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Class Confusion?
05-05-2006, 08:00 AM
Post: #1
Class Confusion?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4974460.stm

This won't mean much to our US members, but according to the above report there's a certain amount of confusion among the Brits as to whether they are working class or middle class.

For instance:

"It (the report) found 36% of builders regarded themselves as being middle class, while 29% of bank managers said they were working class.

The report said around 2.67m people considered themselves working class even though they were among the top 20% of richest Britons, while 500,000 who earned more than £100,000 a year also thought of themselves as being working class. "


Do you think this is a sure sign that the class system is breaking down, do you think that it is just an archaic remnant from a different age, or do you think it's still a fundemental, and possibly useful, part of British society?

DO we really know what the terms working class and middle class actually mean?

Are you confused as to where you belong?

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05-05-2006, 08:24 AM (This post was last modified: 05-05-2006 08:29 AM by Patsy.)
Post: #2
Class Confusion?
Interesting you bring this up, Swerve. We were talking about this at work the other day.

When I was young and I asked my Mum what they all meant, I seem to remember that she defined working class as working for someone else and often rented your property; middle class you worked for yourself and owned your own property; upper class were aristocracy.

Very simple terms, I know. I could call my self lower middle class, just because my parents both worked, but my parents' parents were shop owners.

I would have no problem being pigeon holed as working class, either, because I don't think it matters as much as it used to in the days of that TW3 sketch with the Two Ronnies and John Cleese. I work for a living, therefore I am working class.

I think the class system is definitely breaking down, if not already broken.
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05-05-2006, 08:27 AM
Post: #3
Class Confusion?
The original definition of working class is anyone who sells their labour/time for money. Which includes most people. Middle classes are those which own the capital/assets.
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05-05-2006, 08:30 AM
Post: #4
Class Confusion?
Sounds about right by my understanding too, Seab. I have edited my post re the property owning bit because I forgot that. Hope you don't mind. Blush
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05-05-2006, 09:26 AM (This post was last modified: 05-05-2006 09:29 AM by survivorfan.)
Post: #5
Class Confusion?
Seabreeze Wrote:The original definition of working class is anyone who sells their labour/time for money. Which includes most people. Middle classes are those which own the capital/assets.

Mind you, that isn't how the class distinction was generally understood when I was growing up. For instance, if you worked in a factory say on an assembly line, you were working class. If you were a surgeon you were middle class.

THere was also the issue of what your family background was. For instance if you came from a middle class background and went to work as a window cleaner you might well still be considered middle class by virtue of your family.

I think there were identity problems for people who came from a poorer working class background who went on to go to university and get a profession - maybe as a solicitor, an engineer, linguist and so on - considered as middle class professions yet the working class roots were still there and may have caused a sense of division between the person and their family or if not, a form of identity crisis for the person concerned.

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05-05-2006, 03:31 PM
Post: #6
Class Confusion?
Found the class system in England very interesting. Worth comparing to India and Chinese society. My take on Chinese is that it is mainly economic power that defines society level - the Chinese royal families are the billionaires. India more caste, and birth. Not sure what happens if you are the lowest caste and get rich (can that even happen in Indian society? It must be starting to happen).

I read English class definition as largely historic, the lines definitely blurred now due to increasing wealth. But historically, I saw it as:

Working: No or low assets, meet needs through income
Middle: Assets, but need to work. Income exceeds needs, assets accumulate
Upper: Assets. No need to work.

I heard the stories from the hubs grandparents where money was saved in a box in the kitchen. Income was weekly, and had to last the week, with rent collector day, daily shopping budget, save a pound a week for the yearly trip to Butlins, half a crown to the guy who knocked on the door each week for life insurance. As much food as possible grown on the "allotment", still talk about who could eat meat more than once a week aka the "Sunday Joint", except Friday, which, of course, was fish and chips day or a piece of mackeral or cod from wherever. Definitely working class.

Then hubs father started a clothes shop, and ended up owning his semi detached house and although the working class lifestyle didn't change much, enough was saved to send hubs to a public school (same one as John Cleese funnily enough). The public school led to university and the professions, and the class barrier was broken (although I still catch him eating a chip butty every now and then, but then he catches me eating chicken bones and fish tails too, which hints to my parents past). He tells me that when he first got to the public school his nickname was "farmer boy" as he had a strong regional accent, so he lost his accent quickly and then was called "little mr posh" at home, so he had to learn to speak in two ways, one at home, and one at school. Now he is good at accents (eg learning other languages) and puts it down to having to speak two languages as a child "Bristolian" and "English". He can still speak with his mother in a language I do not understand (thats the Bristolian thing, although I started to pick it up after a while...to dap down, to emp out, wurrr bis, deece bisnt, etc ).

The English mother-in-law still insists on living within her old age pension, even though she has a small fortune stashed (whos only purpose seems to be for her to worry about it, refer Happiness thread). She gets stressed by leaving lights on, throwing anything away (scape the mould off and fry it up with the rest of the leftovers). Etc. War child mentality, which sounded like another trip as my grandparents lived through the Japanese occupation vs Nazi bombings. Some similarities.

Interesting culture.
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05-05-2006, 10:41 PM
Post: #7
Class Confusion?
I had first hand experience of class distinction and as SF said, it can lead to an identity crisis.

I came from a poor background, lived in the slum part of West Kensington, outside loo shared by 3 families, no bathroom etc. We had hand-me downs and very little else. My mother did cleaning and my father shifted scenery at the BBC. I was happy enough with all the others in a similar position.

Then I passed the 11+ and got sent to a posh Grammar School equipped in second hand uniform. It was there that I suddenly became aware that we were poor. I discovered (on being invited the spend the weekend with one particular friend) that vests weren't supposed to have holes in them and that some kids had "Sunday" clothes and lots of nice things that I never had. I was embarrassed to invite her to my home where my dear mother served fish paste sandwiches and swiss roll. A world away from the lavish spread I'd had at her home.

I cringe at the thought now but I was ashamed when my parents came to Parent Evening and I noticed how shabbily dressed they were compared to my other friends whose parents had fur coats and posh cars. I was embarrassed that they weren't well spoken and my dad drove an old converted taxi.

My life was a misery, I didn't fit in at the grammar school and when I went home my 'friends' called me a snob. I started playing up and not wanting to go to school. After a year of problems and being sent to a child psychologist (who made me do intelligence tests) they had no idea why I hated the school but they let me leave at the end of the school year and I went to the local Central School with my friends and I was a lot happier.

The trouble is, once you know a different kind of life you become much more aware of your place in society (at the bottom).

I went to work at the BBC which was near where I lived. They were all "daaaahling" this and "sweetie" that. I re-invented myself. My mother (not mum) worked in an office (I didn't say that she cleaned it) and my Father had left us by that time.

I learned a lot from my Boss. He used to correct me if I said I was going for my dinner ("it's lunch my dear, dinner is the evening meal and tea is only taken with the children in the nursery") and he gave me a book to read called U and Non-U by Nancy Mitford. It had a lot of useless information in it like whether it was U (upperclass) to say toilet or lavatory or (non-U to say serviette or napkin) Huh

I suppose the class distinction thing affected my whole life. I was so ashamed of where I lived that I wouldn't take home any boy that I felt would have been shocked by it. I married a man who was one of my own kind but his lack of culture and finesse used to grate on me. (How snobby does that sound eh?)

I don't know if it was just a London thing. I must say that since moving down to the south coast there doesn't seem to be such a great divide. All the children, no matter what their upbringing, seem to have the same classless accent.

Right I've finished - [SIZE="6"]you can wake up now[/SIZE] :laugh:
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05-05-2006, 11:28 PM
Post: #8
Class Confusion?
I thought that was really interesting Crit - you should write a book about your experiences Smile

I can just see you whizzing round 'swinging London' in your BBC days.

Edit: I've no rep left for you :wallbash:

[SIZE=3]

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06-05-2006, 12:10 AM
Post: #9
Class Confusion?
Fee For All Wrote:I thought that was really interesting Crit - you should write a book about your experiences Smile

I can just see you whizzing round 'swinging London' in your BBC days.

Edit: I've no rep left for you :wallbash:

Thanks Fee - I'm glad it didn't send you to sleep Smile Yes, it was a great time and I was all white boots, mini skirts and as trendy as I could afford at the time.

It's a shame that when you have the looks and the figure you're usually young and broke and by the time you can afford the nice things the looks and figure have gone on the downward slope :cry:

I did start to write a book about my life once but it was a bit too steamy and might have upset a lot of people still living Smile
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06-05-2006, 02:22 AM
Post: #10
Class Confusion?
OK...Appalachian American question here...do you consider yourself under a 'class system' or a 'caste system'?? I've seen a lot of British tv and read books and it seems to come down to who you 'come from', family wise. But that could be tv and books and not the real truth. If you were at a posh party would you feel 'out of place' or would you hop in and just go with the flow?? I'm seriously asking this b/c I really hate class systems. We have 'blue-collar' or working folks, and 'white collar' who are your bigwig execs and doctors, etc. We have the class that survives somehow below the US determined poverty level, they are the 'poor'. It seems the 'white collars' get all the tax breaks and etc., especially since Dubbya's been in office.

I guess I'm Cornish...:unsure:
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