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Are We All Middle Class

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Name: | Martin Broom | Degree programme: | BSc Social Sciences | Year of study: | Year One | Module code: | SO326 | Module name: | Introduction to Contemporary Britain | Module leader: | Dr Mark Hurst | Seminar leader: | Dr Mark Hurst | Assignment title: | Are we all middle class? | Word count: | 2000 |

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Assignment title: Are we all middle class?

Middle class on the whole is too broad a subject to look at, so how would you be best at approaching the subject of class? To try to understand the core subject one would be best to look at a set time of change said in the post-war era of 1945-2000. The argument of social classes has been debated to include that of intelligence and wealth for decades in differing fashions. This essay will look at the concept that social mobility really has not changed owing to the idea that not everyone will achieve middle class status, even in modern terms.
To assure yourself the higher ground you need a few key indicators for social acceptability, one is that of knowing people in higher ranking jobs, two is the fact that of economic abilities to function with the said others. There is little to do with just owning your own property on its own. Although it may mean that you have money, but without the connections to climb the proverbial, ‘social ladder’, you tend to stay where you are in the hierarchical sphere of life itself.
Education has been debated, and Acts of parliament have been added to the question, is it found to be of high significance in attaining middle class status, or could it be that the level of education one needs to achieve this has to be of high importance to both the parent and child. For instance if the child sees that the school is not for them, then the parent may not put that much emphasis on that child, owing to have more than one child for example. Then the children become severely malnourished in the educational field, additionally hampers the child’s progress in attaining a relatively well paid job in the future. Before the introduction of the (Education Act of 1944), introduced by Butler, there was a stark fact that before, relatively few children received enough education to sustain any work above that of working class. Carnevali and Strange stated in their book. 20th Century Britain, Economic, Cultural and Social Change, that in 1938, ‘88 percent of children educated in the maintained sector in England and Wales were still being taught in elementary schools and very few achieved formal qualifications or had any real opportunity to remain in education beyond 14’. (Carnevali, 2007, p. 354). Inevitably showing that the primary purpose of the (1944 Education Act) was brought about by way of detailing compulsory attendance and so forth. It also gave rise to court proceedings within the line of care and protection for the child in order to continuance of schooling. If a parent were imprisoned, these children inevitably will lose out in the job’s market as most employers would not want the child of a criminal. By the time the (1967 Education Act) had been enacted, more of the recommendations were aimed at the child, in Chapter 5 of the Act, section 174, the point was made of looking at the children who were deprived by their home life. It follows the point then that if indeed all people are middle class, why are they living in destitution from the outset.
In their study, Why are English secondary schools socially segregated? Coldron, Cripps and Shipton, point to another viewpoint when stating that, between the years of 1965-1981, the emphasis was of that on comprehensive schools. It states ‘From 1965-1981 the proportion of 11- to 16- year olds in comprehensive schools rose from approximately 8% to 83%’. (Coldron, 2010, p. 21). Showing a vast increase in state run schools, in the period; it also gives an alarming viewpoint of segregation by secondary schools too when stating, ‘5% (164) of secondary schools continue to select all of their intake by attainment’. (Coldron, 2010, p. 21). This furthers the idea that not all will attain a firm grounded education, and some may be not given the right opportunities to even climb just one run on the ladder to success. They go further with this idea when mentioning grammar schools, stating ‘The proximate cause of segregation here is the greater education and wealth of middle class parents combined with a greater motivation arising from the fear of downward mobility’. (Coldron, 2010, p. 30). This greater desire on middle class parents to want to keep their own status in life, mainly leaves the other children in secondary moderns disproportionately floundering. The parents of these children cannot compete with the parents who fund their child’s education, also of note here is the grammar schools themselves can in theory recruit from a vast stock of higher educated teachers. Social mobility for these children is hindered from the start this difference is also met when the child then gets a career, which arguably will not be as better paid as their grammar educated compatriots.
One other problem that arises from looking at school problems and that of class distinction is the apparent problem of gender identities too. This is referring to the problems experienced by lesbian, gay and bi-sexual children. The class issue here being segregation, playground bullying and taunts. Although sex education had been part of the curriculum, either through lack of understanding and that of promoting a mainly heterosexual outlook on sex education, these children were left to fend for themselves. Yvette Taylor in her article entitled Intersections of class and sexuality in the classroom, states, ‘Such regulation applied to both sexual and classed expectations where, instead of imparting knowledge and offering ‘protection’, many experienced varied invalidations, confusions and uncertainties within schools as a result of who they were’. (Taylor, 2006, p. 449). Taylor goes on to discuss in length the re-percussions of being different, talking about lesbians as a whole. While discussing their problems two Scottish lesbians of working class felt that the whole system had let them down, this was furthered by Taylor when noting that even though the age group looked at, which was 16-64 years, nothing really had changed to protect innocent and vulnerable children all the way through the post-war period up to 1998. Although this study related to lesbians, the point could be made of gay boys too. Taylor points to another factor for these young girls, that of being removed from the school, she states, ‘Their families often lacked the requisite cultural and economic capitals to challenge their exclusions from school’. (Taylor, 2006, p. 451). Also Taylor points to the fact that some of the girls feared that if they told their parents that they were lesbians then they invariably would lose face with their own families.
Having looked extensively at education, this brings us to the point about wealth and how this correlates with the problem of education. To relate, is to argue that poverty is still prevalent today, if that is the case is the key argument for we are all middle class goes out of the question. Poverty is an unambiguous question when compared to what people really have and what they achieve is their middle class ness, having property is not the answer to this. How do we hold this argument up, within the modern ethos we are all alike. One journal article argues this point about ownership of housing and that of being middle class. It states, ‘drawing upon a range of secondary analyses of official data sources, has suggested that at least one-half all households living in poverty are home-owners’. (Burrows, 2003, p. 1224). If this is the state of play for assuming that we are all middle class because we own our own property, then one could argue what types of food these people eat. Studies on consumption rarely get a look in when discussing poverty with that of middle class ness. To have sufficient food on the table should be the primary factor in all human’s lives, this being to aid healthy living and longevity of life.
Breadline studies have become increasingly needed in the concept of general poverty lines and that of social acceptability. In the journal article Poverty and place in Britain, 1968-1999, it states, ‘The ‘rediscovery’ of poverty from the 1960s onwards, associated with the work of Townsend (1974, 1979) and others, reflects the now widely acceptable ‘relative deprivation’ understanding of poverty’. (Fahmy, 2011, p. 595). The article goes on to analyse in depth consumption patterns related to a breadline approach, meaning what one would normally expect to have. The figures are alarming, they show Britain in mapped out areas having more impoverished people in the latter part toward 1999, they found that by, 2001, 50% of Britain’s live below the breadline threshold. This is further evidence that the differing ideas on ‘we are all middle class now?’ fall short of the fact that to live comfortably in the notion that we are, then everyone would all have the same means at hand. The evidence however suggests not.
In conclusion, ever since the introduction of the Elizabethan Poor Law in 1601, there has been an abstract issue with those who fall below the breadline and what to do to better these people's lot in life. As seen in modern terms this still affects a vast proportion of people in Britain today. In this instance poverty has not been that far away for so many reasons. Those that have wanted more, those that try, never really succeed owing to a lack of social mobility, those that do succeed never really make it all the way to the top. Therefore in one’s own perception to answer the question, ‘Are we all middle class now?’ Can be answered owing to the point we obviously are not. To label a house as middle class ness is not really wealth, plus that not all achieve a good education also has its drawbacks. Marx argued the fact that society keeps certain people at the top and the rest underneath them that is a statement of fact. Having a fridge, telephone, computer, washing machine and all other necessities in modern life does not make one middle class. Nor does the idea that owning your own property and scrapping by, if your child is malnourished in the pursuit of trying to own your own home, one is invariably depriving the child of what is needed to sustain a happy, balanced life. Then maybe, they may achieve a better standard of education, plus the opportunities needed to succeed on their own. There is one other drawback with education that whereby all become over qualified, this has a twofold problem, one being too many people applying to get the same job. The second being, if you live with someone of high-ranking status in society, you will inevitably get the job. Depriving certain individuals and elevates those already at the top. That is not the middle class dream, most people hunt.

Burrows, R., 2003. How the other Half Lives: An Exploratory Analysis of the Relationship between Poverty and Home-ownership in Britain. Urban Studies, 40(7), pp. 1223-1242.
Carnevali, F. S. J.-M., 2007. 20th Century Britain, Economic, Cultural and Social Change. 2 ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
Coldron, J. C. C. S. L., 2010. Why are English secondary schools socially segregated?. Journal of Educational Policy, 25(1), pp. 19-35.
Fahmy, E. G. D. D. D. R. J. W. B., 2011. Poverty and place in Britain, 1968-99. Environmental and planning, Volume 43, pp. 594-617.
Taylor, Y., 2006. Intersections of class and sexuality in the classroom. Gender and Education, 18(4), pp. 447-452.
1944 Education Act,, This Education Act was read, plus is mentioned in the text, only cited as 1944 Education Act.
1967 Education Act,, This part of the Education Act was read, plus mentioned in the text, only cited as 1967 Education Act.…...

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