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Sociologist Can’t Do Sociology

This is capitalism now apparently

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…..

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Bernie G.
Bernie G.
1 month ago

Friedman is correct in identifying the fetishization of meritocracy, and yes tribal affinity retains a strong – if increasingly boorish – pull. Truth to tell while the subject exercised me in my 20s I have largely grown out of it. Most of the sabs I meet are driven by class rather than animal welfare, as is the average Scot’s rabid dislike of Boris Johnson. The working class have always retained a forelock-tugging admiration for the upper class, who conversely remain patronisingly fond of the peasants. Both despise the middle bit. Perhaps it has less to do with class than their… Read more »

john77
john77
1 month ago

Under Attlee hated from below sufficiently for boys to attempt to eliminate the bourgeoisie by physically beating them to death. Any working-class children of that era – so many of them middle-class parents of the younger middle-class generation of today – should have learned that a survival requirement was to proclaim that they wre working class not middle class.

Boganboy
Boganboy
1 month ago
Reply to  john77

Like proving, these days, that you’ve a drop of that holy black blood?

Bongo
Bongo
1 month ago

If peeps have defined poverty or homelessness to mean new things, then I think class needs a new definition. I propose the following 3 classes based on sources of income: 2/3rd or more of income from wealth – upper class 2/3rd or more of income from work – working class 2/3rd or more of income from transfers – benefiterati class You can fall in neither category outright of course, in which case you can hyphenate or choose an in between term. So if 6/10ths of your spend is from work and the rest from an inheritance or other wealth, then… Read more »

dodgy geezer
dodgy geezer
1 month ago
Reply to  Bongo

So…a scrounger who wins the pools is upper class? While a belted earl who has a couple of directorships is working class?

I prefer Douglas Adam’s division of Golgafrinchan society into Useful and Useless:

” they built three Ark ships. Into the A ship would go all the leaders, scientists and other high achievers. The C ship would contain all the people who made things and did things, and the B Ark would hold everyone else, such as hairdressers and telephone sanitisers….”

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  Bongo

For it to be class — in the UK at least — I would suggest that how your parents gained their income while you were a kid would be a better indication than what you do yourself.

Felipe Grey
Felipe Grey
1 month ago

Isn’t it possible to come from a working class background (defined as that of your parents) but to be middle class yourself? That’s the very definition of social mobility surely.

Spike
Spike
1 month ago

Let’s reset and consider why people want to be middle-class to begin with: because the middle is safe. Those above me are to be resented for not having to work as hard as I do; those below me are to be resented for being on the suck, which means they don’t have to work hard either.

The reason everyone else considers class is as an easy way to stereotype. So there’s the stereotype I want you to have of me. Blameless!

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