Talk:Social structure of the United Kingdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject United Kingdom (Rated C-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject United Kingdom, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the United Kingdom on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
 
WikiProject Sociology (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Sociology, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Sociology on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
 

Criticisms[edit]

The Jilly Coooper book "Class" is a comedy book and should not be referenced as a source of fact. Also, David Cameron is upper class, his wife is the daughter of a baronet.

I'm really surprised that this is as far as Wikipedia goes with social class in Britain. Am I looking in the wrong place? I am an American living in Britain, and I notice there are multiple pages dedicated to US class differences. But class divisions in the US are, in my opinion, negligible compared to those which exist so clearly in Britain. Is the absence of an article due to the fact that people would rather focus on US class differences or just because there is a smaller pool of people who can competently write on British social class?

I don't have time to write the article; otherwise I would. If anyone wants to take up the task, I recommend Watching the English by Kate Fox as a reference.

I find the article disappointing. The use of "et cetera" reads like an admission that the writer is unsure of his ground. The table is not of any one period, making it of little value - it mentions both villeins and baronets, though baronets only existed from 1611, by which time villeins no longer existed. It completely omits the large and important class of tenant farmers. The idea that "by the 17th century, the knight was a large land owner, and likely a lawyer, priest, or official of some sort" is ludicrous - if it made it clear whether it was referring to a man who rode a horse into battle or to someone holding the rank of knight, it might make sense, but the writer appears to have confused the two. Maproom (talk) 00:07, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

Coming across this article there's an awful lot of subtle snobbery throughout this article that breaks Wikipedia's NPOV. I'll create a proper account later and start editing later. As an opening observation, is it really fair to say that David Cameron is Upper Middle Class or to have examples of people that are comedy characters for the lower classes in this article where more serious figures are given as the examples for the higher classes? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.220.46.184 (talk) 07:18, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm not necessarily against it, but I have to say I love the person who added all the Jilly Cooper bits. Hilarious! -Tpacw (talk) 14:34, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

This article is dreadful on many counts, it needs serious work. Particualrly noticeable is he very clear coorelation between class and lenght of article -- the upperclassses get lengthy essays, the workign classes get a couple of sentences. 1Z (talk) 10:00, 15 July 2010 (UTC)


I agree. The article needs to focus more on what the different definitions of class are including academic definitions, government survey classes and popular representations e.g. there's only one system for each of the 20th and 21st century. The main article on social class has some good examples of this. The current section on Class Structure seems to be largely one person's opinion. It also needs to have more about how conceptions of class are changing and particularly academic debates v popular conceptions.

David Cameron would be a good example of someone who has self-defined as middle-class but would be seen by many people (and by many academic definitions) as upper class. Halon8 (talk) 14:49, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

David Cameron is not Upper Class because he works. He is upper middle class as he earns less than £200,000 a year and he works.151.230.133.20 (talk) 13:45, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Kate Middleton[edit]

Is it fair to say that Kate Middleton is a member of Nouveau riche, she did go to Marlborough College, her father also went to public school, Clifton college and she is a descendant of the rich old family the Luptons, the Middletons were respectable Leeds lawyers and she is 15th cousin of the Duke of Cambridge —Preceding unsigned comment added by 193.104.89.239 (talk) 10:03, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Britain or UK?[edit]

The article uses "Britain" and "UK" interchangeably - are the Northern Irish counted or not? EamonnPKeane (talk) 22:19, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

The Government of the UK decided that the terms Britain and British can be used to describe the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, whereas the term Great Britain can only be used in the geographical sense. As a result Britain and the UK are used correctly within the article 86.134.44.173 (talk) 16:14, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Do you (or anyone) have a citation for this? Jaruzel (talk) 12:21, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

"The Chavs"[edit]

Is "chav" really the most appropriate word for this context? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 131.111.8.97 (talk) 21:43, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Chav has nothing to do with class - it's like a Mosher, Goth, Emo.. etc.Drowz0r 80.42.174.81 (talk) 02:05, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Further to this, is the "underclass" really more likely to partake in controlled substances, the drug use is prevalent at University Campuses, and cocaine remains the designer drug of choice for journos and bankers. Lostsocks (talk) 18:09, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

Slavery[edit]

I'm wondering if, during all these hundreds of years, did anyone ever call this social structure system slavery? Does anyone know?Stars4change (talk) 05:38, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Headings[edit]

The formating for the Class headings aren't consisten. (See Upper Class & Upper Middle Class bigger & underlined, others not.) I'm new and not really done any page formatting yet, so won't do it myself yet. If no one else wants to, I'll come back and do it in a bit. Dannman (talk) 16:05, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

- I've done this 83.244.203.162 (talk) 09:41, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Is David Cameron upper middle class[edit]

Given that David Cameron is a fifth cousin of the queen and attended eton I would say he is of the upper class. Redface1 (talk) 20:45, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

David Cameron is upper middle class as I have stated above as he earns less than £200,000 a year and he works.151.230.133.20 (talk) 13:47, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Rugby at Eton[edit]

The article states that "paradoxically neither Eton nor Winchester College play Rugby" This fact is incorrect as a main sport at Eton during the first half is Rugby. I have changed the Eton inaccuracy, but am unsure about Winchester College, can anyone verify this claim? 86.134.44.173 (talk) 16:16, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

"Underclass"[edit]

This section is utterly *atrocious* in quality, and drags the whole article down. None of the statements are cited, and the use of the term "chav", as mentioned above, is rather out-of-place. The mention of the movie "Idiocracy" stands out as completely unnecessary. I'll try and tidy it up a bit, but someone more in-the-know on this subject than myself needs to come add in some properly sourced statements, and probably re-write the entire section. 86.28.149.134 (talk) 15:03, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

- Had a try at revising, but in the end just deleted all the unsourced statements. Removed the portrayals in popular culture as well - every one of them was a negative portrayal. Perhaps add one of them back in alongside a sympathetic, or at least neutral portrayal later? 86.28.149.134 (talk) 15:03, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

David Cameron[edit]

I've removed David Cameron as "a popular example of" the Upper Middle class. It's a matter of no small controversy- having caused many outraged headlines when he proclaimed it himself. Without citation, it's just asking for trouble. In my opinion, he fits in far better with Upper class by this article's own definitions: his grandfather was Sir William Mount, 2nd Baronet, his father in law is Sir Reginald Adrian Berkeley Sheffield, 8th Baronet, his mother in law is the Viscountess Astor, he was educated first at Eton College, then at Oxford University, he's the most powerful man in the country job-wise, is a multi-millionaire, and owns more personal housing and land than he can actually recount on demand. If we must have him in the Upper Middle class section, we're going to need some solid citation. 62.255.138.180 (talk) 10:30, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Note that Cameron is also a lineal descendant of King William IV. Strictly speaking, he is a member of the provincial gentry. Most of the writing in this article is historically illiterate (and seems to be based on a popular book written by a woman called Kate Fox). I have managed to improve it somewhat.Avaya1 (talk) 03:54, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Entire upper class article[edit]

This is a farce! Have the authors of this article ever met or seen the English nobility?

The worst piece of feeble-minded generalization I have ever come across. This borders on vandalism from the start - the final bit with Kate Fox references is utterly foolish and represents the narrow view of an absolute nobody.

Delete, delete, delete! Croquet a defining trait of class? I have never heard anything so preposterous and ridiculous in my life! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jjjjc (talkcontribs) 15:17, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

This article seriously needs a massive overhaul, it lacks much verifiability and really fails to bring any truth or understanding to a subject that is complex and hard to understand exactly.

The first sentance The social structure of the United Kingdom continues to be built on notions of social class has a glaring lack of citation and is very controversial, for instance many Britons would disagree and it is the reason that so many books talk of Briton 'Still having Classes' because the general belief is opposite.

This article so seriously needs an overhaul: Until recently even the Parliament of the United Kingdom was organised on a class basis, with the House of Lords representing the hereditary upper class, and the House of Commons representing everyone else. Thats not necessarily true and really just generalises centuries of British History: The Lords are to represent the owners of land and the commons to represent the workers of land, just because that fits the class doesn't mean it came about to support it.

I could honestly go on for hours, I find little information about the subject and believe this article is either irrelevent waffle or general opinions of individuals. We need someone who knows what they are talking about essentially and some serious citations!

OJSlaughter (talk) 16:37, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Ridiculous[edit]

The section header says it all. An 'article' apparently based on nothing but a random set of stereotypes, together with a smattering of random historical data - mostly badly-sourced, if at all. If Wikipedia is to have an article on the UK's social structure, it needs to start from sources which analyse it - historically, sociologically, and politically. It needs to show that neither 'class' nor 'structure' are self-evident 'truths', but are part of a complex series of interacting ideas, linked inextricably with economic and political conflicts, and, in spite of the claimed continuity of the system (claimed of course, by those at the top of the pile), forever redefining itself. Stubbify and start again... AndyTheGrump (talk) 01:31, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

I agree. Has been tagged for an expert since 2009, which I suppose I am - by these standards I definitely am. Roger Penn. Skilled Workers in the Class Structure. Cambridge University Press 2010 is the kind of source that could be used. Or B Skeggs. The making of class and gender through visualizing moral subject formation. Or A Sayer. Class, Moral Worth and Recognition. Or Stephen Ball, Diane Reay on education and class formation. Itsmejudith (talk) 14:13, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Benign[edit]

Stories that have 1800 nitrous oxide parties in them.

Under the nitrous oxide article it says nitrous oxide parties took off in a big way with British upper crust after discovery. Like LSD, like other drugs. Now NO2 is regarded as benign. Imagine a world where, if you needed revolutionary ideas, you would routinely take LSD to inspire you. A world where LSD is regarded as benign, commonly used for cluster headaches. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.232.211.142 (talk) 20:10, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Merge[edit]

I've proposed this article be merged partly in response to the issues summarised by Avaya1 above: "Most of the writing in this article is historically illiterate (and seems to be based on a popular book written by a woman called Kate Fox)." In addition, I think a merge will not only deal with the incessant issues in this article; it will also conform the topic to prevailing article naming standards. ClaretAsh (talk) 11:16, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose - yes most of this article is rubbish, but there are many of by country versions of the title, & it would not merge happily wuith the culture article. Most of the crap should just be removed, after discussion here, or labelled as the lazy stereotype it is. Johnbod (talk) 12:06, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Also opppose. What Johnbod said. The article needs major, major improvement, but it is not an impossible topic. I don't believe much, if any, of the current content would belong in Culture of the United Kingdom article, or that one should be redirected to the other. They are conceptually two different topics, and both equally encyclopaedic. -- zzuuzz (talk) 12:22, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Strongly opppose - a bizarre merge proposal, both topics are hugely independently notable and capable of very large treatment. That they have overlap is irrelevant, virtually every WP article overlaps with one (or often a lot more than one).Rangoon11 (talk) 12:59, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
    • I would hardly call it bizarre,(hmmm, rather strong language) but that may be my egalitarian background coming through: social status isn't as big an issue in my country as it appears to be in the UK. Nonetheless, if consensus is against the proposal, feel free to remove it. Regards, ClaretAsh (talk) 13:19, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
That the topic is notable - or that editors think it to be - shouldn't be read either as a reflection of opinions on the topic, nor on the quality of this article as it currently stands.Rangoon11 (talk) 13:31, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose but with only two 'p's.... - but what a hopeless, ill-informed article. Is it capable of being retrieved, or should someone just delete the whole thing and start again? Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:44, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I would scrap everything in this article except the very start and add a stub tag! The only bit I think has merit is,

"The social structure of the United Kingdom continues to be built on notions of social class.[1] Though definitions of social class vary, most are linked to factors such as occupation, level of education and wealth. Until recently even the Parliament of the United Kingdom was organised on a class basis, with the House of Lords representing the hereditary upper class, and the House of Commons representing everyone else. Since the 1980s there have been a number of social changes — the reform of the House of Lords, the expansion of home-ownership and higher education — which have altered the social landscape. However, any claims that the UK has become a classless society have been met with scepticism." Cheers Fishiehelper2 (talk) 14:08, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

For me the biggest problem with this article is the way in which it attempts to describe British society as it currently is (or as the author would like to think that it is). Clearly the bulk of that content is not merely inaccurate and hopelessly POV but offensively so. Some of this present day content can perhaps be converted to a description of a certain perspective of the current nature of class in the UK. Rangoon11 (talk) 14:17, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
I've made a start, it would be great if others could help as this will be a big job.Rangoon11 (talk) 15:23, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

sentence deleted[edit]

I deleted the following sentence: "Kate Fox claims that the main difference between the English and American social system is that in the latter, the rich and powerful believe they deserve their wealth and power and are more complacent.[23]"

I did so for multiple reasons. First, I don't think this comparison between the British and American social systems adds much of meaning to the article; it borders on irrelevant. Second, it's a very subjective claim made by a single anthropologist--conveniently, a British writer passing judgment on a culture that is not hers. Third, it is a huge claim to say that this is "the main difference" between British and American social systems, and anyone making such a claim ought to have robust data backing it up, but Kate Fox--if you go back to the source--has no data whatsoever. And finally, in this American's judgment, her claim simply isn't true. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.203.6.151 (talk) 23:33, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

Personally I have no problem with the deletion. Although sourced, it was highly POV and in my view WP:UNDUE, and read more like a vanity mention for Kate Fox than anything.Rangoon11 (talk) 23:36, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
Agree. The article is already a deal better than it was. Johnbod (talk) 00:47, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

revision of Informal classifications and stereotypes[edit]

after looking through this section of the article I found it in a complete mess with no order at all. I propose that we re-organise it with the lowest class at one end and the highest class at the other. something along the lines of:

                       underclass
                       Unskilled and semi-skilled working class
                       Skilled working class                                                                                                                
                       Lower middle class                                                                   
                       Nouveau riche                                                              
                       Middle middle class
                       Upper middle class
                       Upper class
           
                                                                         

this makes a lot more sense than the apparent "alpha" order someoneishere11 00:52, 30 November 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Penut510 (talkcontribs)

It would certainly be useful to hear User:Rangoon11's arguments for making this edit. Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:01, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
What is meant by a class being 'higher' than another, and who is to say that 'Nouveau riche' is 'higher' than 'Lower middle class'. These concepts/stereotypes are all highly subjective, controversial and POV, and presenting them in alpha order is in my view the most neutral approach. I don't personally see anyone as being 'higher' or 'lower' than myself, do others here? Rangoon11 (talk) 17:58, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
There is absolutely no need at all to refer to any group as "higher" or "lower". Those words are not used. However, the article is about a structure, and it does no service to readers to imply that the informal groupings identified have no structural relationship to each other. All the other sections of the text indicate a structure - say, connecting cottagers to royals, or group A to group E. Why should the section headed "Informal classifications and stereotypes" be any different? I am sure that multiple sources (do we really need to find them?) would agree that the spectrum of those groups listed runs, conventionally, from upper class to middle class to working class to underclass. To use an alphabetical order in that section is not only conceptually absurd in an article that is specifically about structure, it does a disservice to readers. Ghmyrtle (talk) 22:52, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
It should be noted firstly that the 'Nouveau riche' grouping has been deleted from the section in question since this thread began.
Placing the remaining stereotypes in an order which is not alpha-based inevitably presents them as a hierarchy of seniority. The concept of an 'upper middle class' person - and certainly as the concept is described in this article at least e.g. based on schooling etc - being in any way hierarchically above a 'middle middle class' person in the UK today is fundamentally POV. Of course sources can be found to support it, and also to deny it. In my experience of living in the UK status and seriority is now almost entirely based upon wealth and 'celebrity' (something I also find offensive, but that is another matter). The question here is should wikipedia be presenting such a POV hierarchy as fact. In my view that is what is done by giving an order as suggested above. Rangoon11 (talk) 23:41, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Ghmyrtle and Penut, this section should have a narrative flow which will make sense to the lay reader - and that's best achieved by a list in order of real or perceived educational/economic advantage or disadvantage (all of the formal classifications work in this way). I don't think it implies any value judgement about a person of class X being 'inferior' to a person from class Y. Interestingly, I came across this research paper by John Goldthorpe and a colleague who argue that class structure and status hierarchy are two different things.[1]Pondle (talk) 23:58, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
The paper looks interesting, we should try to use it in the article. If we do go for an approach as suggested, then we really need to provide a lot more context to the section, and do a lot more work on the actual descriptions given to each grouping. It needs to be made clear that this is a presentation of a perceived and highly debatable view on the structure of present day British society, not that it is an actual description of reality. It patently is not, and to give just one example it is clear that the likes of Phil Collins, Michael Caine or Paul McCartney enjoy far more 'status', 'advantage' or 'seniority' than a doctor who went to a public school. The same is true of CEO of a major company who may have gone to a state school. Rangoon11 (talk) 00:12, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
After looking again should we possibly include a small introduction or explanation using the article as reference or further reading like:
   Informal classifications and stereotypes

This section has been written in a purely narrative way and should not be interpreted as anything different. For further reading please see [2]

                       underclass
                       Unskilled and semi-skilled working class
                       Skilled working class                                                                                                                
                       Lower middle class                                                                                                                                
                       Middle middle class
                       Upper middle class
                       Upper class

Please edit as you see fit someoneishere11 08:06, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

The use of 'they'[edit]

I feel that sentences like

'They are highly politically and socially engaged and might be regular churchgoers, sit on local committees and governing boards or stand for political office.'

do not adequately summarize the lifestyle of a group as diverse as the 'middle middle class'. This article is very poorly written and clearly is not suitable for an encyclopedic entry. It is littered with gross generalizations and poorly sourced material. Either someone rewrite the whole thing or delete it, because as it stands it is not valuable information at all, just assertions caused by someones skewed and unexpert view of the social structure in the UK. (KingHiggins (talk) 18:58, 27 June 2012 (UTC))

The article clearly needs work, but is much improved and is capable of much greater improvement, especially the addition of citations. Deletion would achieve nothing, it is far better to focus efforts on developing and improving what we have.Rangoon11 (talk) 20:15, 27 June 2012 (UTC)

Rural citizens[edit]

Upon reading this article I was surprised that the only mention of life outside of the cities and suburbs was ancient (Husbandman) or irrelevant (outdoor pursuits of the Upper Class). I can personally assure anyone reading, in case there was doubt, that people do live in the countryside and you can get both 'Upper' and 'Lower' class professions (e.g. racehorses vs. shepherd) or 'Upper' and 'Lower' class persons doing the same job (e.g. farming). Indeed class in the countryside may be equally as interesting as that already in the article: all classes are involved in "outdoor pursuits" (in the inimitable words of Hot Fuzz "Everyone and their mums is packin' round here!"), there is a (mostly seasonal) influx of 'working class' veg/fruit pickers, the landed gentry have much dissolved or reinvented themselves over the past 100 years, there are increasing numbers of 2nd homes/ purely tourist-towns as well as the rapid rise of commuters (living in countryside, working in cities) since WW2.

Please can somebody clarify, add and source what class is like in the UK outside of its metropolitan centres. FloreatAntiquaDomus

I'm looking into this now. The trouble is, there doesn't seem to be much in terms of source material on the Rural Working Class. I have an article from King's College London that says there should be more research into it, but I can't actually find any. Gk007 (talk) 11:23, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Image[edit]

I don't really care enough to add it on myself, but surely this article would benefit from the Toffs and Toughs picture? Coolug (talk) 15:10, 18 January 2013 (UTC)

And I've done it anyway. Coolug (talk) 15:13, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
But it's not appropriate for the introduction as it doesn't illustrate the article topic as a whole - it illustrates one historic aspect, so fits better in the History section. Ghmyrtle (talk) 15:51, 18 January 2013 (UTC)

Public Schools and the HMC[edit]

What is this nonsense about all private schools with headteachers in the HMC being public schools? I attend a school which is a part of the HMC, but it most definitely is not a public school. This article has the same problem: Upper_middle_class#British_upper_middle_class. If no one has any objections, then I'm going to change this.

Additionally, the entire article seems to have been written by someone who has actually never visited England, or is going out of their way to fill it with as many gross generalisations and inaccuracies as is humanly possible. Gk007 (talk) 09:02, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

This article is an insult and should be removed[edit]

The very nature of Wikipedia makes articles like this obsolete. This article is a complete load of nonsense!

If there is really such thing as a "class" then we have 3 classes in UK that are dictated by the tax band that you fall within. Working class tends to anyone who is earning less than around 40000 gbp a year depending upon where it is set. Middle class is anyone over that amount but under about 150000 gbp a year. Obviously upper class is those who earn over 150000 gbp a year.

Any other waffle about who is in which class is meaningless and nonfactual. It is merely the POV of people who have nothing better to do than create fictional categories for people.

Whoever wrote this article is intent on making British people look like a bunch of idiots! There may be many of us who are but this should not be used as a way of discrediting us as a country in general. Wikipedia is for factual information. It is not supposed to be some magazine for gossipers and fantasists to ponder over what to brand certain people as. How about we leave this kind of nonsense in the school playground and keep Wikipedia for factual and useful information? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 49.48.34.18 (talk) 12:10, 14 August 2013 (UTC)