Is being classy related to class system?

Apr 14, 2013

The BBC recently released a modern class calculator for 2013. Actually it was about two weeks ago now but with imminent armageddon coming out of North Korea dominating the BBC I’ve been too worried sick to actually sit down and give it a go. If you're insecure enough to care where you sit in 2013's modern British class system, and 4.8 million people are apparently, you will find this calculator enlightening. The Daily Mail liked the idea so much they did their own, so there you go. 

The BBC's questions range from the expected class definers such as your annual income to the more obscure such as whether you enjoy doing arts and crafts (?) or have any mates who work in a call centre. You are then gerrymandered into a class. Apparently people can now belong to groups such as technical middle class and emergent service workers which I didn’t know existed until this morning.

The programme and data was mashed together by professors from the University of Somewhereshire, who have reputable sociology degrees, so it's totally reliable. Sort of. I found it bemusing and this wasn’t because I was slightly hurt when, with a mountain of student debt to my name, my result was predictably 'Precariat' which is another word for peasant. It’s hardly a step up from that famous Monty Python sketch that had a dig at the class stereotypes back in the 1960's. I have enough faith in the human race to maintain that class consciousness is really just a British social fabrication existing in the minds of opinionated bigots rather than anything material that should be used as a tool for measurement (but let’s try and keep this light). 

Some Brits still have a perpetual love affair with class. They treat class as it was valued a century ago; as if everyone is still defined by it. Believing it's not possible to manoeuvre up and down the ladder, and they harbour the anxiety that something you do or say in a room filled with people from a different class will expose you as a class deceiving charlatan. It lingers around in society like mild racism in a ninety year old relative: it's there but its old so don’t make a fuss about it.

When you dress yourself in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror don’t be preoccupied with the BBC's version of class. Those guidelines are shaky at best. Approach class with honesty. Being classy is nothing to do with the information you just supplied to their website: it's in the little things. There's a sense of preaching to the choir here. You're already on Monsieur London's Almanach Blog so you’ve taken that first key step in proving that you've got class.

Regardless, it’s a simple subject. For the busy man I've compressed all the essential information concerning modern British class to save you a few clicks. Do you enjoy niche sports involving horses? Does your family own two or more dining rooms and have a referable family tree hanging on the wall? Do you regularly grumble about the 'simply monstrous' heating bill you have to cover for your country home with the high ceilings? Congratulations: you're a member of the elite.

Do you wear badly fitting clothes, mostly second hand shirts, purely for the designer label? Do you watch rugby without really knowing all the rules? Are outdated copies of Good House Keeping strategically placed around the house in case one of the neighbours pops round unannounced? Guess what? You're middle class.

Do you genuinely not care about any of the above? Working class.

James Fredrick Gray

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