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The British class system

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    There has been a very notable and distinct class system in Britain through out its history... the serfs and peasants, the landed gentry and middle classes, the aristocracy...

    Today, it's implied that even the poorest in society can achieve what they want if they try - but do people still, in this apparently forward-thinking country, suffer prejudice against their backgrounds?

    What I'm interested in is whether people still think there's a distinct class system in 21st century Britain.
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    The lines been blurred but it's still there.
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    there is but on subtle level
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    Sadly it still exists.
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    I think there is still a class system present and people have distinct attitudes towards other classes. And people of lower classes can never quite shake off the stigma they have attactched to them, but it is now a lot less obvious than it was before.
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    There is a distinct class system, yes. However, it is quite easy for a working class person to move into the middle classes. We also have a society where it's perfectly acceptable to insult people based on being part of the upper or upper-middle class.
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    (Original post by najinaji)
    There is a distinct class system, yes. However, it is quite easy for a working class person to move into the middle classes. We also have a society where it's perfectly acceptable to insult people based on being part of the upper or upper-middle class.
    I never really understood the distinctions between 'working class' and 'middle class'. At first I thought that working class was just anyone that worked, but it seems to me that most people are middle class and working class is used to describe people who work in low-skilled jobs or don't really work at all?! So confusing.
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    I do think there is still a distinct class system but if you try hard enough and are intelligent or ambitious (or perhaps beautiful - I expect there are gold diggers still :lol:) enough then you can move up a class or two. For example, a student from an impoverished background could excel at school, get into a top university and become an investment banker or something, thus socially climbing. However most people probably stay in the class they were born in, and there does exist discrimination - e.g. against rahs and chavs.
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    (Original post by pellejema)
    I never really understood the distinctions between 'working class' and 'middle class'. At first I thought that working class was just anyone that worked, but it seems to me that most people are middle class and working class is used to describe people who work in low-skilled jobs or don't really work at all?! So confusing.
    Middle class - Skilled/managerial work e.g. teachers, lawyers, doctors & even low-level managers
    Working class - Often blue-collar work, can be low-level white-collar work
    'Underclass' - Chavs and 'scroungers', do not work or contribute to society at all

    (Original post by Etoile)
    I do think there is still a distinct class system but if you try hard enough and are intelligent or ambitious (or perhaps beautiful - I expect there are gold diggers still :lol:) enough then you can move up a class or two. For example, a student from an impoverished background could excel at school, get into a top university and become an investment banker or something, thus socially climbing. However most people probably stay in the class they were born in, and there does exist discrimination - e.g. against rahs and chavs.
    That's more because of the sort of people they are more than anything. It ties to their class somewhat, but it isn't why people are mocking them per se. A person from council housing and living in a poor area can exist as normal and not be considered a chav in any sense.
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    (Original post by pellejema)
    I never really understood the distinctions between 'working class' and 'middle class'. At first I thought that working class was just anyone that worked, but it seems to me that most people are middle class and working class is used to describe people who work in low-skilled jobs or don't really work at all?! So confusing.
    The distinction is generally based on their interests and occupation.

    Yes, income will play a small role, however it bothers me when people (especially tabloids) assume that rich = higher social position. Social class is dependent on a number of factors and the individual's definition, and also how the person conducts themselves.

    To answer your question, it is still apparent that there are social classes in modern Britain. However, it's not as divisive as TSRians like to make out; claiming that just because they're working class they cannot progress in society.
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    Yes, there is still a (blurred) distinction.

    But,for me, the North-South divide is more noticeable
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    (Original post by labby)
    Yes, there is still a (blurred) distinction.

    But,for me, the North-South divide is more noticeable
    ... in that the South is more middle class and the North is more lower class.
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    There is but the lines are blurred and there is social mobility, someone from working class becoming middle class via education.

    The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification is the main way to define Social Class, used since 2001.

    Embourgeoisement Theory, springs to mind
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    I think it's obvious in the UK, which, despite being very rich, is one of the most unequal developed countries (meaning where you grow up has a large influence on your chances of rising up the social ladder). The US is even worse in that respect. In more equal countries, like Japan and Sweden, where you grow up isn't as influential as it is here. It's really sad, because Britain would be a happier place to live if we didn't have this huge divide.
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    (Original post by jaxxa)
    I think it's obvious in the UK, which, despite being very rich, is one of the most unequal developed countries (meaning where you grow up has a large influence on your chances of rising up the social ladder). The US is even worse in that respect. In more equal countries, like Japan and Sweden, where you grow up isn't as influential as it is here. It's really sad, because Britain would be a happier place to live if we didn't have this huge divide.
    Nope. The US might be a capitalist society, so it would appear that the social divide would be quite pronounced, but in my experience of both countries, nothing comes quite close to what I've witnessed here in the UK. Social class is such a major and integral part of people's identities, that it is evinced even in their speech, manner of dress, and interests. In the US, you likely wouldn't be able read off most people's social class merely from their speech, unless we're speaking of people falling on the extreme end of the underclass. In fact, sometimes my friends and I are beside ourselves in amazement at the British preoccupation with class and things like prestige. I have horror stories of first encounters, where some girls proceeded to list off what public school they attended, what clubs they were part of etc....as if I was meant to be impressed by this. Even more vulgar was when they started asking me about my parents' jobs, where I'd travelled, attended school, and where I lived, an act of trying to socially place me in the absence of any of the usual shorthand, such as speech, elocution or dress. So in answer to the OP, yes, social class figures quite largely here in Britain, and it's even more pronounced when you're outside the system looking in on people's fixations with bemusement.
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    This clip made me LOL:






    On a side note and this is addressed to anyone:
    If someone said you were 'working class', how would you respond? Would you be uncomfortable or happy?
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    (Original post by pellejema)
    There has been a very notable and distinct class system in Britain through out its history... the serfs and peasants, the landed gentry and middle classes, the aristocracy...

    Today, it's implied that even the poorest in society can achieve what they want if they try - but do people still, in this apparently forward-thinking country, suffer prejudice against their backgrounds?

    What I'm interested in is whether people still think there's a distinct class system in 21st century Britain.
    Oh, for sure it's there. I've heard the UK has one of the worst records for class separation in the Western world.

    It's pretty easy to move between working class and lower middle class, but the further up you try to go, the harder it gets to move up. Your class does determine a lot of things about you (mannerisms, expectations, subculture, how you talk, who you hang out with, etc). It's also interesting to note that most working class people think they're middle class when they're really not.
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    (Original post by X_mark_the_spot)
    Nope. The US might be a capitalist society, so it would appear that the social divide would be quite pronounced, but in my experience of both countries, nothing comes quite close to what I've witnessed here in the UK. Social class is such a major and integral part of people's identities, that it is evinced even in their speech, manner of dress, and interests. In the US, you likely wouldn't be able read off most people's social class merely from their speech, unless we're speaking of people falling on the extreme end of the underclass. In fact, sometimes my friends and I are beside ourselves in amazement at the British preoccupation with class and things like prestige. I have horror stories of first encounters, where some girls proceeded to list off what public school they attended, what clubs they were part of etc....as if I was meant to be impressed by this. Even more vulgar was when they started asking me about my parents' jobs, where I'd travelled, attended school, and where I lived, an act of trying to socially place me in the absence of any of the usual shorthand, such as speech, elocution or dress. So in answer to the OP, yes, social class figures quite largely here in Britain, and it's even more pronounced when you're outside the system looking in on people's fixations with bemusement.
    Actually, it's a statistical fact that the US is a more unequal society than the UK (so wealth is distributed even more unevenly as it is here). Not defending the UK as such - they're both terrible - but the US is marginally worse.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._and_transfers
    ^ That link shows inequality using the Gini coefficient (lower the number, the more equal that country is)

    Maybe you're right that British people are more obsessed with class than Americans. I have no idea. However, the higher crime rates and social issues over there would indicate it's causing them more real problems (unless higher crime rates are due to something other than inequality, but I personally don't think so).
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    (Original post by najinaji)
    There is a distinct class system, yes. However, it is quite easy for a working class person to move into the middle classes. We also have a society where it's perfectly acceptable to insult people based on being part of the upper or upper-middle class.
    You say it's easy for someone to move from being working class to middle class, but does anyone remember the press treatment of the Middletons before Kate and Wills got married? In my opinion, Britain is even more scathing of people who try to better themselves socially than any distinct class (besides perhaps the 'underclass', though even they are treated with some sympathy). No one could say that the Middleton family were working class, but to me the language the press used smacked of a 'you should know your place' attitude.
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    It's still here and it's not subtle at all.

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