For an in-depth look at the social classifications used by research and marketing companies, see businessballs.com.
Here is the simplest breakdown:
A upper middle class higher managerial, administrative or professional (4% of the population)
B middle class intermediate managerial, administrative or professional (21.9%)
C1 lower middle class supervisory or clerical, junior managerial, administrative or professional (29%)
C2 skilled working class skilled manual workers (20.7%)
D working class semi and unskilled manual workers (16.2%)
E those at lowest level of subsistence (8.1%)
At the top of the tree are aristocrats and millionaires, but there are so few of them that they don’t appear in the rankings. Most people are C1 or C2. The upper middle class is the smallest, but its members make the most noise – they are the ones who end up working in the media.
The girl I overheard on the bus saying: “We’ve got a five-year plan: we’re going to go to America, earn some money, come back, buy a house, have kids” was lower middle: C1.
The girl who said “She’s going to put on the wedding invitations ‘dress code, Royal As-cott’” was C2.
In Jilly Cooper’s book Class, she picked representatives from each group and gave them suitable names. The aristocrats are Caroline and Harry Stow-Crat, the upper middles Samantha and Gideon Upward (with their daughter Thalia and son Zacharias), the lower middles are Jen and Bryan Teale (parents of Christine), the nouveau riches are the Nouveau Richards, and the working classes are Mr and Mrs Definitely-Disgusting, with their children Sharon and Dave. These names are her copyright, and I am using them as a tribute until I can think of my own (I hope that’s OK with her lawyers).