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Social class groupings

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Presentation
title groupings
Social class
Social class groupings
Joan Garrod
Fotolia
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
In the 1950s, social classes in Britain tended to be thought of
as falling into three main groups, based on the occupation of
the main (usually male) breadwinner.
These were the upper, middle and working classes. Their
proportions in the population could be represented by a
pyramid shape.
Upper class
Middle class
Working class
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
Other classifications
Other, more refined classifications, were developed by the Registrar
General.
One of the most recent classifications used by the government and
other agencies is the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification,
or NS-SEC.
This uses three different scales, but the one most commonly used has
eight groupings.
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The NS-SEC scale
1. Higher managerial and professional occupations.
2. Lower managerial and professional occupations.
3. Intermediate occupations (clerical, sales, service)
4. Small employers and own-account workers.
5. Lower supervisory and technical occupations.
6. Semi-routine occupations.
7. Routine occupations.
8. Never worked or long-term unemployed.
Question: Why is occupation thought to be so important in the definition of social
class?
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
NRS social grade
The NRS was first used to profile the readers of newspapers (NRS = National
Readership Survey), but is increasingly used by a wide range of groups to classify
people. It has six groupings:
A
Upper middle class
B
Middle class
C1
Lower middle class
C2
Skilled working class
D
Working class
E
Non-working (unemployed, pensioners, students)
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The Great British Class Survey
In April 2013 the BBC published the results of a large-scale survey designed to
update our knowledge of the UK class structure. Two sociologists played leading
roles in the research. They were:
•
Professor Fiona Devine of Manchester University
•
Professor Mike Savage of the London School of Economics
The findings received considerable media coverage.
Fotolia
Two sets of data were used in the analysis.
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The research
A BBC project launched in January 2011 asked people to complete a 20-minute
online survey. This asked questions on occupation, geographical location, education,
cultural tastes and interests, and the occupations of people the respondents knew.
A total of 161,458 people completed the survey. Analysis showed, however, that
these were predominantly drawn from well-educated social groups.
To overcome this, a second identical survey was carried out by a survey company
focusing on a sample of people representative of the population of the UK as a
whole.
The data from both surveys were used in parallel.
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The influence of Pierre Bourdieu
Mike Savage and Fiona Devine wanted to develop a new, more
sophisticated approach to the analysis of social class. In this they
were influenced by the French sociologist Bourdieu, who argued that
social class had three dimensions:
•
Economic capital
•
Social capital
•
Cultural capital
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The three dimensions of class
The survey questions were designed to measure all three forms of social capital, to
see how they contribute to a person’s overall class.
•Economic capital – income, savings, house value
•Social capital – the number and status of people one knows
•Cultural capital – the extent and nature of cultural interests and activities
Questions:
1.What possible problems can you identify with online surveys?
2.Can you think of any problems with the way the three types of capital were
identified and measured?
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The results
Analysis of the two sets of data resulted in a new model of class with seven
groupings. These are:
The elite – the most privileged group in the UK, distinct from the other six classes
through its wealth. Has the highest levels of all three capitals.
Established middle class – the largest and most gregarious group, and the second
wealthiest. Scores highly on all three capitals.
Technical middle class – a small, distinctive new class group which is prosperous
but scores low for social and cultural capital.
New affluent workers – a young group which is socially and culturally active, with
middling levels of economic capital.
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The results
Traditional working class – scores low on all forms of capital, though not
completely deprived, as its members have reasonably high house values.
Emergent service workers – a new, young, urban group which is relatively poor
but has high social and cultural capital.
The precariat (or precarious proletariat) – the poorest and most deprived class,
scoring low for social and cultural capital.
The researchers say that the new affluent workers and emergent service workers
appear to be the children of the �traditional working class, which has been
fragmented by de-industrialisation, mass unemployment, immigration and the
restructuring of urban space.
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The new class groups
Class group
% of population
Average age
6
57
25
46
Technical middle class
6
52
New affluent workers
15
44
Traditional working class
14
66
Emergent service workers
19
34
Precariat
15
50
Elite
Established middle class
Presentation
title groupings
Social class
The Great British Class Survey:
conclusions
While this is undoubtedly an interesting and significant piece of work,
it has not been without its critics.
SociologyReviewExtras Vol. 23, No. 3 will look at some of these
criticisms.
In the meantime, you should learn the names of the new groups and
also be able to discuss the methods by which the data were obtained.
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