The British class system is far more complex than the traditional working, middle and upper tiers we were once content define ourselves within. These tiers, which emerged as a response to the unprecedented disparities in wealth generated by the Industrial Revolution, are “too simplistic” according to Professor Mike Savage of UCL. He claims that cultural and social capital are as relevant as economic capital in defining an individual’s place in society and once these are factors are taken into consideration, the number of class categories rises to seven.
It isn’t so much the survey that makes me want to climb into the airing cupboard and curl up on the hot water tank – I like to learn about other people and their lives – but the fact that people are so excited by the notion that there are new boxes to climb into that they’re queuing up to squeeze in. Technical Middle Class, defined in the survey as “a small, distinctive new class group that is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital, [it] is distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy” appears to be the default position; it is currently trending on Twitter due to the number of people taking the BBC’s Great British Class Survey and reporting their results.
I realise that it’s a natural animal response to move with the pack and rampant individualism is a problem unless confined to small, manageable outbreaks, but it does break my heart to see the people rushing to define themselves within imposed categories because, paradoxically, it makes them feel as though they’re somehow different or special.
Take the survey if you want, it’s here, but you could spend the twenty minutes it apparently takes more wisely. Why not write a story or a song, read a newspaper you would never normally pick up, or indeed, start a book by an author you’ve never tried? Go for a walk. Whatever.
If you want to be different, challenge yourself. Confound your own expectations. Don’t just pretend you are by filling in someone else’s dumb ass survey.