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How are social classes defined?
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New class structure in modern Britain is dependent on both social and economic capital

Different facets work in tandem to create a person's class identity. One aspect of social capital does cannot be championed as the sole reason for defining a certain social class - this is too prescriptive.
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The Argument

A survey by the BBC reveals that there are now 7 social classes in Britain. Data from over 161,000 participants was analysed and published by sociologists in the SAGE Sociology Journal. This new model offers 'an up-to-date multi-dimensional model of social class.'[1] The BBC asked a variety of questions, both about 'income, house value, savings,' but also regarding 'cultural and leisure activities and the occupations of friends.'[1] Previously prescriptive theories around social class, such as Marxism or the Erikson–Goldthorpe–Portocarero (EGP) model, defined class purely by economic income or employment status. However, this survey sought to champion the importance of cultural capital. Participants were scored on six variables: mean status scores of contacts, total number of contacts, highbrow cultural capital, emerging cultural capital, income and assets.[2] Analysis of the results showed an emergence of 7 distinct social classes: "Elite - the most privileged group in the UK, distinct from the other six classes through its wealth. This group has the highest levels of all three capitals Established middle class - the second wealthiest, scoring highly on all three capitals. The largest and most gregarious group, scoring second highest for cultural capital Technical middle class - a small, distinctive new class group which is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital. Distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy New affluent workers - a young class group which is socially and culturally active, with middling levels of economic capital Traditional working class - scores low on all forms of capital, but is not completely deprived. Its members have reasonably high house values, explained by this group having the oldest average age at 66 Emergent service workers - a new, young, urban group which is relatively poor but has high social and cultural capital Precariat, or precarious proletariat - the poorest, most deprived class, scoring low for social and cultural capital"[1] The results show that, despite the prominence of economic capital, other facets of social identity - such as contacts, highbrow cultural tastes - have changed the way we define ourselves and our social class. While the typical elite and traditional working classes still remain, the increase in technology and social media allow for lower income service workers to develop high-status social contacts and refined cultural tastes. The de-industrialization of the working world shows us that younger generations are moving away from the polarized 'worker/elite' class relationship. The different social, economic, and cultural capitals work in tandem to define an individual's class identity, rather than one aspect championing, as most traditional sociological models might argue.

Counter arguments



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 at 11:18 UTC