|Verfasst am: 26 Dez 2008 - 13:57:26 Titel:
|Class distinction/social class in Great Britain
Britain was once a class-ridden society. Today, multiculturalism and the different economy are eroding the British class system.
But first of all, we need a definition to understand what social class is.
Social class refers to the hierarchical distinctions between individuals or groups in society and culture. Since prehistory, all societies have perceived hierarchy among their members. Leaders and followers, strong and weak, rich and poor: Social classifications are universal. The term ‘social class’ originally referred to groups of people which had similar roles in processes of production and exchange, but it eventually took on a more general meaning: It now refers to all aspects of a person’s rank in the society.
As a result of that, lawyers or university teachers are given more status than unskilled labourers. The different classes represent different levels of power, influence and money.
Because class can’t be measured directly, there exist the following indicators:
- Costume and grooming -> dress and wardrobe in general
- Political standing vis-à-vis the church
- Social clubs
- Honor titles -> for example ‘doctor’
- Reputation of honor and disgrace
- Language -> the upper class use an elaborated code, the lower classes
- Income or wealth -> net worth, including the ownership of land,
property, means of
- Education and qualifications
- Family background
In general you can say that the distinction refers to the status of a person in the society. There exist two types of status: The ascribed status and the achieved status.
Ascribed status is the social status a person is assigned at birth or assumes involuntarily later in life. Various indicators which determine ascribed status are age, sex, race, group, citizenship and caste. Achieved status describes a social position acquired on the basis of merit. It reflects personal skills, abilities, and efforts, for example being an athlete or being a criminal.
We’ve already read that social classification is universal. It exists in all countries and it already existed many years before.
The following graphic tells something about the social classes during the 17th century.
At the top of this hierarchical graphic are the members of the royal Family and their close relativs.
The peer, consisting of nobles and archbishops, follows. They are often large landholders, live in the royal houses or play an important role on the court.
Baronets, knights (in this case sheriffs or military soldiers), priests and lawyers follow.
Gentry and gentlemen lived during the 17th century without working on rents. Rarely, they worked in law, as priests or in politic.
Yeomen were small small farmers who produced for lords and often played a military role.
Husbandmen were tradesmen or farmers who held a very little land or rented a home.
At the bottom of the hierarchical pyramid were cottagers and labourers who had to work for others and often were villains, vagabonds or criminals. They were treated disparagingly and people dispise them.
Over 50 years ago, the Readership survey changed the system and created the new social grade classification.
A Upper middle class
B Middle class
C1 Lower middle class
C2 Skilled working class
D Working class
E Lowest level of subsistence
In the upper middle class were higher managerials,
administratives or professionals. The hold titles of
nobility and some of them had very big levels of
inherited wealth. They often have attended the
most famous of Britain’s schools.
Generally professionals had advanced university
degrees and often public school educations.
Intermediate managerials, administrativs or
professionals were members of the middle class.
The middle class was similar to the upper class, but
the members usually came from a less establishment-based background and education. They earned well above the national average and owned their own home and land.
People of the lower middle class may not hold a university degree but worked in a good job and earned above the national average too.
Skilled manual workers of the skilled working class generally didn’t hold a university degree, but they worked in experienced roles like supervisor, foreman, plumber, tool-maker or train driver.
Semi- and unskilled workers of the working class had low educational attainment and worked in a semi-skilled or unskilled blue collar profession, for example in fields, as lorry driver, car assembler, docker or production labourer.
On the lowest level of subsistence worked casual or lowest grade workers, pensioners and others who depended on the state for their income.
They’re often employed in the personal service industry such as cleaners, shop assistants and bar workers.
In the 21th century, the UK Office of National Statistics produced a new socio-economic classification. They wanted to provide a more comprehensive and detailed classification to take newer employment patterns into account.
In these new classes not only money is important, but accent, vocabulary, manners and style of dress.
1 Higher Professional and Managerial
2 Lower Managerial and Professional
3 Intermediate occupations
4 Small Employers and non professional self-
5 Lower Supervisory and technical
6 Semi Routine Occupations
7 Routine Occupations
8 Long term unemployed