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British class system

(171 Posts)
GagaJo Sat 23-Jan-21 08:47:10

British class system is a bit of an anachronism. Or is it?

Can we change class? Or is it only our children that can do that as a result of the benefits we give them (or don't give them!).

Are you the class you were born into? Have you moved up or down the scale?

Whitewavemark2 Sat 23-Jan-21 08:50:12

Depends how you define class I think.

GagaJo Sat 23-Jan-21 08:52:44

I agree. I still identify as working class, although I have been laughed at for that many times. My occupation, financial status and natural inclination to be bookish. But I sound working class. Grew up in a working class area. Got my education as an adult.

Riverwalk Sat 23-Jan-21 09:01:29

I don't think we change class in our own lifetime - I was born into working class but have lived a middle class lifestyle all my adult life. But I still think of myself as working class. My children are certainly middle class as are my grandchildren.

Take someone like David Beckham who's extremely rich but he'll always be working class.

That's my take on it anyway! Despite many social changes, and the blurring of the edges I think we are still a class-based society.

Kim19 Sat 23-Jan-21 09:03:11

I would need to see an actual structure as to how 'class' is defined. I would say I am in a better position than my grandparents and my Mum but that would be totally due to their sacrifices and encouragement. If I were to place myself in a different 'class' to them (think I'm even finding the word a bit offensive) that would be a kind of barrier between us which I would find unthinkable. Hopefully what used to be the class structure is fading into oblivion. Actually thought it pretty much had. Very interested to read other thoughts here as they emerge.

Kim19 Sat 23-Jan-21 09:05:28

Yes. Some already as I was typing this. Very encouraged by what I read so far.

GagaJo Sat 23-Jan-21 09:15:07

When I was teenager, I worked for a minor aristocratic teenager. I quickly picked up that to be working class (in their eyes) was something to be embarrassed about. They pushed random single posh blokes at me, I suppose seeing it as a kindness, if I could 'catch' one.

The only thing about the middle classes I ever really envied was their easy access to education. As soon as I was able, I put myself through uni and then did a post grad. I felt a bit like Rita, from Educating Rita. When I got to the end of it all, I realised that I still identified with where I came from. I'd just read a few more books than the people I grew up with.

GagaJo Sat 23-Jan-21 09:15:50

*minor aristocratic family (not teenager!)

Septimia Sat 23-Jan-21 09:21:08

Kindness, decency and honesty can be found in any 'class', as can their opposites. In those respects, class is irrelevant.

Many people who think they're somebody important are pains in the neck, whereas people who really are somebody (for whatever reason) are often very down to earth.

PippaZ Sat 23-Jan-21 09:42:26

The Great British Class Survey of 2013 gave us:

1. A wealthy "elite;"

2. A prosperous salaried "middle class" consisting of professionals and managers;

3. A class of technical experts;

4. A class of ‘new affluent’ workers,

5. An ageing traditional working class,

6. A ‘precariat’ characterised by very low levels of capital

7. A group of emergent service workers.

I always thought that it was not the person themselves who decided but those who, from the outside measured their worth and that it often doesn't matter in the least to the individual but may do to economists and gossips.

Mapleleaf Sat 23-Jan-21 09:43:17

It's very difficult to define class really, isn't it? Do you base it upon where you were born, the type of home you grew up in, the area you grew up in, the school you attended, the education you acquired, how much money you have in the bank, who you mix with, who you marry, what your career/job is, your accent, what your parents did/do and so on?

To fit into one particular category is not so easy for many, is if?

PippaZ Sat 23-Jan-21 09:43:31

Oh, and Septimia I always thought every individual was important.

Mapleleaf Sat 23-Jan-21 09:44:13

"is it" not "is if".

Peasblossom Sat 23-Jan-21 09:51:18

My Dad was a labourer, so I suppose I was working class. Education and subsequent career made me middle class. I married into upper class.

What I found was that working class and upper class were both at ease with who they were and the way they lived and both hated pretension, people trying to be what they were not.

They usually said what they thought outright.

The poor old middle class were always worried about what people thought and were always striving to be one rung higher, one bit better. And I never got the hang of the sideways swipe of “I told her tactfully”😬

PippaZ Sat 23-Jan-21 09:55:49

So your upper class now Peasblossom smile. So is that titled or just amazingly rich?

PippaZ Sat 23-Jan-21 10:01:09

you're not your

Kim19 Sat 23-Jan-21 10:03:17

Peasblossom, I think you define the three categories rather well. Thank you.

Peasblossom Sat 23-Jan-21 10:04:29

No, alas they were never rich and it didn’t last 😬

Whitewavemark2 Sat 23-Jan-21 10:09:43

So class can be defined in a number of ways.

Some are

Based on wealth

Value system

Relationship to the means of production

Based on caste

Peasblossom Sat 23-Jan-21 10:10:38

What they had was land but it was all tied up in trusts and they always seemed to be incredibly hard up and in debt, whilst having jewels they couldn’t sell.

It was very weird.

Whitewavemark2 Sat 23-Jan-21 10:15:25

I think upperclass is not one which sociologists recognise

Greyduster Sat 23-Jan-21 10:15:41

I think the lines of any class structure that did exist are blurring now. I was born of working class parents with little education, who “recognised their betters”, but was always encouraged to work hard at school and “better myself”, as were our neighbours’ children. My parents always wanted better for me, as we have always wanted better for ours. I don’t think either of my children would consider themselves to be truly working class now. I’m not really sure whether they consider class at all. You eliminate class through education and hard work. The only tangible class system I have experienced is the services, where there was - for very good reason - a definite demarcation between the officer class and the other ranks which existed, in our day, not only for the men but for their wives and their children. You were expected to know your place. I would like to think, for the families at least, it works differently nowadays, even in the military.

kittylester Sat 23-Jan-21 10:17:36

FGS people are people. We like them or we don't.

Whitewavemark2 Sat 23-Jan-21 10:18:55

I suppose education places you into a type of class as well.

You are frequently asked your educational attainment in surveys.

Whitewavemark2 Sat 23-Jan-21 10:20:35


FGS people are people. We like them or we don't.


Except that classification is used by all sorts of institutions in making really important decisions, like health, education, retail, policing.

You name it class matters for almost everything.