Class identites

Focus on class identites

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Features of Working class culture

1) jobs were based in manual unskilled labour. Coal and ship mining. Dominated employment opportunities, by Northan cities.

2) Tradditional gender roles, male breadwinner and provider. Female career for husband and children. homemaker

3) Boys encouraged to follow father or male role model in their family. Follow their employment patterns

4) strong communities- unity, solidarity and togetherness. Supportive of eachother and looked after one another. they were thir own kind, distrusted outsiders.

5) strong links with labour party- trade unions protecting their workers rights. 'them and us' attitude

6)Live for the momement, immediate gratification. less likely to save for future

7) housing in cheaper areas, rent counsil houses, less desirable areas. homes owned by factories. close to place of work

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Changing in working class cultures

1) lives more privitised, home based, less community centered

2) employment based in servise secot- offices

3) more shared responsibilites in the home

4) increasing affluence with more mone to spend on choice of consumer goods

5) rise in the number of home owners and people are socially mobile with aspirations

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Reasons for change

1) decline of heavy industires (coal), limits employment opportunites

2) Decline of manafacturing industry- shipped over seas

3) Growth of service sector, more non-manual jobs associated with MC

4) changin educational opportunites, encourage education to 18 and further to UNI with student loads

5) improved educational opportunites for girls

6) social change- more freedom and individualism, pressure to follow parents footsteps. 

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Skeggs 1997

Studied life of WC women in the Midlands.

they were on a caring proffession course for further education

The women tried to distance themselves from tradditional WC norms and values

They wanted to be seen as respectable by having a career, owning their own home and dressing appropriately.

They dissicociated themselves from other WC women.

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Marx and class

Social class due to economic position in the 'means of production'

Marxist saw two main social classes:

Bourgeoisie- Rich upper, elite class. Owned the 'means of production', key to economic success was owning a factory or business. Profit come to them.

Proletariat- they worked for the bourgeoisie. paid low wages and no prospect of promotion or proggression. Wage slaves. 

Clear economic division.

Marx- claimed the proletariat would become aware  theyre being exploited, and develop a class conciousness and there would be a revolution and they would overthrow bourgeoisie. But only when economic conditions right. 

Conflict between rich and poor- basis of economic differences

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Bourdieu and Capital

1) Economic capital- income, wealth, inheritance. Ascribed or achieved. Social classes with most economic capital are those with higher paid jobs or lots of inherited wealth.

2) Cultural capital- cultural attributes related to english. Knowledge of classical art, music, literature. Passed down generations. Difficult to buy or achieve. Gain from family and education schooling.

3) Social capital-  resources based on social connections and group membership. Generated through networking through relationship with different people. Achieved. and demonstrated differently according to class. Traditional working class-  exchange services such as plumbing for fixing a car, look out for each others interests. Higher classes- operates through educational institutions, looking after interests of each others children

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Marxist views on class

Capitalist societies contain two main social calss divided on bases of their economic position

the Bourgeoisie- rich own and control the ''means of production" 

the proletariat- workers are exploited and oppressed

the proletariat will develop a class consciousness and a revelution will overthrow the bourgeoisie

following the revolution the societies will become communist ideals of equality

Neo marxists aruge that economics and culture play a role in explaining social class divisions

Pierre Bourdieu uses concepts of different types of capital to explain social class divisions.

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Postmodern views of class

Social classes are fragmented and split up or at least changing. No longer clear where the boundries are

Fragmentation is consequence of - Globilisation

New international groups of workers migrate to UK and change the tradditional class structures.

Newer cheaper workers (migrants) come over and the WC loose their jobs

Blurring of old class boundries due to growth of consumer culture

Makes it easy to pick and choose own identities based on what they consume.

Based on conspicuous consumption and lifestyle choices.

Higher wages mean more disposable income- live life they want

Lyon- society is consumer society. Expansion of popular culture. pick and mix

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Middle class

Who they really are?

Proffessions associated with doctors and teachers. high levels of educational achievement. cultural capital. 

White collar or non-manual jobs in proffessional or managerial

high levels of social mobility, mc aspiring to move up the ladder

strong networks and connections to people in other mc proffessions

defferred gratification- saved hard reap benifits later

educational achievment and UNI degree

own homes in a desirable place

cultural capital- foreign holidays and an appreciation of high culture

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Blurring of class

Distinction is becoming blurred- no longer see the dividing line. 

rise in call center culture, expansion of the administrative office-based jobs

opportunites in education rise- MC has split into two groups (Savage 1992)

based on lifestyle and emplyment.

Wynne 1998- studied middle class housing in cheshire and found they possed economoc, cultural and social capital. Very different to the manual culture found in cheadle.

Devine 2005- interviews with sample of doctors and teachers.both classed as MC but they didnt refer to the class in interviews. might not want to label because fear of being percieved as superior to others.

Mc- associated with statues, possition and is an exlusive label to seek group membership. people strive for it.

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Summary of MC

Tradditional MC was based on proffessionalism, educational qualifications and cultural capital.

Changing nature of employment mean more jobs are non manual, which changes the structure of middle class

there has been a blurring of middle class and working class cultures

number of different middle class lifestyles and visible to different types of emplyment 

Very difficult to define middle class culture and is likely that a number of different middle class lifestyles exist. 

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Upper class culture and identity

smaller group

coherant and solid- not keen on letting outsiders in 'socially closed'

difficult to research

Aristocracy- born into wealth and titles.

rich familes who own vast estates and make money out of owning land

intermarriage- people from same social backgrounds

increases with social capital

value tradditon and hierarchy and order

national heritage of country- cultural capital and economic capital

dont show wealth- Royle family

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Super rich

achieved their wealth and status often through fame

hard work and merit

economic capital-earns

glamourous lifestyle

use media to their advantage

value material goods, brand names, lebels and live in a visiably rich lifestyle.

networking with others with same economic position


Upper class based on either inherited wealth and ascribed status or acheivement, merit or good fortune (lotterey)

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Objective and subjective class identity

Objective- people can be places in a social class through a measureing device. National statisticas socioeconomic classification. puts people in their class due to occupation

Subjective social class- what people think themselves, where they place themselves and define themselves. could be based on occupation but more likely on other factors, housing, parents, education, consumption and patterns

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