The defintion of class in England (or anywhere) has always been good manners.
The defintion of class in England (or anywhere) has always been good manners.
Somewhere between common and inbred lies... the middle classes!
Seriously, I always thought it was down to education. Further or higer education indicated middle-class status, titles and aristocracy meant upper class, and neither meant working class.
The other definition I have heard of was conditional on 'means of production'. But then, you either have that or you don't, so I don't get where the third category comes in.
Despite what Blair says, I'm still of the opinion that the class system still exists in Britain today
I'm not saying that she isn't a terrific little actress, but when she was appearing in The Diary of Anne Frank, when the SS came to the apartment, the audience rose as one and yelled "She's in the Attic!"
Aristocracy is a governing ruling class into which all of its members are born and consists of blood line. It is ruling by the "best" or a privileged group of people. And yes, one is born into it. There is really no such thing as a self-made Aristocrat. Although, most members of an Aristocracy are monied, money has little to do with it. There are many Aristocrats throughout Europe who have little or no money.
Today, the word Aristocrat is often used to imply an upper class which has money; however, that is not the correct definition of Aristocracy. Joe, your friend would be considered nouveau riche not at all Aristocratic is the strict sense of the meaning as Aristocracy has to do with a ruling government body.
Politically, a class is a vast group of people, determined by the way it partcipates in sharing the gross national product.
So, guys, who work from 9-5 or whatever are by definition: working class.
A guy, who lives off the proceeds of his trust, or off his dividends, or coz, his Dad left him a big real estate empire to rent and live off the proceeds of it, or coz he has got a major industry is a 'rentier' and belongs to the much beloved class of the capitalists.
Nope, sociologically, class has far less to do with your education, manners, or even titles. It all has to do with how you make your bread and butter...
In the good old days, you could tell what class an Englishman belonged to the minute he opened his mouth. "You can tell by his vowels, he's a terrible oik" says the grandmother in After Henry, speaking of her new vicar.
Today a sort of all-purpose accent, with a little bit of estuary and so forth, seems to be quite chic.
There were many other subtle indicators as well. It was all a very elaborate code which one had no chance of cracking unless born to it. If you didn't hear what somebody said, did you say "Pardon?" or "what?". Did you watch TV in the sitting room or the lounge?
What do you call your evening meal? Used to be tea for the lower orders, dinner or supper for the uppers. Now I suppose it's tea for everybody.
How much money you had had little to do with it. Many members of the upper class were seriously impoverished, while a manufacturer of toilet seats could be a zillionaire.
How you make your living is a little trickier. Obviously some occupations were closed to the upper classes. Others were more fluid. The professions, based more on ability than connections, tended to draw people from a wide range of classes. Worse come to worst, you could always adjust your accent. Government has attracted a mix of classes for a long time (where too posh an accent could be a big handicap).
In the last few decades, the govt, the educational system, TV, and everybody else has been laboring mightily to erase these distinctions. Have they succeeded? I'm not in a position to say.
Needless to say, we have class distinctions over here as well. Perhaps worse, because we're not willing to acknowledge or deal with them.
I think they're inevitable in every society, really. I'm sure even in N. Korea there's a big class divide, probably around the issue of whether you can afford to eat dog or not.
Oh, my country, bless the training that from cot to castle runs -
The pitfall of the stranger but the bulwark of thy sons -
Measured speech and ordered action, sluggish soul and un - perturbed,
Till we wake our Island-Devil-nowise cool for being curbed!
When the heir of all the ages "has the honour to remain,"
When he will not hear an insult, though men make it ne'er so plain,
When his lips are schooled to meekness, when his back is bowed to blows -
Well the keen aas-vogels know it-well the waiting jackal knows.
Build on the flanks of Etna where the sullen smoke-puffs float -
Or bathe in tropic waters where the lean fin dogs the boat -
Cock the gun that is not loaded, cook the frozen dynamite -
But oh, beware my Country, when my Country grows polite!
The wolf is carnivore incarnate.
Only immaculate flesh pleases him.
--The Company of Wolves by Angela Carter
The Braindump - an infrequently updated blog
Attributed variously to Oscar Wilde, Osbert Sitwell, David Niven, and G. K. Chesterton. (But I've yet to unearth a positive source.)
Ultimately it comes down to money and status. The trouble is that most of the people with both those things haven't earned them, they've inherited them. And thats why the class system is a load of bollocks.
There's that old joke... if there were 3 englishmen on a desert island, within 3 days they'd have set out a class system. Probably true.
The class system is still very strong in England.
But I think it's shifted. Now the Upper Classes are repressed more...especially in the popular culture. You never hear anyone with upper class accents on TV. Any TV drama is ALWAYS about the working classes & has been for years now, unless it's set in the past.
There was a girl on Big Brother recently who wasn't even upper class or near it & the vitriol she received for many things, one of them being that people perceived her as 'posh'.
TV shows like 'Friends' would never be made here...they'd be considered too posh!...and people wonder why we can't make decent comedies.
I find it very dull...always, always focusing on the lower classes so as not to upset anyone.
It's still a very touchy subject. The working classes are having their revenge!
I never really understood the class system as such as i've never really known what class it is I belong to. My mother and father are quite well off but me and my siblings have had to work even harder, I believe than either one of our parents had to when they were growing up. There's not a single thing I own that I haven't had to work hard for so therfore you'd think that i'd classed as "working class" as i've been working since the age of 14. Often in this country if your parents are deemed as "middle classed" then so are you but I believe the only person who can define your class is you. And the reason this country has an obsession with the working classes, is that we're far more interesting than them there other classes. Innit.
I think 'toffs' is the best bit.
Am I for real?
Are you, with your 'gritty' banter?
'we dont have a writing culture on TV'
Exactly, they write like you talk. Switch on the TV any night :-
'There are more interesting things in the lives of the working classes.'
'Interesting things'...please explain.
It all makes me feel so Eliza Dolittle.
I hate hate hate all the stereotypes. I don't like it that some people judge others on their postcode and their accent. I don't like it that people ask where i was born and then when i tell them i'm at University they're shocked, and then of course it's 'but i'll bet University is cheap for you'.
But the sad thing is, the stereotypes are far too often founded. None of my primary school friends who lived on the same estate as me did A-Levels, not all of them did GCSE's, even fewer actually passed, most of them find it hilariously funny that i'm in higher education, most of them are already collecting benefit, just like their parents. And yes, i do pay less for University than all my new University friends who's parents are lawyers or executives etc etc, but many of them are getting financial help from their parents and some will never have to pay a penny themselves, but still i'd never admit to them that i get a bursary from the University, because i've heard them make fun of other people who get far less than i do and say it's unfair.
But i'm far more angry at myself than i am at other people who take class far too seriously, because i think i take it too seriously myself. Deep down, i feel ashamed of myself, and i'm ashamed of that. I actually found myself telling my new University friends who all come from wealthier backgrounds than myself that my dad is a police officer, they were all talking about what their parents did and when i was asked i just lied without really thinking about it and that worries me, but then i can sort of see why because when i told them my mum is a hairdresser they called me "common", of course it was a joke but it makes you think, by revealing that one piece of information about my mum my whole situation was assessed!
The worst thing is i realised the other day that i actually tone down my accent and try to make it more "BBC" in front of professors, at work, in front of some of the new people i've met since moving away, and most worryingly sometimes even in front of my own boyfriend who would be regarded as "posh", why do i do that? fuck knows. he loves me and isn't going to leave me because i don't have as much money as him because it isn't a problem, so why do i let myself think it is?
I think it's because of the way i saw people treat my mum, people having the nerve to tell her she was a bad parent simply because of her salary, postcode, and for sending her children to the local school.
Sorry i really have ranted and not actually answered the questions, but i was thinking about this only today when the place i was born and raised was proclaimed worst place to live in Britain on the telly. My best friend at Uni found it hilarious and said some rather amusing things. But of course "it wasn't your fault your family live there, and still even if everyone else is a delinquent at least you got good exam results" better than yours my dear, better than yours
I don't like the stereotypes against upper class people either, and the way that suddenly now that's something to be ashamed of too. What's not to be ashamed of these days? You're damned if you're rich and you're damned if you're not! God it's all just so bloody rediculous...
Four English guys and a woman are stuck in an elevator.
While they are stuck, they strike up a conversation.
The first guy says, "I'm a Y.U.P.P.I.E. , you know...
''Young, Urban, Professional, Peaceful, Intelligent, Ecologist.''
The second guy says, "I'm a D.I.N.K.Y., you know...
''Double Income, No Kids Yet. "
The third guy says, "I'm a R.U.B., you know...
''Rich, Urban, Biker. "
The fourth guy says, I am a D.I.L.D.O., you know...
''Double Income, Little Dog Owner.''
They turn to the woman and ask her.
She replies: "I'm a WIFE, you know...
Wash, Iron, Fuck, Etc.''
It's quite strange with me really. My parents originally came from a real working class background in Hong Kong and they were the children of farmers, living on the periphery of the city. However they came here in the UK in the 1970s with barely any grasp of the English language and started setting up take-aways, none of which were very successful. However they moved down south of England and set up a fish and chip shop. It gradually became more successful than their other business ventures and soon they had enough money to send me to a private school. There, me and the pupils would talk about what their parents did (lawyers, doctors etc) and I remember them making fun of me cos my parents owned a fish and chip shop, which was kinda anooying. I wish I said something like "eeewww I bet your dad has to look up people's bottoms! I heard that's what they have to do in hospitals!"
Anyway if you were to look at my parents' occupation and house, you might say working class. But if you were to look at the school I go to and their salaries then you would say probably upper middle class.