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To think that social mobility can mean moving down as well as moving up?

(30 Posts)
PasswordProtected Sun 30-Mar-14 11:11:16

Just that.
What are your thoughts?

PasswordProtected Sun 30-Mar-14 11:13:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Charley50 Sun 30-Mar-14 11:13:19

Sure can! That's what happened in my family. Still middle class education wise but not property wise.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 30-Mar-14 11:14:39

Of course. I've got posh roots (grandparents) but "interesting" childhood. Then oxbridge. Now live in ex council house in not great area and don't fit in here... or anywhere!

Presumably my children will grow up in an ex council house with some of my values but wc contempories and none of the experience of formal diners or large country houses I had growing up.

Hassled Sun 30-Mar-14 11:14:59

Absolutely. I've moved well down - had really quite a posh upbringing.

jenipat Sun 30-Mar-14 11:16:53

Certainly right-what goes up can go down. In fact, divorce can often lead to going down the ladder. NOT a criticism of divorced people, just a matter of fact. Mental illness, loss of job.

OP, I know this is aibu and people can ask what they like, but isn't this blatantly obvious to you? Why do you need to ask aibu?

HowContraryMary Sun 30-Mar-14 11:20:18

People can generally acquire money but not class. Class is something you can buy for your children - if you have the money of course. But in doing so, they will move away from you.

justmyview Sun 30-Mar-14 11:21:49

Yes, I agree. In the past, one side of our family was very wealthy. Their family homes are now nursing homes for 50 people, boarding schools etc. We are nowhere near that level of affluence and never will be.

I don't feel hard done by though. That money arose through one talented business man making vast sums of money in the 1850's. It stands to reason that many generations later, the money he generated has been diluted

MoreBeta Sun 30-Mar-14 11:28:05

Yes it does mean moving down as well as up.

This in particular happened during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It caused great disruption and upheaval to the social structures and wealth distribution of society. Some families with very well off middle class positions in society moved dramatically down the scale. Many people had servants they had to 'let go'. Some working class people who kept their jobs and lower middle class civil servants, academics, public servants all did very well as their wages stayed the same but prices fell dramatically so they could afford to buy much bigger houses and live a better lifestyle. Those who depended on private and inherited wealth did badly - for example the nobility.

Funny thing is that in the last decade the employment of personal servants in the form of cleaners, nannies, housekeepers, drivers has rocketed again and the gap between top and bottom of society measured in pure wealth terms has never been wider in history. This is as true of UK as the USA

A serious economic recession/depression like the Financial Crisis but far worse would cause the top end and middle to collapse downwards. The difference would shrink. Society would become 'more equal' as long as social safety nets stayed in place to maintain the poor at a current level of living standard. Some individuals among the very wealthy and middle class though would face a very drastic reduction in lifestyle.

I read a recent study that it takes 5 generations to recover from a financial disaster in a family. Therefore there are some families who today still face the residual effects of the last Great Depression - both up and down.

redexpat Sun 30-Mar-14 11:40:16

Beta are you in the middle of researching for a book or a phd or something? I feel enriched by your post! grin

PasswordProtected Sun 30-Mar-14 12:19:41

Excellent post MoreBeta and totally ties in with experience.
It is just that on this site, I get the impression that people are expecting to increase their wealth/status etc. and are "frustrated" when things stagnate or take a nose-dive.

Calloh Sun 30-Mar-14 12:30:22

Yes it can go down.

My children will not get the boarding school education or large house I had growing up. Partly this is because large houses and boarding schools are far more expensive than they were, so I can not buy them for my children but economically I am probably in the same class my parents were.

I don't know whether this means the criteria of those who compose the difference classes thing will shift too - will there be anyone driving battered volvos to boarding schools wearing battered Barbours but rather good pearls? Or is it plain unaffordable for almost everyone now?

In a more traditional upper/middle/lower middle class/working class sense. I am lower down then one set of grandparents. This may be because there is no longer an empire and my husband is not Navy. I don't really know.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a literary example.

Grennie Sun 30-Mar-14 12:30:42

True, people complain about how their parents were better off than them and see it as the fault of the government or system.

Grennie Sun 30-Mar-14 12:32:24

Calloh - Individual jobs pay differently to a generation ago. There are just as many wealthy people as in the past. Indeed I thought the amount of children going to private schools was increasing.

TeWiSavesTheDay Sun 30-Mar-14 12:36:01

Hmm, I think that is a bit of a simplification.

I don't expect to be able to afford everything mine and DHs parents could (private schooling, long distance holidays, large house) but I do expect to be able to afford some of it given that our financial position type and level of job etc are much the same.

But we can't.

It's not that we've changed class or done less well it's that those markers of wealth cost much more.

Willemdefoeismine Sun 30-Mar-14 13:09:46

I could have written GoodnessIsThatTheTime's post almost!

DS who goes to a super-selective seems to think himself disadvantaged - I don't agree, as we are just as educated a family as those of his peers (probably more so actually!). However, we don't live in the best of areas and DH is always telling me to 'tone down' my voice when we are out and about locally!

I don't think we've moved down the scale socially in terms of education and outlook, but in wealth terms yes, indeed! However, we weren't brought up to consider money to be the driving force behind achievement so it never has been for me!

FrigginRexManningDay Sun 30-Mar-14 13:33:04

My great grandfather was quite wealthy with a lot of land. This land was originally taken from Irish people and given to a descendant who came over to Ireland during Cromwellian times. My great grandfather was a very compassionate man and was very generous to his tenants during the Great Hunger which was thought of as bizarre by his peers. He could not give the land to his tenants as they were Catholic but charged only a token rent. So he raised the social status of his tenants and that of their children. He knew there was a secret school being held near his home and many times twarthed the authorities from discovering it. On his death bed he converted to Catholicism thus making his ownership of land invalid. So he himself lowered the social status of his children as they would not have inherited land. His children, including my grandmother were highly educated but all ended up working in lower class jobs. I always wonder how she coped being brought up in a wealthy household to suddenly being on par with the tenants her father rented to.

Calloh Sun 30-Mar-14 13:41:34

Friggin that is so interesting, what job did your grandmother do?

Grennie - I didn't know that there are more children at private than before. I know there are a lot of well-paid jobs and obviously people do afford to send their children to private school otherwise they'd close, like great swathes did in the early nineties. I tried to find stats on whether they were disproportionately more expensive then before and couldn't.

FrigginRexManningDay Sun 30-Mar-14 13:59:27

She worked as a housekeeper in her younger years while her children were small and as a companion which would be like a carer now for an elderly couple until she died. She and my grandfather rented and moved around a lot as they were of interest to the Black and Tans due to my great grandfather. My own mother was pushed into the hospitality trade which is a step up from housekeeping and managed to complete secondary school. My own siblings went to university (except me, but thats a different story) so hopefully by the time my dc are adults the plunge to poverty should be starting to lift.

Grennie Sun 30-Mar-14 14:30:04

TeWi - A lot of jobs that a generation ago made you comfortably middle class, no longer do.

As someone said up thread, there is a large growth at the moment in hiring full time staff.

I think some people have moved down the class scale in economic terms, but don't realise it. They think everyone has, when they haven't.

TeWiSavesTheDay Sun 30-Mar-14 14:54:11

Yes, that's what I said.

I don't see that as moving down a class though, I don't agree that money is the defining characteristic of class.

I think that it's pretty obvious that wealth and comparative wealth has changed a lot over the last few decades.

I also think that an extremely small group of super rich, with most people considerably less fortunate is not an ideal social structure if we want social mobility to go up as well as down.

Sandiacre Sun 30-Mar-14 15:11:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Calloh Sun 30-Mar-14 15:25:14

Grennie, I can see that people may feel that everyone has fallen down the class scale when in fact it is only they. However I agree with TeWi that money is not a defining characteristic of class in the U, non-U way.

With regard to the NRS social grade I am in the same grouping as my parents were but public school is unaffordable for my children.

Between 1990 and 2010 school fees at independent day schools rose at three times the rate of household income and I expect there was a similar raw at the public schools. Before the property slump of 2008 the house price to earnings ratio was 6.5. Surely this does mean that school fees and larger houses have become more unaffordable for a larger number of people. Does this mean that those who can't afford it have moved down a class or that a larger number of that class can't afford it?

I know this is all theoretic and doesn't matter at all in any meaningful way but I do find it interesting.

I still find it difficult sometimes, when I am being insecure, to not feel that class is a part of my identity.

MoreBeta Sun 30-Mar-14 16:50:30

redexpat - I work in financial markets (among other things) so I am very close to this issue.

It is really stark how the very wealthiest 1% of society has become incredibly rich as a result of Central Banks printing vast amounts of money that 'rescued' them from the effects of the Financial Crisis but anybody below super rich status (or who does not work directly in financial markets in London) really has not benefitted. The bank bailout was touted as helping us all but in reality it was social welfare for the very rich who would have lost literally all their wealth otherwise.

The effect of the bailout of financial markets and the financial/political elite closely attached to them has been to increase wealth massively at the very top of society among those that have assets - but ordinary people outside London and South East have suffered and continue to suffer greatly from the on going recession.

My own town well outside the South East has a high street and shopping centres with 50% of shops closed and has never recovered.

The Financial Crisis is not over and when it happens again - which it will - I expect the super rich to be much more badly affected and society will become more equal as a result.

uselessidiot Sun 30-Mar-14 17:36:33

YANBU and it's a lot easier to go down than it is to go up.

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