What is middle class?

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
Some of the usage on here reminds me of the Dylan Thomas quote to the effect that an alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do.

But what actually defines "middle class" as a socio-political grouping rather than a lazy perjorative used almost exclusively by people who are themselves middle class? What constitutes a minimal definition, and what are the characteristics that are shared by virtually all middle class people?

And are YOU middle class?
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
What percentage of people now self-identify as middle class? It's something incredibly high, I know that. I don't think there are any characteristics that unite all those people. It used to be something to do with a university/college education and a set group of non-manual professions....seems to be much more complicated now, especially as the attitude towards being perceived as working class has altered.
 

Sectionfive

bandwagon house
A load of shite is probably the short answer, these days at least given all the grey area. I see it as relation rather then earnings or living in the suburbs etc.
I think a lot of the self-identifying is based factors away from money or power.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
i remember being at 6th form college and the teacher asked us who was middle class and i was the only person that put their hand up hahahahah. i think he did it to me out of spite.
 

routes

we can delay.ay.ay...
in south africa they have this question.. did ur grandma sleep on the floor?
if u have a job and some money but your grandma slept on the floor, then you're middle class
 

outraygeous

Well-known member
The language thing is quite important. I think its less about income these day.

I know an easy way to know if a girl is middle class. If she sits on the floor of like the tube or on the street.

White middle class girls love that shit.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Ideas of what is "white" have shifted over time, but are always defined against what/who is black. (see the book "how the Irish became white")

Same with middle class. It's a category that doesn't exist in isolation. Whether you use economic or cultural terms, middle class as a category only works in terms of NOT being working class.

IMO, like.

So you need a thread on "what is working class" first, lol.
 

Sectionfive

bandwagon house
Ideas of what is "white" have shifted over time, but are always defined against what/who is black. (see the book "how the Irish became white")
:eek:

Same with middle class. It's a category that doesn't exist in isolation. Whether you use economic or cultural terms, middle class as a category only works in terms of NOT being working class.

IMO, like.
+1

yes, it's a relation
 

Patrick Swayze

I'm trying to shut up
Secret Escapes is an exclusive members only travel club offering our members huge discounts and great deals on hand-picked luxury hotels and holidays.
 

rubberdingyrapids

Well-known member
I know an easy way to know if a girl is middle class. If she sits on the floor of like the tube or on the street. White middle class girls love that shit.
you should spend more time in essex when its late on a saturday night. girls sitting on the floor of public transport is something that knows no class bounds.

on a totally personal note i recently mentioned the subject of class in an interview recently and immediately regretted it as i thought it mightve made me sound a bit classist.

i was asked about how i relate to people different to me, and i mentioned a really posh girl who i studied with and who i think is great, and then the interviewer asked me 'but arent you upper middle class too?' which surprised me as i get told i sound quite east london/essex which makes sense cos where i grew up was basically people who escaped the east end and for better or worse, ive made a deliberate effort in recent years to try and speak a bit 'better' cos people really judge you on your accent/how you speak ive noticed. its like that inbetweeners episode where simon says to will 'youre not clever, you just SOUND clever!'. i think notions of class can get a bit muddled when youre from an immigrant family actually and i did tell the interviewer this (she seemed quite posh fwiw) but maybe she thought i was in denial or something.

but anyway, i would say there is a certain popular m/c identity that seems to have taken shape in the last 6-7 years that you could basically look at the twees are good thread for. and this strand of m/c identity has gone mainstream in a pretty big way. maybe you could even argue that its not such a bad thing that m/c-ness is seen as somewhat 'cool' after years of w/c cool being so dominant.
 
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john eden

male pale and stale
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Watching-English-Hidden-Rules-Behaviour/dp/0340818867

This book has a chapter about class in it which was eye-opening for me. I'm sure it's hardly a comprehensive definition but it was interesting for me to read, as the author basically argues that class is less to do with actual economic standing than the language you use and stuff like that.
The English obsession with class is primarily cultural, yes. The recent C4 series by Grayson Perry on "Taste" is worth a look on this.

He looked specifically at middle class taste being a way for people to differentiate themselves from working class people - perhaps as an indicator of either wealth or success or sophistication. (I.e. both economic and cultural)

"Chavs - The Demonisation of the working class" by Owen Jones would be another reference point.

The marxist conspiracy theory would be that this is a way of dividing people who ultimately have very similar economic interests.
 

Sectionfive

bandwagon house
He looked specifically at middle class taste being a way for people to differentiate themselves from working class people - perhaps as an indicator of either wealth or success or sophistication. (I.e. both economic and cultural)
Like when the Prussians started listening to Bach outside of mass or secular art during the Renaissance.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
He looked specifically at middle class taste being a way for people to differentiate themselves from working class people - perhaps as an indicator of either wealth or success or sophistication. (I.e. both economic and cultural).
Interestingly it cuts the other way as well - during the 18th and 19th centuries, middle class food culture was consciously defined against the overly rich and fancy foreign imports that were associated with the upper classes.

But I think there's quite a complex matrix of cultural superiority at the moment - does it make sense to break it down into working class proles and middle class snobs trying to distance themselves from working class proles. To look at holidays, for instance, people who go to obscure bits of Puglia look down on people who go to popular bits of Tuscany, who look down on people who go to beach resorts in the Canaries, who look down on people who go to beach resorts on Kos...

The marxist conspiracy theory would be that this is a way of dividing people who ultimately have very similar economic interests.
Or alternatively a way of distracting them all with consumption by convincing them that it's vital to differentiate themselves...
 
D

droid

Guest
But I think there's quite a complex matrix of cultural superiority at the moment - does it make sense to break it down into working class proles and middle class snobs trying to distance themselves from working class proles. To look at holidays, for instance, people who go to obscure bits of Puglia look down on people who go to popular bits of Tuscany, who look down on people who go to beach resorts in the Canaries, who look down on people who go to beach resorts on Kos...
Holidays seem to be a good indicator of class alright. Isnt there a cliche that anyone who takes 2 foreign holidays a year is middle class?
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
but anyway, i would say there is a certain popular m/c identity that seems to have taken shape in the last 6-7 years that you could basically look at the twees are good thread for. and this strand of m/c identity has gone mainstream in a pretty big way. maybe you could even argue that its not such a bad thing that m/c-ness is seen as somewhat 'cool' after years of w/c cool being so dominant.
I remain spectacularly unconvinced by the twee thread - it seems like a couple of marketing trends and some unrelated other stuff being bundled together to produce an "identity" that's so vague as to be more or less meaningless, and completely ignores a whole load of other trends that don't fit the alleged pattern.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
This is the whole problem with the cultural indicator model of class, isn't it?

It's only really useful for snobbery, inverted or otherwise.

Whether or not you eat olives and/or listen to road rap has no bearing on your relationship to the means of production, maaaaaaaaan.
 

hucks

Your Message Here
I remain spectacularly unconvinced by the twee thread - it seems like a couple of marketing trends and some unrelated other stuff being bundled together to produce an "identity" that's so vague as to be more or less meaningless, and completely ignores a whole load of other trends that don't fit the alleged pattern.
I think there is/ was some truth in the idea that tweeness had become the marketing trope du jour and that this is fucking annoying. The thread itself turned into another Pointless But It Does My Head in thread, and I rather liked it for doing so.

I'm as middle class as they come, the middlest of class. I've come to notice that my London middle classness is very different from the middle classness of my friends elsewhere in the country, though. There are a lot of middle class professions that only exist in significant numbers in London, for instance, like media, or PR.
 
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