Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Working class vs middle class

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Working class vs middle class

    In 1970 there was a clearly defined working class and a clearly defined middle class in Britain.

    How has this class system changed over the past 50 years? Does it even still exist, or do we just have varying shades of grey in terms of wealth, power, influence, culture and lifestyle etc?

    Is the class system primarily a phenomenon of white indigenous British people that doesn't apply well to post war immigrants and their British born descendants?

    Is Britain now more divided by age rather than social class?

    Is home ownership now the most prominent demarcation line in society, immaterial of one's culture, education, career etc?

  • #2
    Very interesting thread, Arran! I do think that the class system still exists but a bit more transparently - age can be a divider in society, but so can gender as well. The problem is that politically, it is still seen as Conservative - middle class; Labour - working class - Labour win the Daily Mirror-reading unitary authority inner-city constituencies, while the Conservatives still win the rural Daily Telegraph-reading areas which I think is too much of a divide. The same as we thought that BBC - middle class; ITV - working class a la the Swap Shop v Tiswas argument. Class can be such a intrusive and obstructive divide in society and in many ways it can put up barriers between things such as friendships.

    From a Nottingham perspective, "middle class" meant you owned a car and didn't take the bus all the time, you owned a horse at the stables around the corner and wore the jodhpurs to prove it, and you were more likely to live outside the City boundary in areas such as Rushcliffe - if one owned a tractor or a horse, they would almost be living under Rushcliffe rather than Nottingham City. I hated the fact that Nottingham City Council became a unitary authority because when I lived in the inner-city areas, I thought that the Nottinghamshire County Council services that still served my old area had allowed my area to be the same and relate to as the suburbs and rural areas which is what I liked, especially when I went to school under County Council's education system - as of April Fools' Day 1998, it wasn't to be like that anymore - it annoyed me and made me want to move even more. I am a middle class person in a working class body if you like. Now I am in the suburbs thanks to a chance to move a few years ago.

    I tell you something: my parents were as poor as church mice when we lived at home in the seventies and eighties, and so were their parents as well as their parents' parents, ad infinitum going back several generations. I used to wish that my late parents were stereotypical middle class, Times reading, Conservative voting people, and that my father was a Chief Executive of a successful company and my mother was just as successful, bring in a million pounds a year or something - the reality was that my father was signed off due to ill health many years before and read the Daily Star and not The Times. I am the opposite of rich due to personal hardship inherited from my parents and also disability and health-related problems linked to the past, but due to my own views and observations on life, one could say that if I was placed within a group of more middle class people rather than working class ones, I probably would not stand out in the street.

    In summary: so much has changed in the past five decades - inflation in the 1970s being one of them. Something in 1971 would be two and a half times the value seven years later, and that slowed down in the 1980s and 1990s. The 1980s feel more middle class than working class, probably due to Thatcher's premiership and acts such as being able to purchase one's own home. On the other hand, the 1970s would make me think of middle class families, usually a couple with two or more children, living in Middlesex, Surrey or the Home Counties, always tuned to BBC 1 and enjoying Morecambe and Wise at Christmas, and play The Game of Life and all that, but that's probably due to community spirit still going strong, comparing the 1977 and 2002 Queen's Jubilees. The 1990s makes me feel that it is a working class decade, probably because of the Recession of the early 1990s, the Queen's horrible year in 1992, and the changes in society at that point.

    It seems that nearly everything these days is divided - I wish it wasn't though.


    I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
    There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
    I'm having so much fun
    My lucky number's one
    Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
      The problem is that politically, it is still seen as Conservative - middle class; Labour - working class
      It's almost the opposite now!

      Labour under Jeremy Corbyn probably took the vast majority of the votes from the very poor and socioeconomic group E, but otherwise it drew much of its vote from students, 20 something graduates, hipsters, and the comfortably well off Guardian reading progressive left from London and the trendy cities like Bristol, Manchester, Oxford etc. Corbyn made (white British) people with only an elementary level of education who work for a living in low and semi skilled jobs (the real working class?) want to vomit, and millions voted Conservative or Brexit Party instead. Hence the so called red wall constituencies which fell to the Conservatives – like all three in Stoke on Trent which Labour held even during their previous meltdown in 1983.

      Compare a political map from 1983 with one from 2019.

      This political 'reversal' has been going for just over 10 years now. The Green Party initiated a Leaving Labour project some time between 2005 and 2015, on the basis of having economic policies to the left of NuLab and they strongly opposed austerity, but they failed to win any notable support from the working class and the poor.

      UKIP has been an economically capitalist party from the outset, which tended to attract more comfortably well off former Tory types, until Nigel Farage took over when millions of working class folk supported the party as if it was the best thing since sliced bread.

      I have concluded that (white British) working class people tend to be conservative (with a small c) stick in the muds who hold right wing views on social issues (similar to those spewed by the Sun and the Daily Mail) and are mildly xenophobic, as well as believing that LGBT people should keep their sexuality personal. It's possible that social policies eclipse economic policies at the ballot box, which explains the very limited support for the Green Party, far left parties, along with the hatred of Jeremy Corbyn – all of which are social liberals who promote progressive policies.

      As previously stated, social liberals and the progressive left tend to be comfortably well off financially. This phenomenon even existed back in the 1930s when Peter Wright mentioned in Spy Catcher that the Communist party was dominated by comfortably well off intellectuals and shunned by the poor and the working class.

      Comment


      • #4
        Certainly has changed now,
        in my Comp our career advisor, one of the teachers had a talk on our future options , it all involved shipyards, heavy engineering etc which was big here in the north east of England .
        Further education was never given as an option for anyone even though this was a talk to the top band in the school.in my final year of school , I can recall only one boy in 6th form. He was doing Technical drawing and prob only because his dad was a draughtsman
        As for Uni , no one had a chance . I’m sure uni education was free at the time , only these days I see it all being ran as a business

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Semi42 View Post
          Certainly has changed now,
          in my Comp our career advisor, one of the teachers had a talk on our future options , it all involved shipyards, heavy engineering etc which was big here in the north east of England .
          Further education was never given as an option for anyone even though this was a talk to the top band in the school.in my final year of school , I can recall only one boy in 6th form. He was doing Technical drawing and prob only because his dad was a draughtsman.
          The greasy overalls and flat cap heavy industrial workers were the bedrock of the support base for Old Labour. I doubt that many of the 20 something students, graduates, and hipsters from London and the trendy cities who chant "Ooh Jeremy Corbyn" would want to spend their working lives toiling away in a shipyard or a foundry or down a coal mine.

          It does highlight how out of sync the progressive left and the Metropolitan set are with knucklescraping working class folk from 'real' England.

          The progressive left, along with many 20 something students and graduates, are in a class of their own. Not working class despite their 'left' leaning political views, but not your average middle class suburbanites either despite often originating from this demographic.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Arran View Post

            It's almost the opposite now!

            Labour under Jeremy Corbyn probably took the vast majority of the votes from the very poor and socioeconomic group E, but otherwise it drew much of its vote from students, 20 something graduates, hipsters, and the comfortably well off Guardian reading progressive left from London and the trendy cities like Bristol, Manchester, Oxford etc. Corbyn made (white British) people with only an elementary level of education who work for a living in low and semi skilled jobs (the real working class?) want to vomit, and millions voted Conservative or Brexit Party instead. Hence the so called red wall constituencies which fell to the Conservatives – like all three in Stoke on Trent which Labour held even during their previous meltdown in 1983.

            Compare a political map from 1983 with one from 2019.
            There is a lot of truth to all that - I would never have imagined Sedgfield (Tony Blair's old constituency) to be Conservative now. in 2015 I would have assumed that Yeovil would have remained Lib Dem because of Paddy Ashdown's legacy there but that changed as well - back in 1970 the Liberals were third there. I think of Alan Beith, Menzies Campbell and Malcolm Bruce as "the ones that got away" in that respect.

            Interesting about the comparisons between 1983 and 2019 - in my neck of the woods, the Nottingham City constituencies (pre-unitary authority) went Conservative (Michael Knowles, former leader of Kingston-upon-Thames council from 1974 to 1983, take a bow) while the Scargill-supporting mining constituencies north of the county remained Labour, now all the County constituencies have gone to the Conservatives including Bassetlaw and Mansfield which would have happened in the 1980s (they were fed up waiting apparently), while anyone would have thought that Tony Blair was still Prime Minister when one looks at Nottingham City-land - an average of 7.000 Conservative votes for 25,000 Labour ones.

            I think that the fact that the City part is now a unitary authority has meant that they have been "cut off" from the rest of the county. Corbyn only became an MP because Michael O'Halloran, the then Labour MP for Islington North had defected to the SDP - I doubt that Corbyn would have got a chance of getting in otherwise, especially in 1983. I can't imagine a left-wing candidate being elected that year otherwise.

            I know that this not a political forum, and I do apologise of course, but the fact of the matter is, however, that 60% of the past 50 years do come under the scope of this forum, hence the justification of including it on here.



            I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
            There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
            I'm having so much fun
            My lucky number's one
            Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Semi42 View Post
              Certainly has changed now,
              in my Comp our career advisor, one of the teachers had a talk on our future options , it all involved shipyards, heavy engineering etc which was big here in the north east of England .
              It's what I call the "Auf Wiedersehen Pet" factor - again, it's not just working class v middle class but also the north v south divide. Still, I doubt that Robson Green or Jimmy Nail ever worked as bricklayers or in shipyards - I am prepared to be proved wrong of course.

              I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
              There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
              I'm having so much fun
              My lucky number's one
              Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

              Comment


              • #8
                I expect a lot of Labour candidates are drawn from union bureaucracies and social workers, would that be about right? How often does an actual labourer move up in any case for administrative positions of any kind? Haulage, manufacturing...? It's all an arms race of education with Oxbridge at the top and real experience being an afterthought.

                To have a democracy you do need bare minimum two (hopefully fairly healthy) parties, I don't think too much of people who approach politics as extreme football... destroy the enemy party and all that. I think the social mobility thing waxes and wanes regardless. You suffer a few too many upper class personalities negatively and next time look for someone more boring but hopefully actually competent.
                My virtual jigsaws: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/beccabear67/Original-photo-puzzles

                Comment


                • #9
                  I remember Paul O'Grady saying once that I will always be working class background even though I'm rich.Its the Liverpool scouse accent that they will never lose same as other celebrities.Jimmy Nail a working class Geordie.Michael Caine from The East End Elephant & Castle.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                    Interesting about the comparisons between 1983 and 2019
                    Have a look at London. It was a very Conservative city back in the 1980s where Labour was almost entirely cut back to inner London constituencies. In 2019 it was a very Labour city where the Conservatives only hold an odd few constituencies mostly on the outskirts.

                    It's amazing to think that several London constituencies that had Conservative MPs in my own lifetime – including Streatham, Hornsey and Wood Green, Lewisham East / West, Brent North – are probably now unwinnable by the Conservatives due to demographic changes.

                    The voters in coal mining areas would rather dig their eyes out than vote Conservative back in 1983, despite Britain winning the Falkland's War, but several – including Sedgefield, Bassetlaw, Leigh, Don Valley – were won by the Conservatives in 2019 whilst Labour held onto middle class Canterbury (which they did not even win back in the 1997 landslide election) and won Putney (which is home to many hipsters and intellectual types).

                    Also of note is how there was no opposition from any small parties in the industrial and coal mining Labour strongholds in the north and midlands back in 1983. The Brexit party cut deeply into these areas in 2019, which is further indication of the hatred of Labour under Corbyn and which flavour of politics the residents of these areas prefer. In London and the trendy cities, the Brexit Party vote was subdued (or even quite poor) in comparison. If the Brexit Party had not contested the 2019 election, then the Conservatives would almost certainly have wrenched more constituencies from Labour, such as Sunderland and Doncaster.

                    I know that this not a political forum, and I do apologise of course, but the fact of the matter is, however, that 60% of the past 50 years do come under the scope of this forum, hence the justification of including it on here.
                    It's impossible to discuss social class in Britain without touching on politics. Therefore I would appreciate it if the mods would not rain on the parade as long as the political material is relevant to the topic of this discussion.

                    Back in the 1970s through to the mid 1980s, Labour and Conservative had very different and distinctive policies and ideologies. The bedrock of the support base for the Conservatives was the petty bourgeois – middle aged comfortably well off suburbanites who worked in non-manual jobs, along with the owners of small businesses. The bedrock of the support base for Labour was the blue collar workers from urban areas employed in the mining and manufacturing industries, along with those employed in low end public sector jobs.

                    Both of these demographics have been eroded over the decades.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by beccabear67 View Post
                      I expect a lot of Labour candidates are drawn from union bureaucracies and social workers, would that be about right? How often does an actual labourer move up in any case for administrative positions of any kind? Haulage, manufacturing...? It's all an arms race of education with Oxbridge at the top and real experience being an afterthought.
                      The clue is in the name.

                      The Labour Party was established around 1900 to represent the type of folk who left school at the earliest possible age (often without any qualifications) and were employed in menial jobs in factories, shipyards, and coal mines. Such people were usually quite patriotic and socially conservative, married young, and had little interest social mobility, but instead wanted a comfortable life as a member of the working class that wasn't being given to them by the Conservative and Liberal establishment at the time.

                      Labour was not established to represent cappuccino sipping hipsters from trendy cities and university graduates who want professional and white collar careers.

                      I don't think that Labour's traditional core voters were particularly left-wing. Even fewer supported the theories of Karl Marx. It's just that they were employed in heavily unionised industries, so it was in their clear economic interest to vote Labour. Following the decline in heavy industry since the 1970s, along with trade unions being stripped of their powers by the Thatcher government, the natural bond between Labour and the working class had been broken.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by George 1978 View Post

                        It's what I call the "Auf Wiedersehen Pet" factor - again, it's not just working class v middle class but also the north v south divide. Still, I doubt that Robson Green or Jimmy Nail ever worked as bricklayers or in shipyards - I am prepared to be proved wrong of course.
                        Robson Green is actually from rural Northumberland, a traditional middle class area not Tyneside, his Geordie accent was only acting.

                        Jimmy Nail on the other hand is from a working class background however he seemed to disappear up his own backside as his fame grew.
                        The only thing to look forward to is the past

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have been verbally informed that the middle class showed less geographic variation of culture than the working class did. Middle class people from Sussex, Cheshire, Worcestershire, and Hertfordshire would differ in accent but otherwise be culturally similar. Working class people from urban and industrial areas exhibited strong local identities and very distinctive accents.

                          Middle class people could theoretically move around Britain and manage to settle into their new area (if it was generally middle class), but working class people who moved to another working class area would be like a fish out of water.

                          It might be a bit of a simplification and in reality there were other variables in the equation.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HG View Post

                            Robson Green is actually from rural Northumberland, a traditional middle class area not Tyneside, his Geordie accent was only acting.

                            Jimmy Nail on the other hand is from a working class background however he seemed to disappear up his own backside as his fame grew.
                            They are both from the North East whichever way you look at it - I have always wondered whether being a Geordie meant that they had to be from Newcastle or anywhere in the region.
                            I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
                            There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
                            I'm having so much fun
                            My lucky number's one
                            Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by beccabear67 View Post
                              I expect a lot of Labour candidates are drawn from union bureaucracies and social workers, would that be about right? How often does an actual labourer move up in any case for administrative positions of any kind? Haulage, manufacturing...? It's all an arms race of education with Oxbridge at the top and real experience being an afterthought.

                              To have a democracy you do need bare minimum two (hopefully fairly healthy) parties, I don't think too much of people who approach politics as extreme football... destroy the enemy party and all that. I think the social mobility thing waxes and wanes regardless. You suffer a few too many upper class personalities negatively and next time look for someone more boring but hopefully actually competent.
                              The two-party system works in the United States and I think that three's a crowd if more than two parties are involved, which is why the Lib Dems don't get as many seats.
                              I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
                              There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
                              I'm having so much fun
                              My lucky number's one
                              Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X