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Logic has never been Nesrine’s strong point, has it?

Research conducted by the LSE last year looked into why almost half of people in middle-class professional jobs identified themselves as working class, even when a quarter of them had parents who had done similar jobs. The study identified a “grandparent effect”, by which people from privileged backgrounds over-emphasised the working-class credentials of extended family members, even though they have little impact on an individual’s life chances.

Right, so it’s the nuclear family that matters to education, wealth, how you get on then.

It took me a while living in this country to figure out what was going on. It wasn’t class oversharing, but class discounting – a way for people to establish that their status, whatever it was, was earned and not bequeathed. Britain is a country of enormous wealth, much of it inherited. In fact, inherited family wealth is fast becoming, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the most important determinant of how well-off a person will be later in life. Britain is also a place where the alumni of a small number of expensive schools and exclusive universities hold a wildly disproportionate share of the nation’s power, wealth and top jobs.

But if it’s the nuclear family that matters, not the wider one, then that’s not a class is it?

Class means nepotism and all that – exactly the thing she’s just insisted doesn’t matter.

Sigh.

Oh, and if we do want to think about class perhaps we could consider Hilary Benn? Third generation Cabinet member, fifth generation MP. Now, that’s class effects for you….

20 thoughts on “Logic has never been Nesrine’s strong point, has it?”

  1. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    What is the definition anyway?

    At some point the definition shifted from “person who works shifts in factory to makes things to drop on feet” to “person whose family’s standard of living would be severely negatively impacted by stopping work”.

    Most people in both classes are/were only just “making ends meet”, in the latter case largely because of expenditure rising to match income.

  2. Social mobility is a real thing – huzzah!

    I grew up with hand-me-downs and no heating. I didn’t go to Uni or inherit megabucks. I learned my profession on the job and in night school. My job now would certainly qualify as one of the “middle-class” jobs the author mentions.

    I worked for what I have and still need to work for a living – so I’m working class.

    Maybe my kids will be middle class, but I suppose that depends on how much I leave them!

  3. Bloke in the Fourth Reich said:
    “At some point the definition shifted from “person who works shifts in factory to makes things to drop on feet” to “person whose family’s standard of living would be severely negatively impacted by stopping work”.”

    There’s a 1970s book “The Decline and Fall of the Middle Class” that (from memory, I don’t have a copy to check) uses a definition of middle class that’s basically something like “not dependent on an employer to be able to live”. So that could be from having investments, or your own business, or a professional with multiple clients.

    Not what you do, but independence.

    Your definition, of someone who doesn’t “work shifts in factories” – if they don’t have that independence, in the old British system they’re “lower middle class” – which, despite the name, definitely wasn’t part of the middle class (does things that might look middle class, but lacks that independence).

    On that basis, most of the people they’re talking about actually aren’t middle class.

  4. But, but Hils is a SOCIALIST isn’t he? Like his Dad, I bet he fought tooth and nail not to inherit anything. Well, apart from…

  5. For the one in 10 UK adults born in the 1980s who will inherit from their parents more than half as much money as the average person earns in a lifetime, there is a constant need to pre-empt any impression that they are part of an entitled clique with the sort of money and connections that smooth their passage through life.

    Average lifetime earnings in the UK, according to ONS: £566,000

    Half the average lifetime earnings: £283,000

    She’s complaining that 1 in 10 thirty-and fortysomethings are set to inherit the value of a semi-detached ex-council house in Swindon when their Mum and Dad die.

    But sure, by Sudanese standards this is insanely wealthy and, to add insult to injury, our women still have functioning clitorises.

    Nesquik on Trussy:

    Nothing to do with the fact that she grew up in an expensive suburb of Leeds

    Leeds was probably quite nice before Diversity but idk if it’s really where top-hatted capitalist plutocrats and monocle-squinting aristocratic toffs hung out.

    It is a class disavowal that props up the entire corrosive myth of meritocracy – the belief in which enables and absolves cruel governance and mean citizenry.

    Britain is cruel and mean and she writes hate mail to the place every day in the Guardian, but no, she’s not interested in living amidst the vibrant smells of Sudan – why do you ask?

    rightwingers fetishise hard work and careful saving

    The bastards!

  6. Your are:

    – Working Class if you rent your home.

    – Middle Class if you buy your home.

    – Upper Class if you inherit your home.

    An old rough guide which still works today.

  7. “For the one in 10 UK adults born in the 1980s who will inherit from their parents more than half as much money as the average person earns in a lifetime”

    Someone born in the 1980s is likely to have parents born in the 50s or 60s. Could be another 20 or 30 years before they inherit anything.

    I’m surprised the complaint isn’t about those born in the 60s or 70s. Like me. Born 1962, Dad’s gone, leaving mum sat in a c£0.5m house (bought for £1,400 in 1960).

    Alas, I have two brothers and a sister.

  8. Every Guardian reader will tell you they hate the sort of Brit who goes to live in foreign and then moans about it, so why do they tolerate the reverse?

  9. @BFR: sorry to tell you, old chap, but by using “severely negatively impacted” you have earned a place on my to-be-assassinated list.

  10. The brightest and/or hardest working gain entry to the leading universities but it is terrible that some of them are thereafter employed to do the “top jobs” where those qualities are most important. No, absolutely no: top jobs must go to Guardianistas approved for ideological purity by other Guardianistas!

    Some of those in “professional jobs” think that they are working-class because they work, but probably some of the one-quarter who describe themselves as “working-class” despite one or more parent having a “professional” job do so because they are accustomed to the Grauniad, BBC, LSE etc waging hate campaigns against the “middle class” and so when approached by a LSE researcher decide not to advertise it.

  11. I see three classes. A working class. Those that work. Road sweepers to millionaires. A professional & administrative class that benefit from regulatory capture. The rich who don’t need to work. The question is where to put the scrounging class. In with the professionals & admin thanks to their benefiting from regulatory capture. Or in with the rich because other people’s wealth enables them not to need to work.

  12. For those who don’t think there is a Laffer Curve, I’ve grossed a little shy of £1.5M over the last 22 years (as far back as my records go). Paid close to the average lifetime earnings of £566k in tax and NI over the same period. Also maxed out the state pension allowance so my NI doesn’t even go towards that anymore (not that it actually does anyway).

    I’m working class and don’t feel rich because a set of feckwits have their mitts in my wallet extracted by menaces via HM Government. As soon as I get to 55 I’m stopping working and I’m buggered if I’m paying anything more than the bare minimum in tax afterwards.

  13. “At some point the definition shifted from ‘person who works shifts in factory to makes things to drop on feet’ to ‘person whose family’s standard of living would be severely negatively impacted by stopping work’.”

    The latter definition is the older one. Back in the feudal era, there was a working class, who had to work for a living, and the landed gentry, who lived off the proceeds of property. As RichardT alludes to, the middle class arose with people who did both at the same time.

    John B: So right now I’m “upper class” (and skint), and in six months or so I’ll be “working class” (and less so). Hmm. (Yes, I know it’s a rough guide and, joking aside, actually it fits rather well with what I said above. The middle class works for a living, but also owns heritable property.)

    Why do people claim to be “working class” who clearly aren’t? Same reason they did in Soviet Russia, but without the fear of imminent death. Old Money is bad, m’kay? So it pays to pretend you don’t have any.

  14. “The latter definition is the older one. Back in the feudal era, there was a working class, who had to work for a living, and the landed gentry, who lived off the proceeds of property. As RichardT alludes to, the middle class arose with people who did both at the same time.”
    That’s really the yeoman class. Middle class has its origins in the guilds & merchants. Their assets were information.

  15. @ bis
    The yeomen were the free farmers. In the feudal era there was clergy, nobility, landowners who controlled serfs, free men and serfs, but also townsfolk who were excluded from the feudal system which involved land.
    I think I agree with you but it is difficult to be certain when you a referring to someone referring to someone else since language lacks the precision of mathematics.

  16. BiS: Yeah, as soon as I posted that I thought, “I should have said something more like, ‘Coming out of the feudal era…;”. And you’re absolutely right about the merchant class. That’s who I was thinking of. They had to work to maintain their standard of living – they couldn’t simply sit back and let the rents roll in – but they did own property.

  17. @ philip

    Not medical doctor (I’d have earned far more than this) but IT. Not been a bad career choice as far as earnings go.

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