That’s because the results of the BBC’s The Great British Class Survey were published this week – a study headed by Mike Savage (LSE) and Fiona Devine (University of Manchester) and with the help of BBC Lab UK which asked 161,000 people in Great Britain a series of questions about money, culture, property and relationships.
You can take the test now and see which of the seven categories you fit into: upper, middle and working class just doesn’t cut it anymore in describing our class-obsessed country. The new classes, in order, are as follows: elite, established middle class, technical middle class, new affluent workers, traditional working class, emergent service workers, precariat.
I’m an emergent service worker which means I’m young (average age of 34), enjoy a cultured social life and rent in inexpensive parts of large cities. So financially insecure but these sexy chrysalis kids socialise with a broad range of people, use social media and go to gigs. Tick tick tick boom.
So as you can tell I was pretty happy with my score – at least I wasn’t in the bottom group, the “Precariat” and I’m fairly used to wearing my lack of savings or property as a badge anyway. Then again, it looks pretty unlikely I’m ever to join the exclusive elite who were most likely privately educated, own their own home and score highest for economic, social and cultural capital.
Take the test and let us know how you feel about your new class below in the comments. To read more about the results, check out the BBC news story and if you have a spare couple of hours, read the full PDF of the findings published in the journal Sociology.
In the April issue of Elle magazine, Dr Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How To Make The Most of Them Now, argues that your twenties are a decade to be taken seriously and in which you should be building up “identity capital”. That doesn’t mean getting drunk, playing video games and lazing around with the same five people every weekend.
Jay’s advice can seem a little narrow-minded i.e. that we all should be picking families in our twenties. The seven groups identified in The Great British Class Survey span different age groups but it’s clear that society needs homeowners and free spirits, couples and singletons, travellers and office bods, hoarders and spenders. What’s right for someone with no economic capital but cultural capital in spades might not be right for the twenty something with plenty of savings but nothing like an advanced degree or work experience abroad.
Part of The Great British Class Survey ask which occupations you socialise with and awards brownie points for those who know just as many scientists and solicitors as they do farmers and lorry drivers. This accidental networking is always something I’ve had to do as a journalist – call in a favour from someone who is not a close friend – but as Jay recommends, knowing the strength of these weak ties is great for meeting new people and hearing about new job or collaboration opportunities.
Just think how much quicker you can track down a new flatmate, fundraise, sell your laptop or promote an event once your friends have posted it on Facebook and Twitter to everyone they know.
It means you don’t have to attend a hideous networking event with sweaty palms and name badges – looks like it’s just as crucial to get chatting to your binman.