What is middle class?

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
what really fascinates me is the whole linkage between the minutiae of accents/modes of speech and perceived class - as if 'you can earn whatever you want, but we'll still know what you really are, you can't hide it': which is where it intersects with racialisation
 
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john eden

male pale and stale
How handy! I really dunno why people bother debating about stuff like the meaning of life and the existence of God when they could just look it up on Wikipedia. :rolleyes:

There are several definitions of class on that page, which do you disagree with least? (Bearing in mind you actually brought up the need to define class on the last page of this thread, as if it was some kind of elusive mystery).
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
what really fascinates me is the whole linkage between the minutiae of accents/modes of speech and perceived class - as if 'you can earn whatever you want, but we'll still know what you really are, you can't hide it'...

This I think is related to the weird kind of prejudice/resentment that working-class people can sometimes display towards members of their own family who've 'made good' and gone up a rung or two on the economic ladder (regardless of whether said relative has started 'putting on airs and graces' or otherwise acting 'posh'). I think this might have happened a little in my own family, with some elderly female relatives on my dad's side. There's that bizarre phrase, "S/he's no better than s/he ought to be", I mean what the fuck does that actually mean?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
There are several definitions of class on that page, which do you disagree with least? (Bearing in mind you actually brought up the need to define class on the last page of this thread, as if it was some kind of elusive mystery).

I haven't looked yet, I was just pointing out that it seems a bit glib to post a link to a Wikipedia article when this is just going to be a summary of various people's ideas rather than a definitive answer. I'm interested in what you lot have to say, which is why I asked the question instead of simply reading an encyclopaedia article.
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
This I think is related to the weird kind of prejudice/resentment that working-class people can sometimes display towards members of their own family who've 'made good' and gone up a rung or two on the economic ladder (regardless of whether said relative has started 'putting on airs and graces' or otherwise acting 'posh'). I think this might have happened a little in my own family, with some elderly female relatives on my dad's side. There's that bizarre phrase, "S/he's no better than s/he ought to be", I mean what the fuck does that actually mean?

How the class system works, innit, keeping people 'in their place' with a lot of vague shared understandings as to why a certain order is 'natural'.

But I was thinking more of the way in which this is used by the middle classes against working class people who have 'transcended their station' - the whole obsession in the UK with the 'nouveau riche' is I guess the most obvious example of it. And it works in the same way as it does with race (and the concept of 'passing' is immensely useful here) - what I'm intrigued about are the signifiers used for class prejudice,because in some ways they're more nebulous than the (mainly) purely physical signifiers used in racism.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
The thing about 'nouveau riche' is that when people from backgrounds that have never had much money suddenly find themselves very wealthy, the results can be aesthetically disastrous.

This probably appallingly snobbish, but you know it's true.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
But I was thinking more of the way in which this is used by the middle classes against working class people who have 'transcended their station' - the whole obsession in the UK with the 'nouveau riche' is I guess the most obvious example of it.
I think this is very true, but I'm not sure that it's specifically used by middle class people against working class people so much as by people higher up the general class ladder against people lower down - there are so many gradations and subdivisions these days that it's not clear whether it's still helpful to talk about it in terms of that binary.

Which was kind of my original question...
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
The thing about 'nouveau riche' is that when people from backgrounds that have never had much money suddenly find themselves very wealthy, the results can be aesthetically disastrous.

This probably appallingly snobbish, but you know it's true.

Wow, it's almost like we have a shared sense of aesthetics based on our social background!
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
it IS snobbish and essentialising! People who have always been in money often have appalling taste too - conspicuous consumption goes wrong in all kinds of ways.

Which I suppose may be the nub, that to let people know you've got money in a way that also shows you're having fun is supposedly 'vulgar'; whereas all that's different is that people who've had money all their lives have had a lifetime to think about ways in which to demonstrate their wealth in more 'elegant' ways. Which are often themselves appalling and hilarious, and very rarely elegant - serving ridiculously small portions of stuff, for example, is still something bizarrely associated with expensive, 'classy' restaurants. Whereas it's just risible, annoying and shit.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
It's just a consequence of the 'fine arts' having been kept primarily as the preserve of the upper classes for so long in this country. Maybe it's different in other countries, I dunno. I wouldn't be surprised if there's more of a tradition of working-class artists in France, for example.

(Not talking so much about communist societies where there have been quite deliberate programmes to champion all things proletarian and suppress anything aristocratic or 'bourgeois', though I guess they would count too.)
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
it IS snobbish and essentialising! People who have always been in money often have appalling taste too - conspicuous consumption goes wrong in all kinds of ways.

I was going to add "not that old money is never vulgar either", probably should have.

serving ridiculously small portions of stuff, for example, is still something bizarrely associated with expensive, 'classy' restaurants. Whereas it's just risible, annoying and shit.

Which I guess it's why it's pretty much on the way out, thankfully.
 

Patrick Swayze

I'm trying to shut up
it IS snobbish and essentialising! People who have always been in money often have appalling taste too - conspicuous consumption goes wrong in all kinds of ways.

Which I suppose may be the nub, that to let people know you've got money in a way that also shows you're having fun is supposedly 'vulgar'; whereas all that's different is that people who've had money all their lives have had a lifetime to think about ways in which to demonstrate their wealth in more 'elegant' ways. Which are often themselves appalling and hilarious, and very rarely elegant - serving ridiculously small portions of stuff, for example, is still something bizarrely associated with expensive, 'classy' restaurants. Whereas it's just risible, annoying and shit.

i thought the big white plate/small amount of food thing was the epitome of nouveau riche

i must be really posh
 

146 I.Q. Magical thinker

Bamber Clatscoigne
serving ridiculously small portions of stuff, for example, is still something bizarrely associated with expensive, 'classy' restaurants. Whereas it's just risible, annoying and shit.

If you're a billionaire or monarch you're continuously ending up places where people are desperate to serve you food and take your money, possibly several times a day. High-end grazing. Obviously if only massive portions were on offer the rich would all be enormously obese, which of course many presumably were before the novelty of small, perfectly formed portions of poncey grub. And if they decided not to eat it might be assumed the food was awful.

As ever, the middle classes suffer in their attempts to ape the really rich by paying too much for fuck all to eat.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Ha, why did you delete that post? It's true, there are guys who are 'technically' the Laird of Skye or whatever whose family fell on hard times in the last century and now they run an estate agency or manage a small shop. There was a massive depopulation of the old aristocracy after WWI, after all.
 

146 I.Q. Magical thinker

Bamber Clatscoigne
Ha, why did you delete that post? It's true, there are guys who are 'technically' the Laird of Skye or whatever whose family fell on hard times in the last century and now they run an estate agency or manage a small shop. There was a massive depopulation of the old aristocracy after WWI, after all.

I delete 150% of all my posts. Also, did not want to offend my betters.
 
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Slothrop

Tight but Polite
I thought it'd died out tbh, but last two meals I had at expensive, classic foodie-type restaurants, left feeling hungry. Utter shite.
Playing devil's advocate here, but surely expensive foodie type restaurants have got way past any illusion that the amount you're paying is proportional to the amount of sustenance you get? You're paying for a load of amazing combinations of flavor, texture and presentation and it's actually no more rational to be annoyed at having to fork out an extra pound twenty for a bag of chips on the way home than it would to be annoyed that you're still hungry after a gig...
 
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