I wrote a few days ago, that one of the cultural definitions of the Brits is that old rivalries die hard. I was talking about geographical differences, but another one of our defining rivalries is the great class struggle.
Traditionally there was the working, the middle and the upper classes. But last week the BBC posted a simple online test us Brits could take to find out which of the seven new ‘classes’ we were members of. Ostensibly taking into account the subtleties which define class – not just economic position but your social and cultural capital too – by answering a handful of questions we could redefine ourselves.
So, I’m the daughter of teachers, university educated, non-property owning, enjoying high culture such as art, theatre and classical music, as well as going to gigs. I don’t watch TV really, I listen to Radio 4 mostly, and I like to travel to non-commercial foreign destinations. All of this I would say would put me firmly in the middle class. Probably somewhere between lower and middle middle. Whatever that means!
The seven classifications these sociologists came up with are (starting from the bottom):
The precariat, the emergent service worker, the traditional working class, new affluent workers, technical middle class, established middle class, and the elite.
I am second from the bottom – the emergent service worker. Rich in cultural and social, but not actual, capital. Everyone, except one person, who I know is from the established or technical middle class, or the elite. The one – an Oxbridge graduate no less – is also Northern like me. Not to revive the old ‘Northern chip on the shoulder’ thing, but I do wonder about these categories. And also how I have come to socialise with such a diverse range of high performing, high class people – I guess I moved to London.
I can’t and wouldn’t ever claim working class roots like some writers who are clearly middle class now, do. But according to this test, I’m closer to the working class than I ever thought. Which leads me on to my next post about the vilification of the Precariat…