Apr 302009

From the Daily Mail:

Her error is to confuse a person’s class with the amount of money which he or she earns. Our Kate thinks that because her family was poor it was working class.

But there have always been people who earn more money through hard, physical work than some members of the middle class do in less strenuous occupations. Equally, there are impoverished members of the aristocracy.

A well-paid assembly-line worker in a car factory could justifiably claim to be working class, though he might easily have middle-class aspirations. An actor, however poor, cannot claim to be working class. Acting is not a recognised working-class occupation.

Umm… what?

In the US, “class” is pretty much defined by “the amount of money which he or she earns.” A massive fall in your finances can easily take you from “upper class” right down to “lower class,” and a sudden increase in wealth can do the opposite. People regularly shift around from one class to another. Someone who acts for a living and makes ten million dollars a year and lives in a mansion is “upper class.” Someone who acts for a living and make ten grand a year, living in a van down by the river, is very likely “lower class.”

But the Britsh, at least based on this (and quite a number of other things I’ve read, and from discussion with Brit exchange students back in Ye Olde College Days), seem to see “class” as an Indian-style caste system, inheirant to the person from birth to death, or something nailed to the persons job.

Am I wrong here?

 Posted by at 11:49 am
  • robin

    no, you’re not wrong, the english class system still deeply entrenched.
    we englandlanders have a saying,’money can’t buy breeding’.
    it comes from having a long standing aristocracy, as far back as the norman conquest.
    there’s even an inverted form of the class system, in which working people, who’ve earned their money themselves, consider themselves superior to those who’ve ‘merely’ inherited, or acquired their wealth through marriage.
    much the same applies to those who’ve got rich via such methods as financial speculation, looked down on by both workers, and the gentry.
    of course, deep down, even the most lowly class englishman considers himself superior to ‘johnny foreigners’ of all nations, often with unforeseen, and sometimes unpleasant, consequences.