Saturday 16 June 2018

Class is Dead, Long Live Class 3

Class is dead? Only if you redefine class as something that happens to be dead.

Writer Sophie Hannah says that when people learn she comes from Manchester they assume she comes from a “deprived” background. She has had to tell people: "My parents went to Oxford University, actually, and we all drink Earl Grey tea."
Those people were well read and well travelled; they loved meeting people from other cultures and countries. They prided themselves on their curiosity about the world around them.
 (Kerry Hudson,, on nice, educated people who recycle – but sneer at chavs.)

The rich accumulate wealth not just in the form of money but in enjoyment of the suffering of others. (@theseantcollins)

It was a curious social pattern, looking back. It was snobbish, I suppose; on the other hand, a certain type of snobbishness was much looked down upon. People who introduced the aristocracy into their conversation too frequently were disapproved of and laughed at. Three phases have succeeded each other during the span of my life. In the first the questions would be: ‘But who is she, dear? Who are her people? Is she one of the Yorkshire Twiddledos? Of course, they are badly off, very badly off, but she was a Wilmot.’ This was to be succeeded in due course by: ‘Oh yes, of course they are pretty dreadful, but then they are terribly rich.’ ‘Have the people who have taken The Larches got money?’ ‘Oh well, then we’d better call.’ The third phase was different again: ‘Well, dear, but are they amusing?’ ‘Yes, well of course they are not well off, and nobody knows where they came from, but they are very very amusing.’ (Agatha Christie, An Autobiography)

Our behaviour is also still a giveaway: lab studies show that working-class people are more likely to employ eye-contact, laughter and head nods when interacting with others, compared to a more disengaged non-verbal style from the middle/upper classes. And class can be read at greater than chance levels even from stimuli as basic as Facebook photographs or seven words of speech. So we feel a certain class, and others can detect that class fairly easily... Working-class people are more likely to consider the world as a mass of forces and risks to contend with and accommodate... Meanwhile, middle/upper-class people are more motivated by internal states and personal goals... The issue is how they should shape the world, not how it pushes back on them. This is indicated by a higher sense of perceived control, and more confidence that good things happen to people due to their choices... University deans and administrators asked to list qualities of their culture tended to endorse words more about independence – the natural state of the solipsistic upper-class person, charting their course into the future – than interdependence, which tends to be a particular priority for first-generation university goers, looking to give back to their community. (BPS Digest)

You could tell what class a person was by the way they smoked their cigarettes. Lower classes kept the ciggy stuck on their lips while they were talking. (imdb)

Taxpayers Alliance/IEA Tory fringe meeting on helping the young: Biggest clap for 29-yr-old in audience saying young folk can’t buy houses cos they are too “entitled” and waste £ on “fake tans”, football “season tickets” and out twice/week drinking “10 pints”. (Solomon Hughes‏ @SolHughesWriter)

Samantha Upward is vainly looking for “reality” in the cracks between Youtube and McDonalds. “Why do I have to know what a McDonald’s is?” wails a London Review of Books contributor.

Both Upwards and Weybridges feel that correcting facts is bad manners. This enables them to believe any old rubbish.

A friend of a friend moved to Marlow. A rather grand chum wailed: "Marlow? But there'll be nobody there you could be friends with!"

An obituary of writer Sue Margolis describes her parents: “Donald Wener, a dapper, moustachioed RAF man turned civil servant, and Audrey (nee Dixon), a nurse turned bank clerk”, and ascribes her success despite being bottom of the class as a child to the “aspirational ethos of the lower-middle-class culture of Gants Hill.” 

150 years ago, the landed gentry were the ruling class. They lost their power, but we still somehow feel that they are the best people who lead perfect lives that we should imitate. They may not run the country – to such an extent – any more, but we think they are superior to us.

Writer Jilly Cooper nailed the class system in the 70s – but she didn't get everything right. She claimed that Social Class D are inarticulate. Perhaps she’d never met any Cockneys or Irish people or Welshmen or Liverpudlians or…

More here, and links to the rest.

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