- Social structure of Britain
The social structure of Britain has clearly changed with the centuries and it is difficult to adequately discuss the topic in a single article. However, there are specific class names, castes, and categories that are helpful to define.
General Social Castes
Some basic categories covering most of the population of Britain around the 17th century and arguably well before and after are as follows:
Unlike some other countries such as the USA, class in Britain is more a matter of values and behaviors such as accent, vocabulary, manners, style of dress and taste than purely money (Fox). Below is a description of the various social classes.
The Upper Class in Britain is statistically very small and consists of the
peerage, gentry, and landowners. These people were traditionally the wealthiest in the land having inherited money and position. Typically they would speak with a Received Pronunciationaccent (although this is changing (Fox))and been educated at public schools. Traditionally the upper class had a disdain for trade (Cooper)
Nouveau richeare people from poorer backgrounds who have made money themselves in Business or Entertainment. They may retain the mannerisms of their original social group or may imitate the behavior of the traditional upper class by for instance sending their children to public school or taking elocution lessons (Satirised as Mr Nouveau Richards by Jilly Cooper). This group is characterised by ostentatious displays of conspicuous consumption(Fox)
Upper Middle Class
The Upper Middle class in Britain consists of the educated professionals who generally come from educated backgrounds (Fox). These people would traditionally speak with a
Received PronunciationAccent, been educated at Public Schools and Universities. Traditional jobs would include Barristers, Doctors, Army officers, Academics, senior Civil Servants or working as stockbrokers in the City of London (Cooper). A typical Mosaic geodemographic type for this group would be [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeA02_Cultural%20Leadership.pdf Cultural leadership] . An example of this type of person from British popular culture is the The Aga Saga Woman from the The Catherine Tate Show
This group was identified by Jilly Cooper in her book "Class" as people from working class or lower middle class backgrounds who gained an education at grammar school and university and have subsequently obtained professional or managerial jobs within companies or government. Jilly Cooper stated that these people are more likely to move geographically than the more local bourgeois "middle middle class". These people are less socially secure then the traditional upper middle class (Fox) and would speak in a mixture of accents depending on their origin. A typical Mosaic Geodemographic type for this group would be [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeA03_Corporate%20Chieftains.pdf Corporate Chieftains]
The Middle Middle Class
The Middle middle class in Britain consists of bourgeois people from less educated backgrounds (satirised by
Jilly Cooperas Howard Weybridge). These people would be less educated then the upper middle class and form pillars of local communities. They would speak in accents which are more provincial than RP and traditionally be less likely to attend university than the upper middle class (Fox). They would be engaged in owning and running local businesses or working for larger corporations as junior and middle management (Fox). Typical Mosaic geodemographic types would include [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeA05_Provincial%20Privilege.pdf Provincial Privilege] . The comedy character Margo Leadbetter is a satirical stereotype for this group.
The Lower Middle Class
The Lower Middle class in Britain consists of people in white collar jobs living in less prosperous suburbs. They would typically not have had a university education. These people would speak in local accents, although relatively mild. A
shibolethfor people from this group is the use of the word "pardon" rather than "sorry" or "say again" when they have not been able to hear the other speaker (referred to as "Pardonia" by Kate Fox). Typical Mosaic Geodemographic types for this group would include [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeC18_Sprawling%20Subtopia.pdf Sprawling Subtopia] or for Successful British Asians [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeC20_Asian%20Enterprise.pdf Asian Enterprise] . The Comedy character Hyacinth Bucketis a satirical stereotype for this social group.
Mondeo Man was described by Kate Fox as a person employed in the private sector in a salesman or entry level management position who drives a
company carsuch as a Ford Mondeo. These people would have had limited education and cultural aspirations (Fox), but are keen to "move up in the world" and are seen by politicians and marketers as representing Middle England. An example of a person from this social group in UK popular culture is Gareth Cheeseman
The Skilled working Class
These people would be in skilled blue collar jobs, traditionally in industry but in recent decades showing entrepeneurial development as the stereotypical
white van man, or self employed contractors. (Fox). These people would speak in local accents and have limited educational attainment. Typical Mosaic types for this group include [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeH46_White%20Van%20Culture.pdf White Van Culture] or [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeD22_Affluent%20Blue%20Collar.pdf Affluent Blue Collar]
Traditional Working Class
These people would work in blue collar jobs with low incomes. They would typically have had low educational attainment and not value education (Cooper). Examples of Mosaic geodemographic groups for these people would be [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeD24_Coronation%20Street.pdf Coronation Street] or [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeH44_Rustbelt%20Resilience.pdf Rustbelt Resilience] An example of this social group from popular culture would be
Jim Roylefrom The Royle Family.
These people would typically be on low incomes and dependent on state benefits. Many would be in public housing or
council estates. These people feel excluded from society (Fox) and typical Mosaic Geodemographic types for these people are [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeF38_Tower%20Block%20Living.pdf Tower Block Living] or [http://www.nomadplus.org.uk/secure%5CIntelligence%5CCommunity%20and%20living%5CMosaic%5CTypeF40_Sharing%20a%20Staircase.pdf Sharing a stair case] An example of this social class from popular culture would be Derek Trotterfrom Only Fools And Horses, another example from British popular culture would be Frank Gallagherfrom Shameless.
Income in the United Kingdom
Poverty in the United Kingdom
Mosaic (geodemography)- System designed to classify Britain by Postcode, into 11 main groups and 61 types.
Linguistics as class indicators
U and non-U English- Social Vocabulary from the 1950s compiled by Nancy Mitford. U represented Upper & Upper middle class vocabulary of the time and Non-U represented lower middle class vocabulary.
Received Pronunciation, Britain's prestige accent used by Upper Class and Upper Middle class people
Standard English, the so-called Queen's English, Britain's prestige dialectused by Upper and Middle class people
Estuary English- Traditionally a lower middle class accent from Southern England now more widely used and influencing RP
Cockney- Traditionally the working class accent of London
Mockney- A deliberate affectation of the working-class London (Cockney) accent by Middle class people to gain "street credibility"
UK Social Stereotypes
Chav- Working class
Essex Man- Skilled working class materialistic
*Ned - poor working class Scottish
Rah- Upper to Upper middle class
Scally- working class from North West England
Sloane Ranger- Upper to Upper middle class
White van man- Working class , Entrepreneurial
Worcester woman- Lower middle to middle middle class
* [http://partners.nytimes.com/books/first/c/cannadine-class.html David Cannadine,The Rise and Fall of Class in Britain]
* [http://history.wisc.edu/sommerville/367/367-03.htm JP Somerville, University of Wisconsin page on early modern social class in Britain]
* [http://www.business-strategies.co.uk/upload/downloads/mosaic%20uk%20brochure.pdf Mosaic Geodemographics Summary]
* [http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article3041270.ece Article from The Times on Taste and class]
* [http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article3576387.ece Article from The Times - are we all Middle class now]
* [http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article3584059.ece Article from the Times - Can you buy your way into the Upper Class]
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article713386.ece Article from the Times]
* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/20/nrclass20.xml article from Daily Telegraph on social mobility]
Jilly CooperClass, A view from Middle England, 1979
Kate FoxWatching the English,2004
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