 'class traitor' tend to be inverse snobs....

Mrsjay Mon 26-Nov-12 12:41:05

I have decided I don't really care >.wanders off thread

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 12:43:53

My gran belongs to the old school, non consumerist working class.

But the modern working class is highly consumerist. Branded sportswear? Pimped cars? Sky tv? Etc etc. Surely nobody here really thinks that modern WC typically don't care for consumer goods beyond the basic necessities.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 12:46:01

It's strange, because I'm friends with a couple and she definitely sees the two of them as MC, while he will actually say to her that "We are just normal working class people". Usually when she says she wants to hire a cleaner or buy something expensive. grin

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 12:48:56

cogit who on earth uses terms like 'class traitor' or 'sold out'?!

we arent on a picket line! grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 26-Nov-12 12:48:59

I agree that display is more often a middle than a working class part of parenting, though display of Stuff or holidays generally less so. Then again, there is always at least one amusing bit of performance parenting when I go to Waitrose, BUT it is only ever, IME, other middle class people who comment on that to one another!

Could we not say that people of all backgrounds, if temperamentally disposed to do so, show off, but that there are types of showing off which are more often associated with one class than another?

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 12:50:06

- Could we not say that people of all backgrounds, if temperamentally disposed to do so, show off, but that there are types of showing off which are more often associated with one class than another?

That's about right.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 12:53:53

Why all that stuff about organic wine then, Freddy?

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 12:54:48

It's not organic, it's biodynamic darling. grin

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 12:55:42

Don't get your point, darling.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 26-Nov-12 12:55:49

@takataka..... Well, right now you see a lot of people in politics accusing others of being 'out of touch'. Not quite as colourful as 'class traitor' I grant you but the implication is clear that they have got too big for their boots, lost connection with their roots and aren't as ordinary as the rest of the tribe expects them to be. Then you get the unedifying spectacle of people trying to appear more ordinary.... dropping their aitches, supping beer, eating pasties or making a big deal out of the school they went to or how they grew up in a cardboard box in't middle o't' road!!

Time was when people did the polar opposite. Sent their kids to elocution & deportment lessons or busted a gut getting them into good schools so that they could climb out of the swamp and make something of themselves.


FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 12:56:20

Google it darling.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 12:57:16

Or you could just explain your point, if you have one?

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 13:00:23

Nope, no point really, I was just being silly. blush

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 13:00:23

Morris no need to be touchy. These are simply my observations.

As for my own class - I think it was lequeen who coined the phrase muddle class and that seems to sum things up.

I am from a solidly WC background. Yet to say I am still WC is disingenuous as I am highly educated, wealthy and haven't lived in a WC comunity for knocking on twenty five years.

However, I'm certainly not MC.

In many ways it's very free. I can pick and choose based entirely on my feelings/instincts/research how I live my life and raise my DC. Obviously I chooose some very MC ways of parenting, but equally I won't steer clear of things because they're considered 'chavvy'. I have no fear of being viewed that way.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 13:06:44

Fair enough Freddie.

WordFactory, we're all 'muddle class' really, surely? I call myself MC but my life is as full of anomaly and contradiction as everybody else's.

You're entitled to your own observations, but I think you'd be touchy too if I said 'working class parenting is mostly providing junk food and crap telly. And swearing at your kids'.

Which I wouldn't say, before anybody thinks I'm that narrow minded.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 13:08:03

And I've never met anybody who doesn't pick and choose in their lives. The idea of doing things purely because you think your social class dictates it is frankly odd.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 26-Nov-12 13:09:12

My grandad says things like 'well, it seems to me perfectly self evident that I worked, and so I am working class', before turning the page of the Torygraph and asking for the marmalade spoon to be passed.

Complex business, hmm?

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 13:09:13

MorrisZapp, sorry, I frequently take the mickey, anyone's fair game. It's all meant in good humour though.blush

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 13:13:29

No worries Freddy, you summed up my parents pretty well as it happens. But they're lovely people, and although the biodynamic stuff is ripe for humour, they're into that stuff because they think, and because they care.

And while I can rib them all day long, I don't like others doing it. Family, you know.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 13:16:27

No probs Morris. In all honesty I have am not adverse to that kind of thing myself, and I clean my home with bicarb and teatree oil. I just don't have enough money for biodynamic wine, so it could be a case of sour grapes on my part - get it. grin

My dad is quite MC and he played in a folk band and did festivals, sprouted his own beans and made his own yoghurt. blush

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 13:17:31

Thing is nit I don't think it is things like that that make us WC or MC.

For example I don't think I'm no longer WC because I read The Times or shop at Boden. It's far more fundemental...if I own the means of production, if I don't live in the WC community, if I'm now highly educated, does that make it disingenuous to identify as WC? These are fundementals no?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 26-Nov-12 13:21:51

No, it's everything else about him as well, to be fair! But perhaps there is some disingenuousness about reducing the definition just to whether you work, is what I meant.

I don't know at what point one 'should' start or stop identifying as a particular class, really. Hence the usefulness of the 'muddle' definition, perhaps

Adversecamber Mon 26-Nov-12 13:23:24

I don't care what class people are I have two groupings for people

Twats and not twats.

afterdinnerkiss Mon 26-Nov-12 13:24:57

you cannot grow up in the UK or around British people without being minutely aware of class differentiation from primary school onwards. what school and uni you went to, how you speak and what you eat are just three of a thousand indicators of your position in our 'classless society'

OP with time you will pick this up and unfortunately your kids will already be subconsciously aware of social classes. the newly arrived and emergent groups automatically slot into the existing class structure.

wordfactory i think i understand and agree that mc parenting is display focused - being concerned for your child's educational attainment is a classic mc trait - as is speaking in the the elaborate code. elaborating and extending your child's experiences and knowledge is part of your hope that your children will have comfortable lives and the best you can provide for them, irrespective of funds available.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 26-Nov-12 13:25:05

Also does anyone else read the thread title in a Dorset accent?

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 13:25:19

Christ Freddie! Now it all comes out smile

SherbetVodka Mon 26-Nov-12 13:25:29

Why, for example, it is seen as a middle class thing for children to eat vegetables??

No idea OP, but I went to a mainly working class school in the 1980s/90s, where anything healthy or even slightly unusual would be derided as "posh" or "weird". Things probably haven't changed much since then.

In my experience, a lot of working class people (though obviously not all) are very suspicious of any food that's outside quite a narrow range of what's considered normal. For example, meat, potatoes and two veg like cabbage or carrots would be fine but not more unusual veg like aubergines or any food that's got a foreign influence. And I really don't think it's just to do with prices either, it's cultural.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 13:25:44

morris I think you need to open your eyes if you don't see people's behaviour constrained by their class.

A lot of WC people view things as not for the likes of us.
A lot of MC people avoid anything considered remotely 'chavvy'.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 13:29:22

Afterdinner, I agree about education being v important to middle class people (and lots of non MC, of course).

But in my world, this is because of wanting them to have a culturally rich life, decent career if they want it etc. I find it a bit insulting to be told that it's for display purposes.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 13:31:44

Of course many people behave according to their class background.

It's just that you mentioned MC parenting but not WC parenting.

What are the indicators of WC parenting, in your view?

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 13:32:46

nit I must admit that I hung on to my WC identity for too long. I should probably accepted that it lacked integrity when I became a laywer and bought my first flat in Chelsea grin....but no I hung on to my identity like a totem pole.

I finally gave way when I was writing a piece for the LLR...

afterdinnerkiss Mon 26-Nov-12 13:33:13

morris agree.
i understood the display as an act between parent and child, to cement the enrichment, rather than to be made outwardly. too imaginative??

mirry2 Mon 26-Nov-12 13:33:47

I beleive that some posters are assuming wealth = middle class = food.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 13:36:40

morris I think the indicators of being WC are far less apparent in parenting per se. WC parents usually have too much to juggle to have a cogent style or a philosophy.

WC credentials are far more apparent in working life and in leisure activities.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 13:38:08

Very true, Sherbet. My grandparents were all WC, and viewed my parents diet as weird and extreme when they became vegetarian in the 80s.

They were typical meat and two veg types. It's generational as well, of course.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 13:38:59

afterdinner just because somehting has a positive outcome doesn't mean it isn't part of a class driven indicator.

SherbetVodka Mon 26-Nov-12 13:39:02

if I don't live in the WC community, if I'm now highly educated, does that make it disingenuous to identify as WC?

My mum is university educated, speaks with a neutral southern MC accent, reads the guardian, has employed cleaners, has lots of books (while skiving off school as a teen and hiding in my room, I once overheard the cleaners talking contemptuously about how "they always have books everywhere, don't they, these people?"), is vegetarian, goes to the theatre and has an allotment.

There's nothing about her that isn't middle class, to most people's eyes. But she still self identifies as working class as. to her, middle class people speak in clipped BBC English, were privately educated, read the Times or telegraph, go horse riding, play tennis or go sailing, are proud to have messy homes (as a class signifier) and are effortlessly self confident. This is what middle class meant when she was growing up.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 13:39:09

I was acused of being chavvy because I like baked beans. I didn't even realise that baked beans had anything to do with class credentials before that. confused Any beans are a good thing from my point of view.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 13:43:46

Hmmm. I know what you mean, wordfactory. But I still don't like it. It's like you think MC concerns with education etc are an indulgence that they couldn't afford if they had real life problems to deal with?

My own MC upbringing has been as full of hardship, drama, health problems and bereavement etc as anybody else. My mum was as knackered as yours, is what I mean.

And now I'm a knackered mother too. But my son's education, diet etc are still paramount, through all the ups and downs.

CailinDana Mon 26-Nov-12 13:45:48

The way I identify whether someone sees themselves as MC or not is their reaction to where I live. No reaction, neutral reaction, positive reaction or "my friend/mum/aunt lives there" = working class. Raised eyebrows, disgusted look, surprised look, (that someone like me lives there), negative comment = middle class. So far in the years I've lived in England reactions to where people live is the most reliable indicator of the class a person identifies with.

I don't identify with a class because I didn't grow up with it so it's not in my psyche IYSWIM.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 13:51:38

Yes, I can also relate to having a family life fraught with health problems. My mother was very ill, and I had a promising career ahead of me until I developed severe health problems of my own. I'm not sure where I fit into the whole class picture, I don't have much money because the sort of work I can do is limited, but I'm quite young and I own my home outright. It's a bit of a grey area. It can be funny to joke about the whole class issue, but honestly, most people don't fit into neat stereotypes. Although some do seem to generally still apply.

GrendelsMum Mon 26-Nov-12 13:53:36

My mum is a non-British anthropologist. She always says that the British class system is fascinating subject of study - and that it's usually very easy to 'sort' people into broad tribes, although they are more nuanced than 'working class', 'middle class' and 'upper class' (and presumably, looking at 19th century novels, always have been?).

I also suspect it's easier to deny the idea that class limits your opportunities and options if you are from a social grouping traditionally perceived to have higher social status.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 14:02:01

morris not an indulgence but sometimes a luxury.

In the past working class families suffered much worse hardship than MC families. Pretending otherwise is patronising.

Now the differences between much of the WC and the MC have lessened. Much of the MC is downwardly mobile. They have far more in common than the MC like to admit. So those indicators become all the more important, some of which actually make the lives of MC parents much much harder.

GrendelsMum Mon 26-Nov-12 14:07:29

Very interesting posts, WordFactory and Morris Zapp (what class affiliations can we spot in both your user names? smile)

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 14:11:35

I wasn't talking about in the past, just my own 1970s childhood.

There isn't a free pass to a comfortable lifestyle for anybody unless they have inherited wealth.

My parents had books, plants, joss sticks, protest marches... and not a pot to piss in.

I know that the classes have lots in common, why do you think its the MC who don't want to admit it? The only person on this thread who hasn't wanted to admit it is you, as you said openly a few posts back.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 14:14:14

I think I have the most MC username on MN smile Somebody else said it, not me.

OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 14:19:33

I think trifles are more of an indicator of your class. Jelly is not a permitted ingredient in a working class trifle

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 14:20:54

So true OwlLady! grin

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 14:23:02

Jelly? But trifle needs jelly, it's a key ingredient.

Hundreds and thousands, now they are never allowed. All wrong.

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 14:26:13

You can't have trifle without jelly! I agree on hundreds and thousands, curled chocolate is much better.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 14:26:15

Trifle transcends class if you stick enough booze in it!

OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 14:26:20

no, no, no jelly

it's a tin of fruit cocktail, some sponge fingers spread with jam, covered in sherry, birds custard and a whipped up tin of cream, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, yes those things

This is the makings of a working class trifle

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 14:27:26

No owl even tesco value trifle has jelly!

HoleyGhost Mon 26-Nov-12 14:28:11

^ They have far more in common than the MC like to admit. So those indicators become all the more important, some of which actually make the lives of MC parents much much harder.^

Eco bling is a big part of this. I know many knackered MC women who are spending every spare minute dealing with washable nappies etc. Insisting on cooking from scratch even when ill and exhausted.

I think that breastfeeding is partly so emotive because it is such a class signifier.

vix206 Mon 26-Nov-12 14:28:44

"Because butternut squash is expensive! Seriously expensive."

I get them at the local supermarket for £1 each!! Not expensive at all!

takataka Mon 26-Nov-12 14:28:50

i think there is probably an element of inherited sense of privelege/entitlement

For example, WC men couldnt vote until 1920 (?). That isnt that long ago in terms of emotional span...i met my Great grandad

OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 14:29:16

I suppose things have changed with respect to food storage and what working class people eat, but when I was a child tinned food was very popular. Tinned ham was a treat brought out of Gran's pantry to have with buttered sunblest bread and you either liked the jelly on it or you didn't, I didn't my sister did. When I first started living with my husband I suggested we have spag bol for tea and he thought I meant the tinned stuff made by Heinz hmm

OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 14:30:55

We are the unusual breastfeeding working class family as we all did it, Gran, aunts, mum, me etc

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 14:38:17

Other way round here. We're all lactivist types until Morris the loser fucked it all up and broke out the aptamil at 11 weeks.

Yes, my class identity played a part in my guilt. It was partly why I lost the plot and ended up on anti depressants.

MorrisZapp Mon 26-Nov-12 14:39:02

But I never put aptamil in a trifle. One must maintain standards.

ClippedPhoenix Mon 26-Nov-12 14:41:16

I live in Fulham and believe me the class system is well and truly alive and kicking.

I'm working class and I can usually tell who's who by looking in their trolleys not that I do this regularly though you understand

Just a little for instance here:

The middle class tend to have a lot of rocket in theirs
Working class tend to have lettuce
The middle class tend to have a lot of wine in theirs
Working class have vodka


OwlLady Mon 26-Nov-12 14:43:26

I am not sure aptamil would whip very well smile

grovel Mon 26-Nov-12 15:07:38

The working classes clock in at work and are paid weekly in cash.
The middle classes are paid monthly by cheque.
The upper classes don't notice whether they've been paid or not.

So declared my aunt.

Technology has taken away this valuable rule of thumb.

TheShriekingHarpy Mon 26-Nov-12 15:22:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jamillalliamilli Mon 26-Nov-12 15:39:53

MN'ers seems to only accept three classes as a given which is odd to me having grown up with five classes and sub divisions within them.

Class and whose anyone’s is doesn't bother me, it’s sometimes useful as a way of understanding why someone thinks the way they do, and have or don’t have, different skills, outside of that it doesn't mean that much nowadays.

Was a bit surprised about ideas of what aspirational means though. To me, it means my children being educated, going to uni and having a career rather than a job. It means having enough income to insure against disasters. It means health not being directly connected to work. It means having greater choices.

It’s not about having better than the people we know, it’s about having better more healthy lives, and control over them, (ours not theirs) and we hold the door open for everyone we know to have the same as what we’re after. It’s not being better than others, it’s about bettering what you have.

TheShriekingHarpy Mon 26-Nov-12 15:51:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheShriekingHarpy Mon 26-Nov-12 15:53:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

usualsuspect3 Mon 26-Nov-12 16:44:33

It was the norm for WC women to BF when I was growing up.

HoleyGhost Mon 26-Nov-12 16:50:49

Norms change

IME lifestyle choices are sometimes taken as grandstanding when they are not e.g. vegetarianism

usualsuspect3 Mon 26-Nov-12 16:56:31

Yes norms do change and WC people don't all eat pigs trotters,tripe and tinned peas.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 17:01:38

It wouldn't surprise me if pigs trotters are now sold in poncy restaurants as an ironic thing.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 26-Nov-12 17:20:44

Funbag...they do! I've eaten at a restaurant where they do just that!

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 17:26:38

Did they also do jellied eels Alis? grin

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 26-Nov-12 17:55:23

No...though I'm sure if they could fit it in to their "theme" they would. The food was nice and all but I was a bit shock at the price of the pigs trotters when I spotted them on the menu!

usualsuspect3 Mon 26-Nov-12 17:56:38

Leave our pigs trotters alone grin

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 18:08:45

A friend of mine used to eat pigs trotters, but after seeing her pluck the bristles out with her eyebrow tweezers, I don't fancy them much.

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 18:21:04

My sons dad loves cow foot! It's one of his favourite meals, and chicken foot soup and pigs trotters and peas. Blurgh.

RuleBritannia Mon 26-Nov-12 18:56:56

Our local butcher sells pigs' cheeks. I ate them when I was small - living in Rutland - and they are known as 'chaps'. It's just a sort of ham and delicious.

And who eats brawn without knowing what goes into it?

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 19:00:52

Chaps, I like that name. smile

I don't really eat meat now, but I used to love a bit of liver - and kidneys too.

Some of the comments I read on MN about food and nutrition are mind-bogglingly snobbish and ill-informed. Sneery comments about tinned fish and frozen meat and vegetables (which are just as nutritious as the fresh kind) for example, and as for the judgy-pants that get hoiked whenever Iceland is mentioned! shock

Iceland actually do an excellent range of budget staples, including fresh fruit and veg, meat and dairy, as well as incredibly cheap frozen tuna and salmon steaks etc. They also offer a free delivery service if you spend more than £25.

Definately a class thing too. If you are on a v. tight budget without access to a car, then doing a daily shop for fresh food to cook from scratch is often out of the question. If you are lucky enough to have a decent sized freezer you can get away with a weekly shop and a cheap return bus-ticket. And food that can be prepared in a microwave saves a hell of a lot on fuel bills compared to using a cooker.

MissNJE Mon 26-Nov-12 22:26:06

I am not English and don't understand the class thing but I often wonder what an English person would 'class' me in.

I come from a very MC (what would be considered MC in Germany) family, was privately educated, went to boarding school and I currently study Economics at a Russell Group HOWEVER I work as a nanny to support myself to be financially independent from my parents . I live in a MC class area and shop at Waitrose. I eat organic food, cut out sugar and gluten and i choose wine over vodka :-)

What else would be important to define my 'class'?

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 26-Nov-12 22:37:16

MissNJE my grandma is german (maternal side) and she is most definatley MC although not highly educated.

GrendelsMum Mon 26-Nov-12 23:04:57

Germans don't count <gavel>

No, it's clear that certain nationalities, particularly Germans and Swedes can work as nannys while being solidly middle class. You're probably being a nanny for some high minded reason such as to experience other cultures and improve your education.

<jokes, really>

fridgepants Mon 26-Nov-12 23:16:57

!"Middle-class folk, born and bred, dropping into the vernacular"

My ex made a big thing of being working class (he was a freelance writer who liked cocktails and would only pay for travel costs in cash, not by a travel pass, because it was 'cool' that way) and it was excruciating when he encountered fake DVD sellers ('C'mon mate, here mate, let's see whatcha got') or kebab shop owners ('Hello boss, portion of chips please boss, nah boss, just red sauce boss')

IneedAsockamnesty Mon 26-Nov-12 23:30:12

Fuckers I now want a trifle

takataka Tue 27-Nov-12 06:36:11

lapsed wasn't Iceland the first to have a no GM policy?

mam29 Tue 27-Nov-12 08:00:40

Ok loath the man but few year ago john prescott did a documentry on class he asked one young girl how do you define your class she looked confused. He then said you you consider yourself working class and she said no think I be middleclass as I aint got a job!

I grew up in small rural town wales, parents split when I was 9 in 80,s was bit self concious as was bit unusual then.
My dad had good job and provided for us by buying mum a house.
But growing up we had little money. I missed some school trips, dident do instruments, rarly went anywhere, no holidays.

At secondry the faves were the middleclass kids,
My mum would describe herself as working class did ironing/cleaning jobs yet dident send me to primary on the estate and dident like me bothering with anyone from the estate.

I got 1st part time job at 15 £1.05 an hour in a poundshop then worked in supermarket through 6th form.
Mum dident think I should go uni the words ideas above your station lifes fulll of dissapointments.

I now live in large city.
I used to be a manager now sahm mum
husband has well paid managers job
we have 3kids all with unuusal names when I go wales they all say who dod you think you are jaimie oliver.There were 3emmas and 2sarahs in my class at juniors.
My kids do clubs gym, ballet/cheerleading, rainbows.
They have an annual holiday although never taken them abroad yet.
we live in leafy affluent area, their schools are in leafy affluent middleclass areas they both attend faith schools.
We are not homeowners we rent as house prices just too silly
By accident we run 2 cars as one inherited.

I guess from the outside we look well off.
But we get by.

we do online shops at waitrose/ocados
but we also shop at nearest sainsburys
do aldis, lidls and farmfoods-love pound shops

Buy mostly 2nd hand boden and joules clothes for the kids.

But I detest asda alawyas have bad time in ours

I would say im slightly more exotic and experimenta with cooking than my mums ever was she hated cooked and was mostly frozen or readymeals.

I remember with pfb weaning decided up to age 2 everything must be organic. I turned into pureeing maniac putting hm babyfood into tubs and the price of foodbill shot up loads.
Fruit and veg is huge cost for us as try keep full fruitbowl

Managed to breastfeed all 3, used cloth so family from home think im middleclass hippy

A lot is about perception.

I see it alot on fb not sure if people trying to advertise their wealth their good lifestyle or their class.

1 fb freind puts on her status that her 1year olds childs tea is fgrilled lemeon sole with new potatoes and veg-I mean ffs
she also eats at pizza express and gourmet burger company
always phptographs the boden and next which i thinks borderline chav dont think they rich but she portrays and works hard to say she is middleclass.

I dont care as long as we got money to get by and happy.

I think its more how others judge you as dds old primary used to be very snobby and cliquey.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 27-Nov-12 10:44:39

Why do you buy 2nd hand boden though mam?

Can't speak for mam, but I buy second hand Boden, m&s, monsoon etc etc as they are better made and last well in the main (always exceptions) I prefer more natural fibres wool, cotton etc so these brands offer that, and the bright cheerful primary colours I prefer as well. Second hand Tesco/matalan etc. Are less common and rarely worth paying for, may ad well buy them new in the frequent sales.

OwlLady Tue 27-Nov-12 11:40:11

takataka, yes they were and they still enforce it on fresh fruit/veg etc

lapsed, i used to work for them and I used to serve pretty well off people by all accounts and someone who works for the bbc as a presenter was a regular in one of the shops I worked in. She used to buy a lot of bacon grin

OwlLady Tue 27-Nov-12 11:42:53

mam29, that's a lovely insightful post. Do put jelly in your trifle though? it is honestly that straightforward wink

ClippedPhoenix Tue 27-Nov-12 11:45:26

So it's not for the labels then grin

mam29 Tue 27-Nov-12 13:47:25

Clipped- Mainly because I like boden clothes as proper little girl stuff and it washes really well same as gap washes like new.
I have tried primark, supermarket brands but they all shrink or fade badly so would rather buy 2nd hand boden/joules . some people must think oh shes got more money than sense and I have satisfaction of paying very little. Nexts very common here.Plus if come to resale get my money backsmile.

Re iceland thing-[they were ahead of their time back in late 90s with non gm really had a ethical stance was proud to work for them then but they they decided that their target customer was chav and dumbed down.

Out went organics, value lines
non promotional grocery lines were extortionate talking £2.50 for jar of table pepper.

They also very limited range on fresh.
Everything ebcame rounded up pricing to £1 and £2 and even then some muppets couldent add up whole numbers .
When they repackaged and pricemarked at £1 weight and size went down.
When on buy one get one free it doubled in price.
they started getting cheap battery chicken from abroad
Most of their frozen meat was from middle east.

Most stores were in run down high streets in rough areas.
They spent so little on wages that always queues.
I know how long they leave their chilled items out of fridge!

hence why chose not to shop their as think they wrong.
I know farmfoods is seen as quite low down supermarlet chain but we have large chset freezer and buy breaded fish, chips,frozen veg/icecream only couldent do whole shop in frozen food retailer but some customers did live off frozen junk and try use their milk vouchers on booze.

We studies class in alevel sociology find it strange

Think its harder these days as is class based on

job title/income bracket
wealth as it how much materialistic things people have but even low incomes seem to have plasmas , i pads ect.

I think its more complex these days.

I guess im lower middle class our like the term muddleclass as from outside looking in we live in affluent area, go affluent school ,read broadsheets, and fairly well dressed most of time.

But maybe I be flamed here but

The poster who said about her 2sons being different

I can fully understand that.

My stepson 14 has been suspended and expelled from 2 schools.
Very much doubt he leave school any qualifications
aspires to do nothing
lives in sports gear
swears, gets into fights and talks in text speak
lives on estate with his mam
now goes to sink comp.
hes so diffrent to how we live our lives and bring up our kids.

I think people are influeneced by people they spend most time with so adulst woukld be freinds/work collegues
kids-would be school freinds.

I wouldemt want my kids influenced by kids like my stepson.
To have no aspiraration, think its not cool to work hard, just be general trouble. I know thats more a moral idea more so than class thing but sits why some schools even though good locally because of class demographics the middle class parents snub them.

Also hate the way labour/guardian journos play class warfare hilst living in very nice houses, sending kids private school then say they understand the poor.

I think a person whos grown up privilaged shouldent be discriminated against but social mobility needs to improve but not sure how thse days with low wages, benefits, cost of housing everything rising the middleclass are feeling poor its now fight of the 4*4s for parking space outside local aldis.

I did witness as kid the middleclass kids moved away did well.
The ones left behind had low paid jobs/no job, council house and kids young.

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 27-Nov-12 18:22:38

I have a full fruit bowl but I still don't have a poxy trifle

redlac Tue 27-Nov-12 18:24:52

Trifle is boggin! Can't beat a bit of Artic roll and some tinned mandarins smile

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