The list of things that sociologists are capable of doing is not long. But we would, sorta, maybe, hope that they’d be able to do sociology. Yet even this subject seems to mystify them.
An actual sociologist, working for the Social Mobility Commission, is perplexed at why so many middle class Brits seem to claim they’re working class. Something that would be obvious to anyone who actually understood the British class system. You know, that study of so many sociologists?
One explanation for this is that many simply do not see themselves as privileged. Britain certainly has an unusual attachment to working-class identities. While in most western countries people tend to identify as middle class, Britain has long been an intriguing outlier. According to the British Social Attitudes Survey, 47% of Britons in middle-class professional and managerial jobs identify as working class. Even more curiously, a quarter of people in such jobs who come from middle-class backgrounds – in the sense that their parents did professional work – also identify as working class.
Whether matters should be this way or not in another matter. But any observer of that British class system will know that it is indeed a little different from that in other places.
The aristocracy have always looked down upon the middle class. That gross and inelegant disdain for trade for example. The insistence that actually doing something for a living – even professionally – just isn’t as good as doing nothing off a rent roll.
From the other end we’ve that very bolshie – in the colloquial sense – insistence that the middle class are just parasites upon the toil of the workers. This being what also informs – misinforms – that idea that we’d be better off if we had much more manufacturing. Men in flat caps doing something physical etc.
That is, much of the society dislikes the very existence of the middle class. Actually, more than dislikes, from above they’re – we’re – despised and from blow hated to the point that we bourgeoisie should be eliminated as a class.
The surprise that fewer claim to be of that section of the hierarchy than are is thus, well, it’s a surprise, right?
As a sociologist might be expected to know…..