Andrew Curry writes:
Times feature writer Penny Wark interviewed HCHLV director Michelle Harrison for a two part article the paper published last week (here and here) on the idea of class in modern Britain. Michelle also chairs the Institute for Insight in the Public Services, a public sector think-tank which is a co-venture between HCHLV and BMRB. Penny Wark’s starting point was to challenge the notion that “we’re all middle-class now” – Michelle suggested that notions of class had fragmented into shards defined by a complex mix of values, taste, education and consumption patterns:
“There are lots of middle-income people and there are plenty of highly educated people who are socially middle-class. But lots of these people now can’t afford their own homes, or can’t afford to live where they would like to live. So one of the characteristics of class has been eroded.
“Society is becoming more complex as sub-groups emerge where the old values of the classes and the identity badges have got mixed up. There are the educated middle classes who can’t afford the big-ticket items that they would have had a generation ago – and, rather than what they own or whether they live in a big house, it’s now the everyday consumer choices they make that are characteristic of where people see themselves from a class point of view. They express their values and attitudes in what they buy at the supermarket, especially with green and ethical choices. And their taste comes out in where they holiday, what they read. And there is another group, the people who don’t have the education associated with the middle classes, but who do have money.”
The picture above is from the blog From Baghdad to New York, and an intriguing post there on social class in ancient Sumeria.