Thinking about class
by Danny Dorling
A presentation by Safia Farooq & Caris Thatcher
Social class is socially constructed and it is very difficult to define as it is always
changing, we were always able to define class in the past very simply on our economic
position as those who own the means of production are at the top of the hierarchy
(middle class) and those who lack wealth are at the bottom (working class). However
there are now other ways in which contribute to class like culture.
The debate on whether we believe if class matters or not is important that we look at how
class is changing now.
In Britain it is said that we are obsessed with class as we constantly talk about it, it is
said that revolution has disrupted the traditional class system based on occupation.
Doring says that in different parts of Britain there is a gap between the rich and the poor.
David Cannadine wrote a book on class in which he explains that Class is apart of our
identity and how we are aware of others for example the use of language which is a part
of an individual's class position like having good grammar and pronouncing words
correctly can show of that you are educated. People who have a higher status are seen
to have an education and therefore the use of language is highly important because
people make assumptions of one another.
Another way in which you can define a class position is through the location of where
someone lives as some parts of Britain can be seen as the rich area whereas others can be
seen as a poor area for example Living in Whalley range may be seen as someone being
well of whereas living in Moss side may be seen as someone who isn't as wealthy as
someone who lives in Whalley range.
The BBC great class survey allows you to recognise what class you belong to, it has
shown seven different classes which is different from the traditional categories this is
because class is more complex than what we believe it is. The survey asks about the
jobs the people you know have but not about their own which could clearly state that
they are showing that it isn't just about ones occupation but many other factors. Race,
gender and ethnicity can all be categorised in which class system someone goes in to for
example with race traditionally a white male would be seen as middle class whereas a
African man wouldn't and still to this day it can still be seen like that but it is slowly
changing where there are African men classed as middle class.
Class has caused many inequalities because of the exploitation that the
lower end of the class face constantly because of the fact that the middle
classes own the means of production and exploit their workers. Wealth is a
part of class but isn’t what defines class as a whole as there are clearly
many other factors like gender, culture and race that contribute to the class
‘The classes that best define us are changing as we change and as the
political, economic and social structure that surrounds us change’
Danny Dorling 2014;457
Safia & Caris