Our reaction to the BBC Lab UK’s Great British class calculator
Yesterday, Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with talk of a new class calculator created by the BBC Lab UK and a pair of academics that claimed it could grade the position of each and every one of us in society.
Gone, they say, are the 20th century definitions of working, middle and upper classes and the restrictive Downton Abbey type pigeonholing of individuals by birth and social standing. In their place, modern Britons, they suggest, are identifiable by an astonishing seven categories that range from the “elite” to the “precariat”.
The questions in this test seem flawed as the results they produce are heavily weighted around such things as home ownership and incomes. They ignore other important factors such as where individuals fit with those around them and the inherent advantages and disadvantages one is born with.
John Prescott, once the doyen of the working classes, announced: “We’re all middle class now” in 1997. He was met with derision but he was in fact right.
Such things as the coverage of the case of Mick and Mairead Philpott, jailed today for killing their six children, are illustrative of the divides in our society. As consumer goods have become cheaper and education has become more accessible, the working classes and the upper classes have morphed and merged into the middle. Yes, indeed, there is a wealthy elite in financial terms but their money does not buy them class. Equally, people like the Philpotts will always be the deadbeats of society and sadly there are many other decent individuals who will struggle on the breadline.
There are, in fact, really only two classes now: the middle class and the underclass.
Try the BBC’s Great British class calculator at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22000973