Social Class in the UK

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Social Class in the UK. How much does it matter?. Are we all middle class now?. In the past 40 years the proportion of Britons who regard themselves as middle class has risen from 30 to 43%.
Social Class in the UKHow much does it matter?Are we all middle class now?In the past 40 years the proportion of Britons who regard themselves as middle class has risen from 30 to 43%. According to a report from the Future Foundation think-tank, the working classes are in rapid decline, with the middle class poised to become the majority of the population by 2020.What social class are you?Marketing by Social ClassMany businesses, prefer to use the definition of social class as provided by the National Readership Survey. This enables them to market their products towards the people most likely to buy them. For example,M&S AdvertWhich social class does M&S target?Newspaper readership by social classWhy do so few people from classes DE read The Guardian?Why do so few people from classes AB read The Sun?Traditional definitions of social classThe sociologist who pioneered much of our thinking on social class was Karl Marx. While he lived in the 19th century, much of today’s discussions of social class still revolve around Marx’s language and his model of social class, deriving from a person’s economic status. Has the working class disappeared?In the 1980s many “traditional” working jobs and communities disappeared. This was popularised on tv by, left, “Loadsamoney”, right, “Yosser” Hughes.Loadsamoney was a plasterer who became self employed. He made “Loadsamoney” as the sale of council houses prompted people to improve their homes. By contrast, Yosser became long term unemployed, unable to find a job as his skills in manufacturing industry became obsolete.Is there an underclass?Has the working class disappeared? Either upwardly into the middle class or downwardly into a “chav” lifestyle? Is it fair to label people as “neds” or “chavs”?Class and educationEducation is often the key to social mobilityNot just formal qualifications, but “soft skills”, such as confidence and connectionsBut, do we all get an equal chance to have a good education?What are the factors that determine who does best at school?Location LocationLocationKelvinside
  • Morningside?
  • orWhere someone is brought up has a key part to play in social mobility. Kelvinside (Glasgow) and Morningside (Edinburgh) are desirable and expensive residential areas. And for good reason.Peer pressure? Access to a “good” school? Local facilities? Opportunities to socialise at home? Housing, education and social class are all bound up together.More Choices More ChancesIt is estimated that in Scotland there are around 35,000 “NEETS” . The UK Government still uses the term, but the Scottish Government prefers to speak of More choices, More Chances.Government research suggests that each new NEET dropping out of education at 16 will cost taxpayers an average of £97,000 during their lifetime. These figures include the costs of benefits, lost tax revenue, the extra cost of health and medical services, and the costs of their criminal activity. The Hunter Foundation was established in 1998 by Tom and Marion Hunter. The Foundation's focus is on investment in national educational programmes that, as described on its website, 'challenge stubborn, system wide issues that prevent children from achieving their potential'.The rich get richerWhile incomes and living standards for all Britons have grown in recent years, inequality between the classes has grown too. The top 10% of individuals in the UK now receive 40% of all personal income. The top 0.1% get 4.3% of all income - the highest figure in the UK since the 1930s, and three times as much as they received as a share of income in 1979. The UK is becoming a more divided and fragmented society.Emmanuel Adebayor Manhester City. He is believed to earn £170,000 per week.Simon Cowell earned £40 million (or thereabouts) in 2009.Sir Fred Goodwin got a £2.7m pay off from the Government for resigning as head of RBS.But poverty is a way of life for manyThe JRF estimates that that child poverty will fall from 2.9 million to 2.3 million by 2010 – 600,000 short of the Government’s target. To meet its target for 2010, according to the JRF, the Government would have to invest an estimated £4.2 billion a year in benefits and tax credits above its present plans. The allocation of an additional £2 billion since 2006 has been offset by an unexpected rise in child poverty between 2004 and 2007 and the increased costs of the recession. Overall, in 2009, there were 11 million people living in relative poverty in the UK, a figure that has gone up by 300,000 since 2006.By 2020, without new policies to help low-income families, child poverty is projected to rise to 3.1 million. Government misses child poverty targetIs there social mobility in the UK?But his former colleague Alan Milburn’s 2009 research shows that we still have a “closed shop” society.Fair Access?“I believe that together we can create a Britain where individuals can rise as far as their talents can take them, and where the talents of each of us then contribute to the well being of all.”Gordon Brown, June 2007“It is the unholy alliance between home ownership and education policies that has done most to reduce the diversity of young people’s networks.The less well-off are ghettoised in enclaves of deprivation, with schools to which their near neighbours in more affluent catchments would not dream of sending their children”.Anna Minton, author of “Ground Control”
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