CLASS DIVISIONS IN CONTEMPORARY BRITAIN: LESSONS FROM THE GREAT BRITISH CLASS SURVEY AND THE NATIONAL CHILD DEVELOPMENT STUDY The Great British Class Survey Developed by BBC Lab UK as part of their concern to develop public value and respond to digital journalism. BBC approached us to assist with a survey specifically on cultural, economic and social aspects of class which they thought would have current affairs as well as scientific interest Survey launched in January 2011 and generated 161,000 respondents by that summer. The survey designed to be interactive Indicates the extent of polarisation at the top and bottom of British society A new approach to class? At the centre of our analysis was seeing class not as a bundle of occupations groups but as the product of three forms of capital. The questions on cultural capital, following in the spirit of Culture, Class, Distinction, (Bennett et al 2009) were unusually sophisticated and have not been fully elaborated The position generator question for social capital is the
most wide ranging ever conducted (whether you know people in 37 different occupations.). Questions on economic capital examine income, savings and house price.. . 2: New class fractures: elite and precariat Elite Establish ed middle class 47 184 New affluent workers 29 252 Technical Tradition Emergen Precariat middle al t service classs working workers
class 37 428 13 305 21 048 8 253 4 918 65 844 Household income 89 082 Household savings 142,458 26 090 House value 325 000 176834 128 639 163 362 127 174 17 968 26 948 Social contact score
50.1 45.3 37.8 53.5 41.5 38.3 29.9 Social contact number 16.2 17.0 16.9 3.6
9.8 14.8 6.7 Highbrow cultural capital 16.9 13.7 6.9 9.2 10.8 9.6 6.0
Emerging cultural capital 14.4 16.5 14.8 11.4 6.5 17.5 8.4 9 500 1 138 793 Elite
Establish ed middle class New affluent workers Technical Tradition middle al class working class Emergent Precariat service workers Household income 1
2 4 3 6 5 7 Household savings 1 3 5 2 4
6 7 House value 1 2 4 3 5 7 6 Social contact score 2
3 6 1 4 5 7 Social contact number 3 1 2 7 5
4 6 Highbrow cultural capital 1 2 6 5 3 4 7 Emerging cultural capital
4 3 2 5 7 1 6 Age Elite 57 Established m c New affluent workers Technical mc
46 52 44 Traditional w c Emerging service workers 66 Precariat 50 32 % ethnic min Elite 4 Established m c New affluent workers Technical mc
13 9 11 Traditional w c Emerging service workers 9 Precariat 13 21 % female Elite 50 Established m c New affluent workers
Technical mc 54 59 43 Traditional w c Emerging service workers 62 Precariat 57 55 Implications. The GBCS suggests the power of a voracious and reflexive corporate elite, attuned to methodological novelty, for which London is a magnetic force and which is subject to (partial?) elite reproduction And within this framing, how do we understand the situation of those at the bottom?
PRECARIOUS LIVES: ACCOUNTS FROM QUALITATIVE INTERVIEWS If you had to represent your life through a diagram, which of these would it be? Narratives of the precariat Male Female Occupations Administrative officer; archivist; electrician; decorator; road sweeper; no occupation Net pay per hour
Under 5; 5-7.50 (2); 10-12.50; missing (2) Highest educational qualifications Housing tenure None (2); NVQ1; NVQ2; NVQ3 (2) Bookkeeper; administrator; catering assistant; civil servant; courier; account executive; supervisor; no occupation (2) Under 5 (2); 5-7.50; 7.50-10; 10-12.50; Over 20. None; NVQ1 (3); NVQ2 (5). Owns outright; owns with Own outright (5); own mortgage (3); rent (2)
with mortgage (3); rent. Telling an abject story 13 of the 15 offer accounts of their lives which articulate dealing with trauma which is known to be shaming Unemployment Dealing with criminality and living in disreputable area Ill health and inability to work Severe family/ relationship abuse Most of these accounts mobilise motifs of the sequestration of shame through placing it into a narrative The appeal of class identity definitely working class I think. Working class, [actually] somebody who actually goes to work I just class myself as a working class, get on with anybody, if I like them. Working class aint it? [laughs] Ill never grow out of working class, I wont be middle class. I would say working middle.. I see myself as a working hard person, trying to provide for a family, because I come from a working background.. I would say that Im--, definitely Im working class, down to earth if Im honest.
Conclusions Focus on outlying classes and move away from the problematic of the proletariat Need to develop a new understanding of elites not as gentlemanly status groups, but an expert, knowing and corporate class, fully implicated in Knowing Capitalism. Need to recognise the significance of cultural politics for class analysis, where the stakes of engagement and visibility itself is central. And finally. I am delighted to be involved with colleagues from many Departments in developing LSE initiative for an international centre on inequalities Watch this space!
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