Why do people care about class?

(254 Posts)

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

AIBU or just ignorant?

Maryz Thu 31-Jan-13 21:46:55

'cos you're all English of course shock

It is vair, vair important, and all to do with crooking your little finger when drinking tea or summat.

I have to admit I only know what a chav is because of mumsnet.

Isildur Thu 31-Jan-13 21:49:23

A concept of class underlies the monarchy.

It has become the English way.

I mean 'The Underclass', WTF?

MamaMary Thu 31-Jan-13 21:49:31

I have been astounded at the obsession with class on MN - it reveals that (English) people really are obsessed with it.

The thread on the citizenship test - where people made up questions for an alternative test - was a real eye-opener for me. The vast majority of questions (supposedly to pose to newcomers) were about class. It is clearly a very important issue for many people.

As for me I am totally baffled by it.

I see it as a tribal thing. Cluster with your own crowd and you feel safer?

chickensarmpit Thu 31-Jan-13 21:51:32

It doesn't bother me to be fair. We all come into this the world the same way we go out. With fuck all.

KatyTheCleaningLady Thu 31-Jan-13 21:51:46

I'd say that you are lucky if you are truly oblivious to class.

In the US (where I am from) most people are in deep denial about class. They don't really understand the categories very well, and confuse "class" with "virtue." As in "My grandpappy was a hog farmer and he had more class in his little pinkie toe than Donald Trump has in his entire life!!!" Or, they confuse class with income.

I once made a comment to some Americans about some "posh" people who had been behaving obnoxiously in a restaurant. They demanded to know how I knew they were "posh." Many of them flatly refused to believe that you can tell social class with fair accuracy, and most of them confused class with income, wanting to know how I could possibly know how much money they had.

I do think class is a real thing, and that most people recognize it and there is a general consensus on what class people belong in, particularly in regards to knowing if you are one of them or not.

But, in the UK, it seems that people are much more open about it and talk about it openly.

Does it make a difference that I consider myself British and not English (born in England but part Scottish and lived in Wales for over a third of my life!)? grin

MamaMary Thu 31-Jan-13 21:52:17

And feel superior by looking down on others, who you believe behave in a certain way that is different and inferior to you.

LynetteScavo Thu 31-Jan-13 21:57:07

I am very English.

My Grandmother was very, very British (even though she didn't step foot in the UK until she was in her 50's).

These days class is no longer about money, or education...it's about values.

Unless you are conservative.

LynetteScavo Thu 31-Jan-13 21:57:32

Or should I say, vote Conservative.

I agree that there are people who behave differently to me but I think it's more down to personality, not class.

apostropheuse Thu 31-Jan-13 22:00:58

I don't do class.

Newborn children untouched by the world are the same.
We all bleed when we're cut.
We all have the same bodily functions.
We will all rot in the grave when we die.

To define someone as lower, working, middle, upper class I find divisive and offensive in the extreme.

People are people.

BikeRunSki Thu 31-Jan-13 22:05:35

People care about class because they are snobs.

LynetteScavo Thu 31-Jan-13 22:05:51

apostropheuse, you sound rather working class.

<<runs off sniggering>>

Maryz Thu 31-Jan-13 22:06:08

See, I get more pissed off by inverse snobbery. I can laugh at snobbery (I suppose because I was lucky that my parents brought me up to look at everyone as equals, no matter what their background or financial status), but inverse snobbery really gets me.

So I can feel a bit sorry for people who think they are better than everyone else, because they are so obviously wrong.

But I get very cross at people who despise people that they themselves think are better than them (if I've explained that properly). Hating people because you feel inferior to them is just plain bananas.

LynetteScavo Thu 31-Jan-13 22:07:22

BikeRunSki, does that include working and lower middle class?

I know some upper middle class people (by my calculation, for want of a better word) who don't care about class.

I don't understand class at all. confused I mean, 200 years ago I guess it was fairly clear cut but now I haven't a clue. I couldn't tell you what class I am and don't have the faintest idea how to work it out!

mrsbunnylove Thu 31-Jan-13 22:11:53

tidiness and boxes. we like it tidy. we like to put stuff in boxes. that includes people.

kim147 Thu 31-Jan-13 22:16:14

So you know who to mix with and who to let your PFB's mix with grin

Personally, class is not important to me. It's attitudes towards things and your personal values.

CloudsAndTrees Thu 31-Jan-13 22:20:31

I don't think class is anywhere near as important to the majority of people on MN as it appears to be. It gets talked about on here a lot, but I very much doubt it enters into most MNers real life conversations.

People are just people, and while people at both of the extreme ends of the scale might be apparent, everyone else is just a person.

I'm so glad it's not just me! grin

apostropheuse Thu 31-Jan-13 22:40:15

See, I get more pissed off by inverse snobbery. I can laugh at snobbery (I suppose because I was lucky that my parents brought me up to look at everyone as equals, no matter what their background or financial status), but inverse snobbery really gets me

That's how I was brought up too Maryz It installed a strong sense of self-worth in me, and I hope a positive attitude towards people from all walks of life.

I was always told "You're no better than anyone else, but you're just as good as everyone else".

Foggles Thu 31-Jan-13 22:53:27

My extended family range from the piss-poor to millionaires (I am nearer the poor end grin).

There are good & bad characters throughout.

Personally, I don't give a flying fig about class but I hate pretentious people.

Sparklyboots Thu 31-Jan-13 23:20:09

I don't think the problem with class is so much about whether or not you are looking up or looking down on people personally. It's more about the fact that if you are working class (and most of us are, by the way, one of the biggest successes of the Thatcher govt was to persuade people who are working class that they are middle class - Kate Middleton is middle class for reference) you are less 'well-connected' (read able to use nepotism), you don't go to a public school which has a fast track to a Russel Group Uni, your voice doesn't mean people automatically think you are intelligent or that you're reliable, you probably have to work your way through your 'full time' degree to support yourself, your parents most likely won't be able to put a deposit down on a house for you, dominant culture doesn't reflect your values, your access to good quality legal representation is potentially bankrupting, you have to work longer and harder to get the same sort of jobs that middle class people can get through internships, if some disaster befalls your family it doesn't become a cause celebre, and a whole load of other stuff that I can't think of at this time of night after that kind of day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onions?! shock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

why do people care?

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

Why do you say you're working class Lou?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words I meant, not phrases!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

I care a lot about class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It stinks.

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

Is there an idiot's guide to class somewhere? It looks like I need it. confused I have friends from all sorts of backgrounds, with wildly varying incomes and education but I still don't get it.

MiniTheMinx Fri 01-Feb-13 20:24:55

The class system is the cause of the inequality. The class system only reflects the inequality.

MiniTheMinx Fri 01-Feb-13 20:25:28

* Class system is not the cause of inequality.

MiniTheMinx Fri 01-Feb-13 20:27:26

Joyful, Jilly cooper wrote a very amusing book years ago

www.goodreads.com/book/show/618334.Class?a=5&origin=related_works It's very funny, 20 years later I still remember snipe the black lab

mercibucket Fri 01-Feb-13 20:46:49

how many people own 1/3 of the land in the uk?


how many people own 2/3 of the land in the uk?

200 000

who are these people?

mostly the monarchy, aristocracy and gentry

how long have they owned the land for?

don't know but i'd guess up to a thousand years in skme cases. very few will be johnny come latelys

class not important? confused

mercibucket Fri 01-Feb-13 20:54:25

this looked interesting

CombineBananaFister Fri 01-Feb-13 21:04:00

I am with maryz- inverted class snobbery is becoming as much of a problem as actual class snobbery. Don't pretend to care, i'ts cool to be disaffected and not give a shit.
I also appreciate people think current politics alienate them because their 'too rich and have it too easy' maybe they do, but what's worse to me are the politicians who pretend to be there with you on the breadline while they are fucking you over on their greedy expenses forms - far more insulting. And really how long are we going to go on blaming Thatcher, it's embarassing.

countrykitten Fri 01-Feb-13 21:14:19

Really agree about the Thatcher thing - it really pisses me off.

GrendelsMum Fri 01-Feb-13 21:28:30

I agree with the people on this thread who have said that it is very, very important to be aware of class - in as far as the cultural capital and aspirations that our families shape in us play a major role not only in people's life choices but in their access to health, justice and education in this country.

GrendelsMum Fri 01-Feb-13 21:30:00

PuddleJumper - on the more fun side, if you want a fairly light-hearted but insightful guide to class through the medium of interior decor and fashion, you might want to watch the 3 Channel4 documentaries by Grayson Perry, still available on 4OD

afterdinnerkiss Fri 01-Feb-13 21:30:25

gothannegesses thanks for the reminder about the concept of Cultural Capital - i remember studying social class intensely in sociology (at my comp) whilst dreaming of (a now achieved) mobility.

social class pervades every aspect of our lives - the resources of the school you went to, the quality of teaching there, the Cultural Capital your parents pass on to you contribute to the university you go to and how well you get on there - social class also shapes who you marry and how your children speak and how well they do in their lives. miserable but true.

Ok, from the very interesting page that merci linked to (thanks for that btw):

Objective Measures of Social Class

If we accept for the time being that there are three social classes in the U.K. we must then decide how to determine the class position of any particular individual. Sociologists emphasise that social class is essentially an economic concept and allocate individuals to social classes on the basis of their wealth, income and occupation.. Broadly speaking, we can say that a person with a relatively low income, working in a manual occupation and with limited personal wealth is working class. People with higher incomes working in non-manual occupations and with considerable personal wealth could be described as middle class. People with very high incomes working in non-manual occupations and those with no occupation but who receive high incomes from their high level of invested wealth may be described as upper class.

There are also other factors which might be considered relevant to the determination of a person’s class position such as the following:

their education;
the social background of their parents;
their standard of living;
their ownership of consumer durables;
whether or not they own their own home;
the value of their home if they do own it;
their leisure pursuits their accent and dress;
their circle of friends and social connections;
their power and influence in society

This kind of information is certainly useful but, again broadly speaking, many of these factors are in any case closely connected with a person’s wealth, income and occupation. For example, people who are defined as upper or upper-middle class as a result of their wealth ,income and occupation are also likely to be well educated, to enjoy a high standard of living and expensive leisure pursuits and to mix with the kinds of people who can afford similar life styles, while consumer durables and homes are, in any case, part of individual’s personal wealth. Conversely, it is very unlikely that people in poorly paid manual work with limited personal wealth will enjoy high standards of living and expensive leisure pursuits. Therefore, in assessing people’s social class position, sociologists concentrate on income, wealth and occupation because the other factors which have been listed are in any case usually connected with income, wealth and occupation.

I think perhaps part of my confusion about all this stems from the fact that according to the definitions above I straddle class boundaries.

Arisbottle Fri 01-Feb-13 21:40:49

I think you are very lucky if you are not aware of class.

I care about the fact that people from my background tend to earn less, be less well educated, be less healthy, less likely to own property and therefore have secure housing and live shorter lives that most people who would identify themselves as middle class.

I agree that class is not a simple things anymore, it is not about money or even the paper you read but lots of social messages.

I care that when I managed to achieve my first good job, having overcome many obstacle thrown in my path, I was made to feel unwelcome because I was seen as thick and a bit rough . I care that a teacher once told me that kids from council estates don't go to university , never mind Oxford or Cambridge. I care that my son's grammar school is packed with children from " middle class" homes.

GrendelsMum Fri 01-Feb-13 21:46:37

I think if you're not aware of class, it may well be because your friends are very homogenous in cultural capital, although they're different in levels of education and income. Or of course, it might be that you've always put it down as 'that's just how X does things and it's different to how Y does things'. My mum is not only an anthropologist but non-British, so for her the class system is endlessly fascinating, and she finds it pretty easy to allocate anyone into a social grouping.

Ok, several people have mentioned 'cultural capital'. Can someone explain what that is please?

GrendelsMum I think I have always seen it as people just doing things differently. Obviously I'm aware that my friends have varying backgrounds but I've never thought of it in terms of class until now

Arisbottle Fri 01-Feb-13 21:58:04

I suspect that is another factor grendels, most of mine and DH's relatives have been in benefits for much of their lives. Most of my friends through work are teachers , friends from my former job and DH's job are mostly very high earners in the private sector.

We are quite aware that we don't really fit in with either group. My closest friends tend to be people like us, those from tough backgrounds who have cash to indulge our love of bling.

chandellina Fri 01-Feb-13 22:00:18

JuliaScurr, all the political parties have lots of well educated people. Chip on your shoulder?

BigAudioDynamite Fri 01-Feb-13 22:36:07

I think the reason people dont care about class in RL/ on a day to day basis...is because generally people spend time with people who are the same class, so you maybe dont think about it so much.

On the internet/mumsnet...people from all backgrounds come together.

My class is important to me. I feel defined by it. It determines a persons culture.

GrendelsMum Fri 01-Feb-13 22:46:56

Here's a nice summing up of the idea of 'cultural capital':

"Pierre Bourdieu pioneered the concept of cultural capital, which consists of familiarity with particular types of culture or activities, which can act as a powerful barrier to – or facilitator of – social mobility. Cultural capital is used to describe cultural goods, knowledge and experience which confer power or status in the social hierarchy. Here the relationship to social mobility is that cultural knowledge, goods and experiences can help to bridge access to social groups and ownership of it can bring power and social advantage. Cultural knowledge and familiarity may, thus, act as a ‘hidden’ barrier to social progress for those that do not possess it or for those that are associated with the ‘wrong’ forms of cultural capital."

There's also a concept of "social capital": "Social capital is usually used to refer to the network of relationships (in terms of both quantity and quality) that derive from a particular social position or group membership"

"Webster et al. (2004) found that few of the socially excluded young people studied had established social networks beyond their immediate circle, which restricted the wider support and opportunities available to them. ... On the other hand, high levels of bonding social capital among middle class communities, and within the ‘middle class’ as a whole, might underpin and help to explain the apparent ability of middle class parents to protect their less able children from downward social mobility, as identified by Saunders (1995:36-7; 2002:563-4), Lucas (2001) and others (see Section 6). For example, one study found that 56 per cent of children whose parents have a professional career wish to have a professional career, compared to 13 per cent of those whose parents are partly skilled (Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit 2003). There is a further theme of importance concerning social mobility and social capital. ... Perri 6 (1997) found that middle class people had much more diverse social networks than working class people, with extensive weak ties with, for instance, former colleagues and acquaintances, which can be helpful to middle-class children."

So you might sum 'social capital' up as the idea that it's much easier to get work experience in a TV company if your best friend's mum works there. 'Cultural capital' might be that the teenager who arrives at the TV company and dresses 'right' and talks about the 'right' films / books / music / news stories will be seen as more intelligent and better suited to the role.

Sorry, mega-post but I hope it helps!

It helps a lot, thank you!

This thread is really educational.smile

chandellina Fri 01-Feb-13 22:57:15

I do consider myself lucky to have had the opportunities I've had by virtue of being a nice middle class girl, and don't blame those with less opportunity for resenting it.

But my education and achievements have probably had even more to do with the expectations around me from family and peers that supported me on those paths.

Society should encourage everyone to achieve and aspire, and follow through with actual opportunity, whatever your background. (ie meritocracy)

chandellina Fri 01-Feb-13 23:00:06

Cultural and social capital thing is bang on, for example people are most likely to hire people just like themselves. I have definitely benefited from this bias.

Arisbottle Fri 01-Feb-13 23:00:46

But some people need a little more encouragement and support than others. My children need very little additional support, I am quite happy for them to be sidelined so others can have the spotlight.

It is why my son's grammar school annoys me so much , I clench my teeth whenever I enter it. Full of children who already have lots of advantages whilst those who lack the contacts, supportive parents etc are left to rot in some of the worst schools in the country.

LaFataTurchina Fri 01-Feb-13 23:01:31

YY Chandellina - I'm the same (ie, nice middle class girl, supportive family, wishes everyone could get the same encouragement to achieve that I did)

kim147 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:05:21

I normally work in a very deprived area of Leeds in a primary with children with lots of issues. It's a tough school and the children have little support from home. You can see the anger in them.

Yesterday, I did an afternoon in a village primary in North Yorkshire. Small class, lovely children (although some a bit full of themselves talking about their ponies) and excellent behaviour. You could see the support and encouragement they got.

So many different worlds living so close together.

GrendelsMum Fri 01-Feb-13 23:07:45

As for why people on Mumsnet are perceived to talk a lot about class, my mum might say that in a recession, as people are faced with the loss of status previously held through wealth and employment, they emphasise the ongoing status provided by their social and cultural capital. i.e. "I may be unemployed but we still walk to the library every week."

chandellina Fri 01-Feb-13 23:13:54

I think you need a huge amount of support if you come from a tough environment and/or your parents don't care what you do. The odds are stacked against achievement for so many people.

leaharrison11 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:20:06

If just seen a thread on uniforms and now this about class, most agreed on the other thread that uniforms are a great idea as it tends to make all equal , but when i was at school there was a huge class system and a very strict uniform, telling poor and rich children apart was very difficult but yet class was very obvious , so obviously not a income system , but then what was the class based on...... Always puddled me more so that i im from a lower class family but yet was very popular in school.... Baffles me

BigAudioDynamite Fri 01-Feb-13 23:23:11

i agree with what you are saying chandelina

Im WC background. My dad went to university as a mature student and has supported my and dsis to get a higher education. he equipped us with what we would need to 'get on'

I switch it on for work. I fake it. Not because I resent being WC or want to be MC. It makes me really angry that there is this bias, it massively discriminates

Arisbottle Fri 01-Feb-13 23:30:33

I switch from playing middle class, and to an extent I have needed to in order to get on and playing up my roots because I am pissed off that there is a need to fit in. I also think that my students need to realise that you can come from a wc background and succeed.

anonymosity Fri 01-Feb-13 23:34:17

Class is an issue in Britain and it always will be - and the same for other countries - its just another way of marking differences and making assumptions (often WRONG) about individuals by grouping them together with a perceived "set" of people. Classification, hence the word "class".

You could be a very liberal minded artistocrat who prefers to work in a soup kitchen and doesn't have a degree. Are you then posh? "upper class" or a "chav" - I don't need an answer to that, just rhetorical.

Pendeen Fri 01-Feb-13 23:38:17

Class and newspapers?

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

An old extract but still valid...

Hacker: Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers:

* The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
* The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
* The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country;
* The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;
* The Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
* The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country;
* And The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?

Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.

Arisbottle Fri 01-Feb-13 23:40:23

I suspect with the rise of the Internet and tablets that lots of people read most of the papers. I read the Telegraph, Guardian, Indepedent and the Mail. Would the Times if it were not for the Paywall.

anonymosity Fri 01-Feb-13 23:41:36

Yeh, but didn't you get to the punchline about Sun readers?

ClippedPhoenix Fri 01-Feb-13 23:43:14

It's the way it is over many generations. I live in a very affluent area. No one talks to me because i have a london accent. Im below par really. It's not me it's them and that's true. Everyone has to go one better and get into another "above" set. Strive and strive again.

Arisbottle Fri 01-Feb-13 23:43:15

No I did, I grew up reading the sun as it was the only paper in the house ! grin

ClippedPhoenix Fri 01-Feb-13 23:46:03

I could clean for them or look after their children, I couldn't however go for a meal and a few glasses of wine with them, oh no! I'm too common. Im not being bitter, I'm just saying it as it really is.

KatyTheCleaningLady Fri 01-Feb-13 23:58:37

I'll admit it: I can spot "posh" people instantly. I don't even always have to hear them speak. There's just something about their hair, posture, and complexions.

I was once driving through Inveraray on a Sunday morning and I saw a man about 25 meters away, with his back to me, and I instantly knew it was the Duke of Argyll. I know that sounds crazy, but I really did. I'd never met him, and his back was to me, but I just looked at the nape of his neck and the way his suit fit his shoulders and said "I'll bet that's the Duke." I then went around the corner and encountered him again, this time walking towards me, and I recognized his face from photos I'd seen of him.

When I first moved to this country, I lived in a typical small English city. I had to go to a nearby historic spa town for an appointment and I was struck by the difference in the people. All the women had natural-looking glossy hair, fresh complexions, neutral-coloured clothes and seemed sort of willowy. The women in our neighbourhood tended to obviously "do things" to their hair, wore a lot of makeup, and tended to wear tight, shiny clothes.

I'm from lower-middle/working class origins and I've always been sort of fascinated by posh people both here and in America. I think class distinctions are real and I don't really mind them.

I have a university degree, but scrub toilets for a living. I think I'm working class and my degree (history of art) was just some fun hobby thing I did. I like people who went to top universities like Harvard and Oxford because I went to one, too. And, I prefer to be around people who like to read and travel, like me. Most academics seem to like me just fine, but I don't have anything to say to non-academic middle class people. I've noticed that many of them can't figure me out, at first, because I'm foreign and I don't fit any pigeon holes. Once they find out I am a cleaner, they tend to dismiss me. Academics never do that, even if they're from an upper class.

ClippedPhoenix Sat 02-Feb-13 00:03:53

So you are still kept in your place then katy. What you have just written makes me want to cry to be honest because you still see yourself really as an underclass because there is one. It's becoming wider now unfortunately.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sat 02-Feb-13 00:10:05

How am I being kept in my place? I'm the one who chose to study something impractical at uni and I'm the one who enjoys cleaning toilets.

As long as I have access to interesting people who read and think and travel, I'm happy. I had a rough patch of living in a rural Highland village where it seemed like the only things people cared about were family and gossip. I got sick of not meeting people who shared my interests and I guess I was a huge snob. Now that I'm in an urban area of England, I can meet interesting people, again.

HelpOneAnother Sat 02-Feb-13 00:11:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kim147 Sat 02-Feb-13 00:15:19

"I got sick of not meeting people who shared my interests"

That's really important - people who share interests and values. I have what you would call a middle class background but things kind of went wrong on life's little journey and I've ended up living in a very working class area - the most deprived part of the city. Not something I'd imagined happening.

I don't judge people by their class. But I want to be with people who share my values.

<which includes not throwing your crap out on the pavement and swearing and shouting on the street>

KatyTheCleaningLady Sat 02-Feb-13 00:15:21

It's a really funny thing to see when people mentally go "She's a cleaner... oh! CLICK!" and then sort of go blank on me. Prior to that they weren't sure what I was. Couldn't place my accent, I don't dress either chavvy or classy, and I speak like someone is clearly well-educated. But, when they find out that I clean houses for a living, sometimes they just change right in front of my eyes as their eyes glaze over and they sort of look away.

I think it's funny. Honestly, by that time, I've probably already written them off as "the chick-lit sort of reader" or something horrendously snotty like that.

ClippedPhoenix Sat 02-Feb-13 00:19:32

boho katy doesn't actually do the majority thing though huh...

Well done katy for being such an individual.

LaFataTurchina Sat 02-Feb-13 00:21:02

I think it goes both ways though re: people not wanting to be 'friends' with anyone too different - In several work places I've had people subtly make fun of my 'posh' accent, or imply I must be a bit hopeless and airy fairy at anything practical just because I'm good at the academic side of things.

HelpOneAnother Sat 02-Feb-13 00:23:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sat 02-Feb-13 00:24:35

Kim, I had a similar experience living in a rough council estate near Glasgow. I got sick of everyone looking at me like I was an alien and I was frequently appalled by the behaviour I saw. Shit like entire families - including small children - brawling in the street with spades and golf clubs. And the blatant littering was unbelievable.

I think my snobby worst was at my youngest son's baptism. There was another baby being baptised at the same time and her family was.... well... wow. I have never seen women dress like that for church, before. They literally dressed as if they were going to a nightclub and they didn't want to have to pay for any of their own drinks. One woman had a skirt so short that the "support" part of her tights was a good inch below the hem.

Our experience there was a very bad one, and ended in violence, and I'm afraid that I'm bitter and shitty about that class of people ever since. I probably shouldn't talk about it much here on MN, because I'll upset people.

HelpOneAnother Sat 02-Feb-13 00:24:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sat 02-Feb-13 00:26:11

ClippedPhoenix, I am not boho at all. I am not a particularly individualistic person. I am just a snob, is all.

AmberSocks Sat 02-Feb-13 00:28:22

class confuses me.

I am from a very old school working class background in an industrial town in the midlands.I went to work as a nanny in so,e really nice places when i was 18 and to me,they were middle class.Big lovely houses in the countryside,kids with funny names,holidays to villas in Italy,iykwim.

My dhs family are always talking about class and from what i can tell they see themselves as middle class,which may be true but my idea of middle class is not what they are.they are all teachers but dont live anywhere particularly nice,and all wear clothes from tesco(which apparently middle class people do because they are above such trivial things as shopping and care more about buying a house according to them)they also seem very "safe" they really tried to discourage dh from starting his company because they all have safe jobs with pensions etc,and anything like that is frowned upon,its school,uni,then nice safe job,then die. :-)

So i am guessing that there are different kinds of different classes?

AmberSocks Sat 02-Feb-13 00:30:37

also even though i have a wc background,my husband is middle class,we live in an affluent area,my kids are home educated,although im not sure where that leaves us!dh earns a lot as he owns a large company.confused!

So i guess my kids are upper middle class?I dont actually care but this thread has got me wondering.

manicbmc Sat 02-Feb-13 00:33:11

I am classless. I don't do enough work to be working class. grin

Do you know what, I really don't think it matters to me. I can get on with anyone, no matter what their perceived class is, or what mine is.

usualsuspect Sat 02-Feb-13 00:37:52

It just makes me laugh that MC posters like to announce their middle classness on MN.

Other than that I don't give a toss.

HelpOneAnother Sat 02-Feb-13 00:38:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lazybastard Sat 02-Feb-13 00:40:58

I think currently I would probably be considered underclass, I aspire to become working class.

manicbmc Sat 02-Feb-13 00:41:13

I lived in halls of residence when I was a student and the people I lived with told me I must be middle class because my dad was in the forces. I pointed out he was a sergeant who had worked his way up (30 years service) and that would pretty much make me working class really. They wouldn't have it and were so hung up on the class thing.

These days it's really not something I'm bothered about though.

kim147 Sat 02-Feb-13 00:42:29

"Do you know what, I really don't think it matters to me. I can get on with anyone, no matter what their perceived class is, or what mine is. "

I can get on with most people - if they're not selfish gits like previous neighbours who thought nothing of shouting, banging doors, having late night parties outside and generally making life hell.

If you don't do that and you think how your actions might affect others. you go a long way in my book.

ClippedPhoenix Sat 02-Feb-13 00:43:18

The class system is alive and well and thriving.

Anyone that says it isn't is either deluded or doesn't care due to living in their own environment which is fine.

Im not saying this because I'm particularly bothered, im saying it as a fact.

HelpOneAnother Sat 02-Feb-13 00:43:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

manicbmc Sat 02-Feb-13 00:46:05

In real terms, Posh and Becks would be classed as working class. grin

I have selfish dog owning neighbours, who think their dog should be able to rampage through my garden (their fence is not adequate) I class them as twat class.

HelpOneAnother Sat 02-Feb-13 00:47:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

usualsuspect Sat 02-Feb-13 00:47:22

It is a fact, the class system is alive and kicking.

You only have to read MN to know that.

HelpOneAnother Sat 02-Feb-13 00:48:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

manicbmc Sat 02-Feb-13 00:49:53

True enough.

The ex's granddad was a sergeant major who then joined the commandos and then SAS. He may have become president had he gone to the US like his sister. grin

GothAnneGeddes Sat 02-Feb-13 00:53:40

Help - so true. I can't believe that people who joined the Army from the bottom will never be able to lead it. Now they want to police to be the same way.

HelpOneAnother Sat 02-Feb-13 00:56:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sat 02-Feb-13 01:10:42

In the US, "middle class" means only that you have a non-menial job and a college (uni) degree. School teachers are middle class. What people over here call "middle class" we would call "upper middle class."

manicbmc Sat 02-Feb-13 01:14:11

That's true, HOA. And I think they are, misguidedly, trying to level the playing field. But it's just daft. They need to put the people into the right positions due to some level of expertise rather than class. They need to get shot of Milliband too - he's an ineffectual idiot and so is his brother.

anonymosity Sat 02-Feb-13 01:49:00

Katy- the US aspires to be seen as mostly "middle class" - its a50s construct. But the culture is largely based on wealth / poverty divides across most states and on the East coast you're differentiated by heritage. So you have recent immigrants versus last century (I mean 1900s) immigrants and then you have those who claim to be descendants from the Mayflower settlers. East coast royalty, monied or not.

Mimishimi Sat 02-Feb-13 03:43:01

It can work the other way as well though. When people hear me speak, they think I must be posh and well-off. When they find out that I am quite ordinary, have not had a particularly top-notch education etc, they get confused and sometimes hold me in derision - as though I am putting it on as an act . Which I'm not of course, just speaking the way my mother speaks. I don't think it's an especially plummy drawl which is the strange thing The truth is that what with estate taxes and the wars, a lot of people lost everything in the last hundred years ( or really constantly) and money alone doesn't really count for anything. Some of the most dreadfully snobby and aristocratic types are, in reality, living off porridge. Knew quite a few of those growing up. I only get concerned about it when it's taken advantage of to hurt other people - I don't think there is anything wrong with having a concept of a 'better class' of person based on their character and accomplishments.

MidnightMasquerader Sat 02-Feb-13 04:27:44

To me, upper middle class - in the UK at least - is one step down from the aristocracy / landed gentry.

So humongous old piles with acres of lawn/land (in the country) / extensive gardens and a tennis court (in nice parts of town), inherited furniture, kids at Eton and Harrow. Parents are politicians, diplomats, senior civil servants, company directors, etc.

I.e. not most people.

There are definitely loads of different middle class 'tribes'; all ostensibly middle class, but with very different values. The Boden types, the eco warriors, the academics, the 'edgy' creatives/musos, the old school arts (ballet, opera, orchestral) types, the straight-laceds, etc, etc...

Thingymajigs Sat 02-Feb-13 06:20:18

I never feel like I fit in anywhere. Aspects like my lack of work and area/type of home indicate that I'm underclass. Yet DP's job title would indicate lower middle class. Our accents have always been far too posh compared to everyone else's in this street and town quite often. I just don't fit.
I try to remember that class is an imagined construct and should play no part in real life interactions as we are all individuals.

BigAudioDynamite Sat 02-Feb-13 06:49:17

mimi it doesn't really 'work the other way as well'

People may well have preconceptions/misconceptions/prejudices in the other direction. But the vast majority of higherlevel/decision makers are MC and UC so it has little effect. Distribution of power an all.

BigAudioDynamite Sat 02-Feb-13 07:23:45

There nearly was help...Alan whatsisface, but he didn't stand for PM in the end I think? Is he retired now?

BigAudioDynamite Sat 02-Feb-13 08:05:10

Alan Johnson

FergusSingsTheBlues Sat 02-Feb-13 08:08:28

Im totally upper mids going by all the markers.
I smoke, swear and have no social skills whatsoever. I have no class, and dont care. I watch loads of telly and eat processed shit. You wouldnt catch me dead in Boden or hanging outside a kumon class. I just dont care and dont understand why MN does.

MidnightMasquerader Sat 02-Feb-13 08:18:27

MN doesn't though. Some people who post on MN do. Some. Not all.

It was never decreed that we should necessarily understand why people do things, beyond it being their individual personal preference.

mercibucket Sat 02-Feb-13 09:36:54


someone thinks sam cam is just upper middle class

nope, the aristocracy are alive and kicking in politics. i know the talk about themselves as the sharp elbowed middle classes, but they mean the sharp elbowed aristocracy


chandellina Sat 02-Feb-13 10:40:51

I prefer to think of it solely in terms of income and education. For example a large middle class is emerging in places like India and China as economic gains lead to people having more disposable income.

The social class debate is much more subjective, and always gets a bit ugly.

mrsjay Sat 02-Feb-13 10:42:48

not a clue it really baffles me and apparently if you dispute the MC thing you are an inverted snob confused

ThingummyBob Sat 02-Feb-13 12:44:31

Sam Cam is most definitely upper class confused

Her father owns huge swathes of the north . . .

andubelievedthat Sat 02-Feb-13 12:55:17

i do not care about it re myself, perhaps cos i know i am working/underclass as if it ever mattered, thou , in my previous life(before illness) when i worked, my work would sometimes involve interaction with zillionaires, and the "real,proper" landed gentry, the "old money" peeps were delightful to be about , they would be unfailingly understated, considerate about all/everything ,dressed like they were the gardener, and seemed very concerned/interested re the the thoughts/opinions of just about everyone regardless of their social standing , in short ,they were lovely ,a proper hoot! other "new rich/money " people could be beyond tosserdome!

InNeedOfBrandy Sat 02-Feb-13 16:32:09

David Cameron is most definatly upper class to, he is descended from kings. Middle upper class is Kate and pippa and their family. Thatcher on the other hand is middle class.

But middle class people notice class the most and are the most snobbish which actually shows a lack of class if you can work that out.

countrykitten Sat 02-Feb-13 18:14:17

I agree - they want to put distance between themselves and the working class and are desperately envious of the upper class! This leads to a great deal of not very classy behaviour....

BloodyReallyMadmMolar Sat 02-Feb-13 18:15:35

Too think that class is from the top down looked up to a butch of German inbreeds tells you all you need to know about class,personally class is a form of retarded mentally lying in the undercurrent of our country,we are all the same,we have all the same potential.

Sparrowp Sat 02-Feb-13 20:00:16

Oh class is vair vair important, especially (only) to the conservative party.

They are not very good at government, but they simply must, because that is their class, you see.

Sparrowp Sat 02-Feb-13 20:02:31

But anyway, let's talk more about the monarchy, ja yah!

The thing is tho, those who do care about class make it an issue even for those who don't!

I was bullied for being 'posh' through 5 schools and 2 colleges. I don't fit into any one class, but had a 'posh' accent since beaten out of me so many assumptions were made about my supposed background, my/parental income, the apparent pony my Daddy must have given me confused, and all sorts of other jibes.
The ones making the assumptions always made a big deal about how working class they were. Chips on shoulders the size of boulders.

It grows extremely tedious after a few years. So yes, to a degree I cared about class, as so many people made it an issue for me.
Fortunately I have entirely got over it now and don't give a shit about what other people think! grin

Skittish Sat 02-Feb-13 20:17:14

The Middletons upper middle? Don't be daft! She was an air hostess!

They are aspirational mobile LOWER middle if ever anyone was!

I come from plenty of money and ponies lower middle and DH is poor as a church mouse decayed upper middle.

We are now firmly upper middle.

trice Sat 02-Feb-13 21:22:43

My new theory about house buying shows: When the couple ask for a building with 'more character' they are actually asking for a house which reflects a higher class or 'displays greater cultural capital'. This can be demonstrated by some fancy architect barn conversion or by 'original' fireplaces.

My mum won't have lobelias in the front garden for class reasons. We are very clever apes indeed and have developed amazing ways to display status.

KatyTheCleaningLady Sat 02-Feb-13 21:24:57

I think people are generally snobbiest about the class directly below their own. That's who they feel threatened by.

germyrabbit Sat 02-Feb-13 21:27:23

class is only important to the middle classes and my god in my opinion they are the most borish, lacking in any sort of individual though and bland society we have in the UK. They monopolise the schooling system to self serve their own children, stuff all others, especially the washes self working class.

bring in all the immigrants we can. i would prefer them to our clenched arsed middle classes wink

aquashiv Sat 02-Feb-13 21:31:45

I am always annoyed at the Class system in trains especially the one I end up on. You pay a fortune for a train ticket in the hope you might sit on a seat for your journey. Oh No you have to squeeze into a packed carriage and stand squashed against a stranger wlooking through the window at first class usually with two peanut quaffing types with a carriage full of empty seats.


Arisbottle Sat 02-Feb-13 21:34:59

I disagree, class mattered to me growing up because I was painfully aware that no matter how clever I was, the fact that I lived on a council estate, went to shit schools and came from a rough family would count against me. It mattered to me when I saw people sniggering at my dress sense and inability to select the right knife and fork.

I can now see that my own children will find life so much easier than I ever did - which is not necessarily an easy thing.

It matters to the children I teach who desperately want to stay on at school but are made to leave at the earliest possibility. It matters to those children who want to get into the grammar school but for reasons of money, geography and lack of parental ambition will never get in. It matters to my sixth formers who are bright enough to go to top universities but lack the confidence and think they are not meant for people like them.

scarlettsmummy2 Sat 02-Feb-13 21:39:52

Carol Middleton will never be upper middle class- sorry if that offends, but she won't. She is rich but so are David Beckham and Alan Sugar and no one would say they are middle class.

scarlettsmummy2 Sat 02-Feb-13 21:47:00

Nick Clegg also has an aristocratic background.

Curiosa Sat 02-Feb-13 22:05:11

Speech is one of the biggest indicators of class (not accent) and it is interesting that in state primary schools many children are now being taught by teachers who speak in a way that used to be considered working class eg " I done it yesterday"

anonymosity Sat 02-Feb-13 23:16:28

that's not working class speech, Curiosa that's just bad grammar.

countrykitten Sun 03-Feb-13 00:35:42

BRMM - there are a few very old families in Britain who look down on the Royals so don't assume that the Windsors are at the top of the class tree!

socharlotte Sun 03-Feb-13 00:38:57


scarlettsmummy2 Sun 03-Feb-13 07:40:34

Agree with curiosa- speech is a bit of a give away when it comes to class!

LouMae Sun 03-Feb-13 08:21:16

Accent is the indicator, not incorrect speech. Regional accents usually mean someone is working class, posh/rp/neutral generally indicates a middle class background.

kim147 Sun 03-Feb-13 08:24:43

Not really - I definitely say things with a short vowel - such as "bath". It's not broad Yorkshire - but I do have friends with broad Yorkshire who I would describe as middle class.

LouMae Sun 03-Feb-13 08:33:35

Of course it is a massive indicator of class, particularly of background. I have never in my life come across a mc person with a strong regional accent, they aren't raised that way.

Another minor indicator, in the north, 's whether you cal your evening meal tea or dinner.

SnowBusiness Sun 03-Feb-13 08:51:03

Amongst mc friends, there may be regional hints in their accent but they're certainly not broad.

Titchyboomboom Sun 03-Feb-13 09:16:40

Class is a massive issue in my family with me in the middle... My family, very down yo earth... In laws very posh... Hate it as comments about my common lot hurt hmm

FergusSingsTheBlues Sun 03-Feb-13 10:41:31

I think the importance of various class markers changes with each generation depending on the other conteporaneous issues and economic conditions. Its only a social construct after all....its not absolute measure of anything.
Sadly, in a generation's time, UpperMC will probably de defined by access to tertiary eduation, as it was in the fifties. At the moment it probably means you own a house rather than renting, like in generations past. We are all going backwards.

HelpOneAnother Sun 03-Feb-13 11:36:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

andubelievedthat Mon 04-Feb-13 02:12:31

What ? "Doors to manual" Middleton and her little tribe are upper middle class? not on my very no class nelly !

socharlotte Mon 04-Feb-13 08:20:54

Personally, class is not important to me. It's attitudes towards things and your personal values

but those things are exactly what defines class in my book

socharlotte Mon 04-Feb-13 08:22:17

the only people who care about class are those on the very bottome rung of MC IMO

mercibucket Mon 04-Feb-13 08:36:24

oops, helponeanother, didn't mean to offend. many people have no idea of the aristocratic background of many of our political elite, is that
A because class doesn't matter
B because class matters very much

i would say class matters personally to those trying to get good jobs and being blocked by their backgrounds, but itmatters to us all as we get inferior people at the top layers of society as we are choosing from a small pool of people. similar effect seen in olympic sport but politics , the economy and business affect us more.

BigAudioDynamite Mon 04-Feb-13 08:38:36

That is rot charlotte its important to a lot of WC people. People are proud

MidnightMasquerader Mon 04-Feb-13 08:56:46

A lot of aristocratic people care very deeply about class too - very deeply. It's a popular misconception that they don't.

Look at how rigidly they socialise - and especially marry - within their class. WC, LMC, MMC AND UMC are far more fluid when it comes to this. Besides, it's virtually impossible to rise up into the aristocracy - you're pretty much either in or out. The Middletons are the exception that proves the rule. Again, social mobility is much more fluid in the other classes.

And the final clincher? Nancy Mitford's Noblesse Oblige... A veritable bible of you're-in-or-you're-out class indicators written by an aristocrat, that's as relevant (for them) today as it ever was.

It's tosh that it's only the LMC who care. There are individuals in every social layer who care a great deal, just as there are individuals in every layer who couldn't give two hoots.

blondecat Mon 04-Feb-13 09:03:10

I am classless in the UK as I only moved there as a teenager. Back home however it's a can of worms.

My father's family were noble. My mother's were not - her father was a son of well of farmer who was the first ever to get an education and become a teacher.

Her family thought my father's lot were rascals. Some of his acquaintances would be ghastly to my mother behind his back and sweet as honey to him.

There were people who wouldn't invite me to certain parties and would never marry me as my mother was not one of 'them'. Charming.

In the UK I knew children of landed gentry and bank chairmen affect faux London accents and move to edgy parts of town. And I knew children from working class backgrounds who after going up to Oxford, did all they could to join a certain 'set' that fit their image of upper class. Ascot, glydenbourne, pearls, balls, shooting, 'yaah'ing - even when it drove them into debt. And gin. It is sad.

I found after a few years I would fit nowhere so resigned to bring wary not quite Eurotrash looking in. In the end there was no nice English boy fir me and i am Very happy with DH and his nice non-fussed BcBg family. wink

socharlotte Mon 04-Feb-13 09:31:24

Yes bigAudioDynamite I stand corrected .Lots of people are proud of being WC

HelpOneAnother Mon 04-Feb-13 10:13:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kimorama Mon 04-Feb-13 11:35:25

No one seriously thinks Kate Middleton is middle class now. I suppose money has always talked in every society that ever existed. Do you like the language it uses? Some think we are too unequal to be a comfortabvle society. One class seems to tolerate other classes. Without necessarily wanting to mix with them. Foreign visitors seem to notice our class divide more than we do. Its complex.

scarlettsmummy2 Mon 04-Feb-13 13:48:10

I don't think the middletons will ever be upper class- they are new money no matter how much you dress it up, and that includes Kate.

recall Mon 04-Feb-13 14:13:49

Joyfulpuddlejumper I personally care a great deal about class because other people discriminate against me because of their perception of my class. They don't look or listen beyond my regional accent, and they judge my intelligence by it.
It really really gets on my fucking tits because no matter how hard I try in life, I will never be able to find a way around this and it is unfair. It is easy to be dismissive of class differences if you are not affected by them financially and socially.

My Mum is working class, and has a broad (gorgeous) Yorkshire accent. When she was young, she went to work in Canada as a radiographer and said it was fantastic to be judged on her ability and experience rather than the way she spoke, the Canadians just heard her speaking English, and listened to the content.

poppywillows Mon 04-Feb-13 14:37:57

This reminds me of a comment made to me once. I was picking my ds up from school and a mum asked how my husband was. I replied im not married to which she said 'oh, what a middle class assumption for me to make'. I still dont know what she meant!

poppywillows Mon 04-Feb-13 14:39:38

This reminds me of a comment made to me once. I was picking my ds up from school and a mum asked how my husband was. I replied im not married to which she said 'oh, what a middle class assumption for me to make'. I still dont know what she meant!

FergusSingsTheBlues Mon 04-Feb-13 16:21:12

KM didnt leap up a notch on the classometer the minute the ring went on! Shes UMC sbd always will be. Her kids will obvs be UC though.

KatyTheCleaningLady Mon 04-Feb-13 16:38:56

The Middletons, as a family, will always just be MC. Pippa will probably be UMC unless she marries an aristocrat. But, yes, Kate is now upper class. Her origins no longer matter. She's royalty and she will eventually be Queen, second only in rank to her husband. Aristocrats from the very oldest families will literally have to bow to her.

It wouldn't matter if she'd grown up on a sink estate and spoke like Vicky Pollard. Women, by virtue of nothing more than marriage, can step up in class via marriage. Kate Middleton has done this.

shashep Mon 04-Feb-13 16:52:50

Class is just gravy. The lowers use Bisto, the middles make their own, the uppers have cook do it.

FergusSingsTheBlues Mon 04-Feb-13 16:56:17

My sister had a private education, a phd and all the other UMC trappings, but married a brickie. Has she stepped down then? id say not. Has he moved up? I think not tbh.

If you really can marry up or down but cannot work your way up or down, then it shows what a meaningless concept class is. KM is no different to me (tosses head).

KatyTheCleaningLady Mon 04-Feb-13 17:32:33

Men cannot move up via marriage. It only applies to women. Don't know why, but that's the way it is. Probably because traditionally women are expected to assume the husband's identity. After all, she takes his name.

Did you sister move down? Perhaps, yes. That is, some people may think so.

What matters is if you give a shit what people think. It's one thing to try and deny that class exists and another to just not give a shit!

mummytime Mon 04-Feb-13 17:33:24

Katy - plenty of Aristocrates look down on the royal family.

KatyTheCleaningLady Mon 04-Feb-13 17:35:31

So do plenty of plebes. Doesn't make them higher in class than the royal family.

FergusSingsTheBlues Mon 04-Feb-13 18:09:57

No, but since they hooked up, my god, she mentions the word "middle class" constantly, im not even sure if she is aware of it....she even informed me that her neighbours children have "nice middle class" names....but then, like somebody mentioned upthread, it only matters when you are not threatened or looked down upon.

GothAnneGeddes Mon 04-Feb-13 18:36:20

Mummytime - I've heard this before on M N, someone even said the aristos she knew thought the Royals were a bit common mind boggles.

FlouncingMintyy Mon 04-Feb-13 18:38:26

I don't care about class in the slightest.

scarlettsmummy2 Mon 04-Feb-13 18:41:24

To be fair I don't think Harry shows leadership material- I can see why he would be seen as a bit common to old school aristocrats!

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Feb-13 18:48:44

I don't think it exists anymore does it?
I think most people want the same things in life now and all feel entitled to the same chances as each other.
This didn't used to be the case, remember the class sketch. " I look up to him because I am working class and he is middle class" etc. Yes it was comedy, but its how the class system was. People can't be defined in a particular class any more.

complexnumber Mon 04-Feb-13 19:04:39

Like it or not, you have been placed in a box (calling it 'class' somehow annoys people)

Marketing companies have long realised that an adult's buying habits are very closely linked to their education and/or occupation.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Feb-13 19:08:23

I would certainly like to know what class I am then, as I seem to fit into none really.
I am certainly not aristocratic, nor upper middle class,

so maybe middle class, or working class, or under class. I really don't care, lol.

I'm the same morethan, I don't feel I fit into any box. According to some posts here I'm WC, according to others I'm MC - I have no idea tbh.

I feel sorry for any marketing company trying to work out my education by looking at my purchasing habits, or vice versa! grin

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Feb-13 20:46:18

Ha Ha Joyful

I don't think class, if it still exists can be determined by occupation and/ or education, certainly not in isolation.
There are people with little or no education who have done well financially, so what does that tell a Marketeer. There are many who don't work, this also says nothing much. I was wondering why I got so many inapplicable sales brochures, lol.

Skittish Mon 04-Feb-13 21:15:36

Heck no, class exists just as clearly as it ever did . The difference today is that it is not based on wealth and friendships and relationships between the classes exist.

I can tell someone's class a mile off. Doesn't make a blind bit of difference though, but it's still there.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Feb-13 21:29:59

So Skittish
How would you define the classes then, because I really do not see where I fit in and I'm sure I'm not alone.
If it isn't wealth and I certainly don't think its occupation or education, what does define a persons class? I am totally confused

scarlettsmummy2 Mon 04-Feb-13 22:04:53

I don't think there is a clear definition- you just know. I think it's just a combination of different things.

SnowBusiness Tue 05-Feb-13 08:56:22

I know who I feel socially inferior and superior too, as I speak to them. There are loads of clues: vocabulary, accent and appearance being the main ones initially. It feels innate.

SnowBusiness Tue 05-Feb-13 09:07:13

Damn! Or even 'whom I feel inferior to smile

Maryz Tue 05-Feb-13 09:20:57

But why on earth would you feel superior or inferior to anyone SnowBusiness? I genuinely don't understand confused.

I still don't understand either Maryz and this thread isn't helping me work it out! Maybe I'm outside the class system as I don't seem to fit into any of the definitions offered so far. grin

Maryz Tue 05-Feb-13 09:27:23

It's crazy isn't it?

I mean, I can understanding people putting us into "boxes" depending on our spending power (for marketing reasons) or for our educational level (again for marketing, or for evaluating children's success at school etc). But if that was the case, I'd be in two different categories - degree educated, not working and stony broke grin.

But to feel as though you are better than someone, or (what is even sadder) worse than someone because of your parents' occupation, your income, your education or your "class" is truly baffling. And very sad, imo.

What chance do our children have if we feel we are either better than or worse than someone, purely because of how they talk, where they were brought up, what type of house they live in etc. It's just crazy.

mercibucket Tue 05-Feb-13 09:39:26

I would think that feelings of social inferiority are on the wane. A hundred years ago, it was a lot more common, but then 100 years ago, women still didn't have the vote, so we just were not an equal society. Even 50 years ago, there was a recognisable feature of voting patters, the 'deference' vote - working class tory voters. Now, many working class tory voters would be aspirational not deferential. My grandparents would be typical examples of deference voters, my auntie an aspirational voter. Very different reasons for voting against their natural interests.

I suspect it is this concept of us all being equal that has led to many people thinking class is no longer an issue. We don't feel inferior to richer, more powerful people, and therefore don't notice that money and power are becoming more, not less, concentrated in the hands of a small elite

That elite, also controlling the media and politics, takes care not to draw our attention to this.

lazybastard Tue 05-Feb-13 10:20:07

I think you're more aware of class if you are at either end of the scale.

For example I'm underclass and daily people enjoy reminding me of this. I'm made to feel guilty for existing, food, heat and shelter are begrudged to me, offensive assumptions are made about my morals. The amount of times it happens there must be people who gain immense pleasure from lording it over me and reminding me of their superiority.

SnowBusiness Tue 05-Feb-13 10:52:19

Don't feel sad. I don't at all. I feel like there are many clubs and you can't belong to all of them. That's why lists such as U an Non U words exist, as a way of people knowing which side of the fence they belong though that example is such calculated snobbery, it is hugely entertaining .

FWIW, my family (over maternal and paternal) cover all sections from aristocracy (GGGM was disowned due to a scandale, would have liked to have met her) to very working class, and I think that is something most people have in common these days, what with education and moving for work etc etc. It's mixing it up.

Also, I'm only human. Don't we often size up others and feel ourselves sized up back?

TheFallenNinja Tue 05-Feb-13 10:53:59

Because it is directly linked to perceived wealth and material things, which it is not.

I'm as poor as the church mouse but I have class

LabelsGalore Tue 05-Feb-13 10:59:40

For everything about class that the book you want.

LessMissAbs Tue 05-Feb-13 11:12:33

Class is only important when you are forced to spend time with someone who doesn't have enough!

mercibucket Tue 05-Feb-13 11:42:58

good point, lazybastard, even the horrible term underclass is a way of putting people down. we are all equal except for that scapegoat the undeserving poor

chavs: the demonisation of the working class

has a very good analysis of this process and the way it is used by the elites to demonise the poor

prime example : the younger members of the royal family having parties themed along chav lines. essentially - come dressed as a poor person. one step up from dressing up as nazis i suppose

doyouwantfrieswiththat Tue 05-Feb-13 11:49:12
morethanpotatoprints Tue 05-Feb-13 12:12:10


smile Ditto. Somebody once told me I am middle class because of this. I'm not sure though because I can mix with people from all walks of life whereas most mc people I know prefer to stick to their own type or above.

Wickedgirl Tue 05-Feb-13 12:48:30

Can "new money" ever really be mc or uc?

I know a very wealthy family that are new money and spend a fortune on "things" so that others will know they are wealthy. Surely that's just "cheap" though and not classy at all?

kimorama Tue 05-Feb-13 12:59:00

in a village we lived in someone said "we cant all have daughters wth horn rimmed spectacles" not much cache in that now so class does have a funny side

Arisbottle Tue 05-Feb-13 18:31:38

What does " I have class" mean . Does someone like me have no class? Do only middle class people have class?

scarlettsmummy2 Tue 05-Feb-13 18:41:03

Traditionally middle classes were frugal and didn't spend all their money on things to show their wealth.

Arisbottle Tue 05-Feb-13 18:45:07

We spend quite a lot of money on stuff, not to show off but because we grew up with very little and still get excited about being able to buy stuff . There seems to be an assumption that if you are a bit common , you spend just to show off and not because you can appreciate good things.

scarlettsmummy2 Tue 05-Feb-13 18:46:44

I think it's because the traditionally well off have nothing to prove.

Skittish Tue 05-Feb-13 20:21:00

Agreed Scarlett. I drive an old car and kids are dressed in hand me downs.

I don't give a shit what people think and I have nothing to show/prove.

BigAudioDynamite Tue 05-Feb-13 20:26:26

I don't know anyone who feels inferior to someone else based on class confused

I think people either feels superior OR mostly equal but different

I think WC usually feel that MC people view them as inferior (usually a correct assumption). Some care, some don't five a shit

I find it odd that people don't define their class. It's a big part of my identity. It's culture

FergusSingsTheBlues Tue 05-Feb-13 20:45:13

I went to two schools, one was private, one state.

At the state school (v MC) everybody was high achieving, well dressed.
At the private school, People rolled around in rags and holey shoes, and thats no exaggeration. I couldnt believe my eyes on my first day when i rocked up in brand new bros jeans lol

scarlettsmummy2 Tue 05-Feb-13 21:00:12

My daughter is at private school and many of the children from very well off families are not in designer clothes at all- they tend to be in good quality, practical clothes, often handed down from their older siblings. The more new money have the ugg boots and designer jeans.

Arisbottle Tue 05-Feb-13 21:06:14

We drive relatively new cars, because they are reliable not because we want to show off. But also becasue we grew up being late for school because our parents cars never started, broke down or they didn't have a care.

My children wear a mixture of hand me downs, second hand and new. Again our children dressing nicely matters because we were bullied for wearing crap clothes.

Arisbottle Tue 05-Feb-13 21:06:55

I also see no shame in earning a good wage and then enjoying the fruits of it, as long as you are not exploiting others and you have savings.

baskingseals Tue 05-Feb-13 21:46:25

i agree with midnight.

there is this notion that the english upper classes are benign and something to be secretly, or openly, proud of. they wear red trousers in an amusing manner. throw another labrador on the bed when it gets a bit chilly. drive beaten up estate cars with panache. and are generally, but erroneously seen as people who don't give two figs about the class system, and will happily, cheerily even mix with everybody.

however, pretty much NOTHING could be further from the truth. it is in these people's interests to protect the status quo, and protect they do. but unless you are one of them, a fully paid up member of their exclusive club, you would not want to overhear what they are saying about you behind your back.

don't believe the hype. the upper classes are the biggest snobs of them all. of course they are.

superstarheartbreaker Tue 05-Feb-13 21:54:22

I think the reason why so many people are hung up on class is resentment about the unequal distribution of wealth. Gernerally if you have a better education you can get a better paid job etc. Some professions are considered more middle class such as medicine and law and generally these are dominated by people who have the priveledge of having a private education. People who buck the trend are people like Sir Alan Sugar who is a working class man done good.
It is generally a load of old bollocks though. I hate the class system but thank goodness we don't live in India where there is a caste system.

maddening Tue 05-Feb-13 21:56:14

I don't know what class I am in.

My parents were both working class but my dad worked to get to uni and was a professional in the nhs - so we had a mc upbringing - I went to uni but am financially working class I guess.

However I don't judge by class at all - my friends are from all walks of life - I care that a person has a good heart.

superstarheartbreaker Tue 05-Feb-13 21:58:00

But you see I think the term 'new money' is used in a derogatory way by the upper classes scarlettmummy . They like to make a distiction between those who are born into money and those who have worked hard for it and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

maddening Tue 05-Feb-13 22:02:16



maddening Tue 05-Feb-13 22:02:42
Arisbottle Tue 05-Feb-13 22:02:52

New money is certainly used derogatory, you see it said all the time about the Middleton's even by fellow MCers. On the one hand amusing, on the other hand rather sad.

I am quite proud to be new money, quite proud that no one has given us anything and we have earned it all ourselves.

superstarheartbreaker Tue 05-Feb-13 22:10:02

If I had tons of cash I'd probably buy lots of nice things; I'd probably spend it on a lovely house, nice car and lots of lovely holidays. Life is far too short to pretend that you don't have cash. I do think that some labels such as burberry are percieved as 'chavvy'. Horrible word but there you go. Boden is very middle class! grin

Arisbottle Tue 05-Feb-13 22:16:41

But burberry only became chavvy when working class people started wearing it. How awful to think that a sector of people are deemed so unworthy that they can make clothes unwearable for others.

Tindertree Tue 05-Feb-13 23:11:55

Hmm. Very interesting thread all round. But Burberry 'chavvy'? (Hate the word and all it implies, btw.) Only to the purse-lipped super-anxious, I think.

lazybastard Wed 06-Feb-13 00:42:34

What's awful aris is there is a whole sector of people considered not worthy of being alive, of eating of having a warm safe shelter.

Tindertree Wed 06-Feb-13 01:33:34


Tindertree Wed 06-Feb-13 01:40:29

I think the last ten years have seen an incredible proliferation of class-consciousness. The great middle class trick, perpetrated by conservatives and new labour alike, didn't really, in the long term, help anyone.

Ten, fifteen years ago, you could read an article in the sunday papers about anyone with cultural significance, and it would not, as far as I recall, state that person's class. Now, invariably, it will.

I'd love you all to disagree. I really would.

chilliplant Wed 06-Feb-13 07:48:57

I guess I am new money then. I was brought up in a semi up-north, my Dad was a blue collar worker. We all went to state school and then Uni. We all have good jobs, one of my brothers is a self made millionaire. My kids go to private school, we have a nice house and a nice car.

Does that make me a nouveaux riche chav?

chilliplant Wed 06-Feb-13 08:21:09

Actually, I wonder if you can settle an argument for me.

My SIL says she is middle class, whereas I am working class. Both our parents were blue collar workers, we both went to a state school, both went to Uni, both brought up in a similar size/ value house. However, because I am from up north and have a strong accent and she is from down south and because she recently, in the past 10 years, decided to talk with someones plums in her mouth, she says I am working class whereas she is middle class. I don't dispute this, but can't see why she thinks she is superior to me. She lives in a tiny house and is skint and I am quite the opposite. But still she is insistent that I am working class and that because she speaks a bit posh, she's the dogs bollocks.

As mentioned, not really that bothered about my class, but she is getting on my tits.

SnowBusiness Wed 06-Feb-13 08:32:28

lazybastard why did you choose your NN? Were you being tongue in cheek?

chilli, you've missed out the info on your husbands. Is that where your SIL (sexism alive and well!) has deemed to get her new found class. Also, if she's skint and you're not, she's probably just trying to make you feel better.

Hamishbear Wed 06-Feb-13 08:36:58

Baskingseals you have it absolutely spot on but no one gets it. I think because generally they're not there to hear them.

lazybastard Wed 06-Feb-13 08:54:08

I chose my nickname because of the comments people make about low paid part time workers. I figured if the cap fits.

Btw before I'm flammed I'm only part time because it's all I could get after redundancy. When you take into account studying, working and job hunting I actually do 80-100 hrs per week over and above house work etc.

baskingseals Wed 06-Feb-13 08:54:12

thank you Hamish.

i'm finding it more and more difficult to listen and read on mn the veneration of the upper classes, it's like watching a beaten dog lick their abuser's hand.

these people are not innocent. some of the views they spout are appalling, disgusting even, they certainly are acutely aware of class and if you are not in theirs - forget it. you may be tolerated, especially if you 'know your place'
but you will not be receiving any 'At Home' invitations, but don't worry, because you are certainly not missing anything.

it's a chimera. an illusion. a left-over from feudal days. move on. live your own lives, your own way, don't look to other people thinking they have got it right because they say napkin.

lazybastard Wed 06-Feb-13 08:59:23

Totally agree basking there are some people who are upper class who seem to get their whole sense of worth from how many people they can destroy emotionally. They spout vile diatribes about who deserves to live, eat etc. They say low paid workers are worthless to society etc. They have no interest in reality just bugging themselves up by putting others down.

chilliplant Wed 06-Feb-13 09:08:08

Lazybastard - she's not married.

chilliplant Wed 06-Feb-13 09:08:48

I'm also wondering why that would make me feel better?

baskingseals Wed 06-Feb-13 09:10:21

lazy - there is a sense in the UK of being a subject, rather than a citizen.
the class system is alive and kicking. but that doesn't mean you have to live your life according to it.

be yourself. be proud of who you are, and your own achievements. find your own way in the world. you honestly don't need to send your children to public shcool for them to have a sheen of confidence, that comes from within.

the upper classes are not special, i don't think they should be emulated or admired. what are you admiring? do you want to be like them?

or do you want to be yourself - whoever that is?

lazybastard Wed 06-Feb-13 09:35:36

I haven't achieved anything basking, only failed. On one hand I hope they don't want to go to Uni so I don't have to disappoint them with not having the money then I worry they won't because I don't want to sentence them to a life of not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

School does matter though, a C from Eton is worth significantly more than an A from the local comp.

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Wed 06-Feb-13 09:36:21

So what if I'm working class?

Sorry, had to do that.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the life I've got. I shop at Asda instead of
Waitrose, my children wear clothes from George rather than Verbaudet, we live in a 2 bed council house rather than a beautiful 4 bed detached house, we don't have the luxury of a car just to go down the road to the shop or to go wherever so we walk or rely on public transport, and we go on a little Haven holiday rather than 2 weeks in Florida. But who cares, really?

Not moaning at all. My family and I appreciate the smaller things in life we really do because if we don't then we'll be forever I want want want and when we can't have it that causes great misery. Working class people are not any less worthy of a happy and decent life, they just don't have as much priviledges and luxuries that I suspect middle class people have become so accustomed to that they take for granted.

If I was to become middle class now, having being in a "lower class" I would not look down on people and I would not change my attitude. I am currently working hard towards my career, which isn't bad going for a council house occupying, bus chasing, money budgeting, working class person like moi. smile

baskingseals Wed 06-Feb-13 10:46:33

having a C from Eton isn't going to help you if you are so screwed up by your experience there you take anti-depressants and struggle to get up in the morning.

why do you say you haven't achieved anything lazy?

lazybastard Wed 06-Feb-13 11:06:48

Because everything I have done is considered worthless because ending up needing top up benefits to feed my children means it's ok for people to call me irresponsible, scum, lazy, stupid or whatever insult they feel like. Hitting rock bottom and needing help from benefits as far as UK society is concerned renders anything good or sensible you may have done null and void. Any good you try and do in the present and future will be labelled as a cynical ploy to con the system or an attempt to get something you are not entitled to as the underclass.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 06-Feb-13 11:58:49

"lazy" you are letting what other people say about you dictate what you say about you.

I know we can all have a bad day where we feel down and talk gloomy talk, but if you really think that the stupid fuckers who make assumptions about you without knowing you have any business being in your head, then you should try and overcome that.

scarlettsmummy2 Wed 06-Feb-13 13:45:49

If someone got a 'c' from eton I would think they were virtually special needs wink

Hobbitation Wed 06-Feb-13 13:49:46

I was definitely aware of class before I could have labelled it as such. To say class isn't important elsewhere is disingenuous, it just tends to be called/wrapped up in other things.

lazybastard Wed 06-Feb-13 17:24:14

Katy the people who say these things are those with power. The power to hire and fire so the power to decide if our job hunting will ever succeed. The people with the power to make benefit decisions, the power to make dd cry when they tell their child not to play with her.

FergusSingsTheBlues Wed 06-Feb-13 18:31:24

im ashamed to say that When I watched the seven up series as a young teenager I was surprised that all the WC kids were so content. At that age, it never occured to me that anybody could be satisfied with what they have Its a much nicer outlook than the constant striving to climb up the greasy old class system. The MCs are basically always going to be "aspirational" but its pretty depressing as a life style.

lazy your posts are really interesting but very sad. I'm also on benefits and I don't feel the way that you do (perhaps because my children aren't at school yet? I don't know).

lazybastard Wed 06-Feb-13 18:53:43

Maybe I just know a lot of ignorant snobs like the guy who told dd in front of me 'just ask your Mum for an iPad, I'm sure she'll buy you one if she loves you' or the person I had thought was a friend who now blanks me in the street and has defriended me and blocked me on FB.


lappy Wed 06-Feb-13 20:18:44

Nothing helpful to add but just like to comment that in my workplace (large office) we are all generally working class but also have some very posh ladies (private school educated - working to help pay private school fees for their kids) and also some very much 'dragged up on rough estate' folk. Have to say they all get on really, really well with each other and all seem genuinely interested in each other. Us 'in the middle' love both sides equally. Social events are well attended by everyone and no one seems to judge anyone. So in my life class doesn't matter.

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