Is there now an English UPPER Middle Class?

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HonestBob
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#1
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Sociologists and academics now insist that the middle-class is not as homogenious as previously postulated. They say that the British--and in particular the English Middle-Class has an upper strata whose incomes and level of educational attainment from Britain's best private schools and elite universities puts them above middle class, yet still not aristocratic upper class either. To give you a brief feel for what I'm saying, Wikipedia explains it this way:



"Upper middle class

The Upper Middle class in Britain consists of the educated professionals and managers who generally come from higher income backgrounds. This stratum, in England, traditionally uses the Received Pronunciation dialect natively. The upper-middle class are traditionally educated at prestigious major public schools--which are actually fee-paying private institutions, such as Eton, Harrow, Winchester for boys and Benenden, Roedean, St. Swithun's, Wycombe Abbey and Cheltenham Ladies' College for girls. Virtually all are educated at Britain's most exclusive universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrew's, UCL, Imperial, LSE, Durham, Bristol, Warwick, Exeter and Liverpool. The majority of these graduates often then go on to a postgraduate course or an MBA. Traditional careers would include university academics, architects, barristers, diplomats, physicians, military officers, clergy, art dealers, senior civil servants, journalists, judges, artists, writers and those working in business and the City of London in high managerial, executive positions. This social class is not easily defined and personal wealth is not a necessary criterion. Family background, connections are important. Understatement, in both behaviour and taste, is a defining characteristic of the British upper middle class. Traditionally this class is associated with certain professions (barristry, medicine, academia, finance, and the officers of the Royal Navy and Army). However, not all members of these professions are from this class and an upper-middle-class individual sometimes may not work in one of the traditional professions. Other distinctive lifestyle features are such things as taking more than one annual holiday travelling abroad. Ski holidays in France or New England in winter, Easter breaks in Barbados, and summers in Ireland, Provence or Tuscany are typical examples. Luxury automobiles such as Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar and Audi are quite common, and most households would own more than two cars. Bespoke tailoring would also be quite common amongst the British upper middle-class. While every major urban conurbanation would have representitives of this group, London and the Home Counties is where this class would be most visable and prominent. Tastefully furnished four-bedroom detached houses in the green-belt areas of leafy suburban Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and the western reaches of Kent are especially well populated by this class. Much like their American counterpart, the British upper middle class can be subdivided in two, distinguishing a socially liberal but fiscally conservative professional subclass, and the more centre-right leaning managerial, executive subclass. The managerial/executive wing of this class tend to live in the outer suburban areas, while the professional wing is often more urban, preferring instead, the stately old terraces and semi-detatched houses on the streets of such south-western London neighbourhoods as Richmond, Kew, East Sheen, Twickenham, St. Margaret's, Teddington, Surbiton, Kingston and Wimbledon. Single and younger members of this class prefer places like Parson's Green in Fulham, Putney, Clapham Common, and Balham. Politically this is also reflected in the professional wing often voting more along Liberal Democrat lines and the managerial, executive set voting almost exclusively Conservative. A minority of upper middle class families may also have ancestry that directly connects them to the upper classes. Armorial bearings in the form of an escutcheon may denote such past status. A lesser status historically directly relevant to the upper-middle class is that of squire or lord of the manor, however, these property rights are no longer prevalent. Another distinguishing feature of this class is a noticeable prevalence of double-barrelled surnames.

Many upper middle class families may also have previous ancestry that often directly relates to the upper classes. Although not necessarily of the landowning classes - as a result, perhaps, of lack of a male heir - many families' titles/styles have not been inherited and therefore many families' past status became dissolved.


Popular modern day examples of the upper middle class include Boris Johnson (current Mayor of London), Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Grant (British Hollywood actors), Matthew Pinsent (British Olympian and TV personality) and Christopher Cazenove."
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Kiss
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#2
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#2
Words........there's.....too many!




(I'll come back to it once I've had some tea)
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derp
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#3
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There's ALWAYS been an upper middle hasn't there? I'd call myself middle class rather than working class but I am nothing like these people

Also I didn't really know that Exeter and Liverpool were "exclusive" unis!

P.S. Why are you obsessed with poshness and the Home Counties?
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HonestBob
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(Original post by derp)
There's ALWAYS been an upper middle hasn't there? I'd call myself middle class rather than working class but I am nothing like these people

Also I didn't really know that Exeter and Liverpool were "exclusive" unis!

P.S. Why are you obsessed with poshness and the Home Counties?
Liverpool and Exeter have a certain following amongst this group according to Wikipedia. As far as my obsession, I'm a sociology student, so I love the topic of class. I'd love to go on and get a Masters in it once I'm done with the BA. Thanks for replying.
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cambio wechsel
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#5
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(Original post by HonestBob)
Liverpool and Exeter have a certain following amongst this group according to Wikipedia.
Liverpool is presumably there as a joke: a function of the wiki nature of the thing. It's a solid university, but has no social cachet that I'm aware of. Exeter has long been one of the poshest universities in the UK.

(Original post by HonestBob)
As far as my obsession, I'm a sociology student, so I love the topic of class. I'd love to go on and get a Masters in it once I'm done with the BA. Thanks for replying.
Are you a sociology A level student intending to do a BA? If you're actually launched on the BA programme and are asking the question in the header or doing your research on wikipedia, that masters might prove a reach too far.
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HonestBob
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(Original post by cambio wechsel)
Liverpool is presumably there as a joke: a function of the wiki nature of the thing. It's a solid university, but has no social cachet that I'm aware of. Exeter has long been one of the poshest universities in the UK.



Are you a sociology A level student intending to do a BA? If you're actually launched on the BA programme and are asking the question in the header or doing your research on wikipedia, that masters might prove a reach too far.
No, I'm enrolled in a BA programme. Thanks for that career advice. I'll have to reconsider my life's plans now after receiving your critique. Thanks for you brutal honesty, mate. I don't know how I can adequately thank someone like you who is obviously far superior to me in every way.
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Danny the Geezer
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#7
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I'll die in the class I was born, and that's a class of my own, my love.
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derp
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#8
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(Original post by HonestBob)
Liverpool and Exeter have a certain following amongst this group according to Wikipedia. As far as my obsession, I'm a sociology student, so I love the topic of class. I'd love to go on and get a Masters in it once I'm done with the BA. Thanks for replying.
Ahhh now you mention it I do remember about Exeter being a bit of a posh magnet. Still not too certain about Liverpool ahaha!

Yes I see that it is quite interesting. I'm very interested in the supposedly classless US society as well and how that relates to our class system.
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hexgeist
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#9
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I'd call people that meet this description rich.
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Sawasdee
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#10
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#10
Sounds like upper tooting and lower tooting
oh and a pair like lower march and upper march
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Bulbasaur
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#11
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I usually have two holidays abroad, but I'm more lower-middle class..
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MagicNMedicine
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#12
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(Original post by crazylemon)
What's middle class then? There has to be a comparison
The other part is what gets called "Middle England".

If I had to describe what "Middle England" was to me it would be this type of family: a husband and wife who went to state run grammar schools and then went on to Russell Group universities in the 1980s, husband is an accountant in the private sector earning £50k, wife is a middle manager in the public sector earning £35k, they have two kids who they put through private schools at great expense because they weren't confident in the local state school.

They run two cars and can afford a couple of holidays a year and both have decent pensions, if they'd stayed in their original home they would have paid off their 25 year mortgage a couple of years ago but they've moved a couple of times and they extended themselves a bit with their last move so still have a fair way to go. Despite having solid incomes they don't feel as though they are entirely awash with cash.

They were supporters of Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s but got disillusioned with the Tories around the recession of the early 1990s when as new home owners they felt the squeeze of high interest rates, they became Blairites and voted Labour in 1997, 2001 and 2005, which was the time when they enjoyed big gains in the value of their house and hence took the plunge and overextended themselves a bit too much. Now they are split politically, husband has got disillusioned with Labour and blames them for ruining the country's finances and voted Conservative last time, wife is not entirely keen on Labour but secretly voted for them anyway because she is concerned about being a victim of cutbacks in the public sector.

Their son is in his second year at the University of Nottingham doing Mechanical Engineering, before going to university he did a gap year volunteering in India for 6 weeks then travelling through South East Asia and Australia/NZ. He is looking for summer internships in engineering firms. Their daughter is in her A2 year and is very stressed about whether she will get her grades to do French and German at the University of Manchester. She isn't going on a gap year because they want her to go to university straight away to try and beat the fee rises, also they aren't sure about the feasibility of subsidising her to do a gap year in the current financial climate. Her father is suggesting they buy her a car when she passes her driving test but her mother says they would be better putting some in a trust fund for her to help her put down the deposit on a house one day.
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HonestBob
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(Original post by MagicNMedicine)
The other part is what gets called "Middle England".

If I had to describe what "Middle England" was to me it would be this type of family: a husband and wife who went to state run grammar schools and then went on to Russell Group universities in the 1980s, husband is an accountant in the private sector earning £50k, wife is a middle manager in the public sector earning £35k, they have two kids who they put through private schools at great expense because they weren't confident in the local state school.

They run two cars and can afford a couple of holidays a year and both have decent pensions, if they'd stayed in their original home they would have paid off their 25 year mortgage a couple of years ago but they've moved a couple of times and they extended themselves a bit with their last move so still have a fair way to go. Despite having solid incomes they don't feel as though they are entirely awash with cash.

They were supporters of Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s but got disillusioned with the Tories around the recession of the early 1990s when as new home owners they felt the squeeze of high interest rates, they became Blairites and voted Labour in 1997, 2001 and 2005, which was the time when they enjoyed big gains in the value of their house and hence took the plunge and overextended themselves a bit too much. Now they are split politically, husband has got disillusioned with Labour and blames them for ruining the country's finances and voted Conservative last time, wife is not entirely keen on Labour but secretly voted for them anyway because she is concerned about being a victim of cutbacks in the public sector.

Their son is in his second year at the University of Nottingham doing Mechanical Engineering, before going to university he did a gap year volunteering in India for 6 weeks then travelling through South East Asia and Australia/NZ. He is looking for summer internships in engineering firms. Their daughter is in her A2 year and is very stressed about whether she will get her grades to do French and German at the University of Manchester. She isn't going on a gap year because they want her to go to university straight away to try and beat the fee rises, also they aren't sure about the feasibility of subsidising her to do a gap year in the current financial climate. Her father is suggesting they buy her a car when she passes her driving test but her mother says they would be better putting some in a trust fund for her to help her put down the deposit on a house one day.
Oerfect description of the Middle Class in British society. The Upper Middle-Class described further above shows there is less squeeze on them financially. On top of that there are a few other fundamental differences. The Upper Middle Class are almost exclusively drawn from the higher professions and upper levels of management. This means their level of educational attainment is higher than the accountant and his middle manager civil servant. The upper middle class would be working in one of the professions that require extensive post-graduate training such as a surgeon, a barrister or a university lecturer. If they did not opt for the professional career path then they went on to gain a MBA and work in upper management or are on target for that mark because of the quality of schools and universities they attended and the social connections they have made because of wealthy influential parents or the contacts they made whilst attending these better private schools. Nevertheless, being upper middle class does not necessitate one to be wealthy or hail from an affluent family (although most do come from well-off backgrounds, so it sure helps). For instance a university lecturer in an arts and humanities department of a British university is certainly not earning a large amount of money in salary, but the social capital he earned via his many years of education and the social prestige of academia put him squarely into the upper-middle class. In the same sense, if you took a sales manager who has been having a tremendous run in his career by his team of salesmen breaking sales records and earning huge commissions, yet he still would not qualify for upper middle class status despite his affluence. His career didn't require him to acquire an extensive formal education from the limited number of socially acceptable institutions of higher learning, and he most likely does not live the same sort of lifestyle as say a judge or a top mandarin at the Foreign Office. He most likely would have far different interests and travel in an altogether different social set with values other than what he and his friends would hold than say a history professor at UCL.

Most sociologists today agree that Britain is still based on class and the new British class system would look a little more like this:

Upper Class
-Branch 1 = The old aristocracy
-Branch 2 = People of money, although it usually requires at least a few
generations of wealth to qualify.

Upper Middle Class
-Branch 1 = High Professionals - People whose stations in life require
extensive educations beyond a Bachelors Degree level, and
these educations must have been acquired at prestigious
schools and universities.
-Branch 2 = Senior level managers in both the private sector and the civil service.

Middle Class = People who work white collar jobs and who usually were educated to
a Bachelors Degree level, but not always. They generally own property
or aspire to own their own houses in the near future.

Working Class = Blue-collar wage earners who usually work with their hands. They
traditionally belong to trade unions. Many are left-leaning on
economic issues, but can sometimes be right-wing on social issues.
With the demise of manufacturing in Britain, some feel this class is
disappearing, and its members fragmented into the class below or
above.

Working Poor = Impoverished people working menial jobs in the service sector for
low wages. It is often temporary or casual labour they are engaged
in, with no security of trade union protection.

Poor = People out of work and living off of government benefits.
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Florence321
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#14
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how would you define lower middle class?
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HonestBob
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#15
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(Original post by Florence321)
how would you define lower middle class?
I'd say lower middle-class is still placed in the middle class category because its aspirations and lifestyles doesn't differentiate too radically from the solid middle.
However, most would agree a lower middle class exists. I think you could argue the lower middle class would largely be comprised of people who have white collar jobs which don't require a degree (eg. a salesperson, a police constable, a shop keeper or manager, etc.). I would also add skilled tradesmen who own their own business, such as a plumbing contractor. Amongst this class there's less social concern about appearances as you'd find in the solid middle and the upper middle. Incidently, both the lower middle and the working poor are probably the two fastest growing classes in British society today. Maybe the lower middle should have their own category, but with an upper middle morphing into a separate class of their own that could confuse matters. Besides, their is a solid middle-middle class in british society which is far from upper-middle class yet still shares much of the same values and beliefs as a lower-middle class.
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Snagprophet
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#16
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It's a shame that some still see these classes. Still, can't wait until I become middle.
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AspiringGenius
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#17
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Whoever wrote that had never heard of paragraphs...

But yes, "educated professionals": Doctors, Barristers, Lawyers, Surgeons, a few Politicians, etc.

If you really want to define people by class system...
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average-bear
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#18
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Well, I think that there are still calsses in Britain to a certain extent. Obviously money is an important factor but also I find that background and social connections play a part too.

For example, the 'upper classes' are called that because of a family history that dates back generations, but also because of their connections to titled people like Lords and Ladies, and even the royal family.
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MagicNMedicine
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(Original post by HonestBob)
I'd say lower middle-class is still placed in the middle class category because its aspirations and lifestyles doesn't differentiate too radically from the solid middle.
However, most would agree a lower middle class exists. I think you could argue the lower middle class would largely be comprised of people who have white collar jobs which don't require a degree (eg. a salesperson, a police constable, a shop keeper or manager, etc.). I would also add skilled tradesmen who own their own business, such as a plumbing contractor. Amongst this class there's less social concern about appearances as you'd find in the solid middle and the upper middle.
Yes I generally agree with both of your last two posts. I think the big difference between what I would call 'Middle England' above and the 'lower' middle class is income. My stereotyped Middle England family was a husband earning £50k as an accountant and a wife earning £35k as a public sector manager. If you changed those to being a husband who was self employed bringing in £22k and a wife who was a teacher bringing in £28k that would be more what I would call 'lower middle', they probably would only run one car and maybe have one holiday abroad, and they would find it very difficult to send more than one child to private school.

The separating barrier between both those classes and the 'upper' middle classes is the different life advantages that comes with being born into the 'upper' middle classes, through connections etc. Lets say you have a kid from Middle England who doesn't get into Oxbridge and goes to a Russell Group uni like Manchester, and wants to get into investment banking or a magic circle law firm. If he comes on TSR asking what his chances are he will basically be told the odds are not great from Manchester he will have to do some serious networking and get some very good internships. Take his counterpart from the upper middle class who doesn't get into Oxbridge and goes to Manchester and has the same ambitions. He won't really need to come asking for advice on TSR. His Dad probably works in those sectors or if he doesn't he has contacts within those sectors who will organise him some good internships, and after he graduates some unpaid work experience if necessary, so he can counter the missing out on Oxbridge thing by having a glittering CV which will put him ahead of the Middle England guy.

This doesn't mean that the upper middle class guy will get a top job if he is blatantly not up to it, BUT if he is 'competent' he stands a fair chance due to the doors that will be opened for him to widen his CV, whereas the guy from Middle England, hasn't come from a badly off background but he has not come from one that will open doors for him if he isn't obviously exceptional.
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hexgeist
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#20
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Please take this light heartedly:

Features of classes

Working class

Shared room

Walk straight into the front room

Middle class

Brita Filter

Detached house

Dishwasher

A car

Upper Class (all of the middle class plus

Atleast one long haul holiday a year

'Help' at home e.g a cleaner

A private school education

An agar

I add some more if I think of them, anyone got any ideas?
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