Element Descriptor

Class isn’t just Eton Rifles and old school ties. It’s an ideology, and like any ideology, it has its supple and hidden sides, complete with justifications and immune responses when attacked. And you’re walking around with a big healthy dose of it. So, if you want to do cross-class collaborations at any meaningful level, you’re gonna have to take a good look at the class and yourself. If you don’t, you’re part of the problem, and you’re gonna (further) exhaust exhausted people

Level descriptors

If you grew up in the UK, you’re already probably a practitioner at this without knowing it – class judgements and distinctions are EVERYWHERE… You understand that the link between education and class level has frayed – no more cloth caps. You’re familiar with the “prolier than thou” tactic used by some..You know all the words to “Common People” by Pulp. Eton Rifles by The Jam and that skit in Monty Python with Cleese, Baker and Corbett and you’ve read Joe Ashton’s Grass Roots, Owen Jones Chavs and a couple of other books. You know about the hidden injuries of class and how it shapes life chances and perspectives.You know how markers of class/distinction have shifted/been shifted over the decades, how systems reinforce themselves, how social mobility is down and why that does and doesn’t matter. You’re not great fun at parties though…You can explain the finer points of class distinction to a Bourdieu fan, someone from Outer Mongolia and a visiting Martian anthropologist, and get them all to see what you are on about.

Element Overview Essay

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Okay, so when I am chief fascist dictator the national anthem is going to be Pulp’s Common People. It is going to be taught in schools. We’re going to follow that up with the new song by Billy Nomates, Hippy Elite

Anyway causes? Well, it’s a bit like white skin privilege, isn’t it? Middle class people like to have someone to look down on because it makes them feel perhaps more secure.

And obviously there’s inverse snobbery. And Joe Ashton’s wonderful novel “Grass Roots” is really good on that too. But the British class system is a wonder to behold. I wasn’t fully raised in it, but can hum along. It is baffling to outsiders  Around, you know, the accents and what schools you went to and all the rest of it. 

Consequences: So, if you don’t understand class, in the UK, you really are in a hiding to nothing. Your social movement organisations are going to stay painfully small and irrelevant, because you’re not going to be able to do even the most basic allyship here. Yeah. 

And therefore what has to be done, besides having Pulp on repeat and reading some of the “proletarian memoirs”, that go around, is you know, just be honest with yourself about your privilege and understand how the media works to perpetuate this stuff, and how the systems are in place for what the academics like to call “social reproduction”. So, you know, listening, you can read your Bourdieu  if you like, but just actually properly listening to other people would be a start.

If you called your dad, he could stop it all…

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