Paper summary: Social class
Identity, awareness and political attitudes: why are we still working class?
Despite a long-term decline in the size of the working class, the proportion of the public who identify themselves as working class has remained stable over time. This chapter explores the reasons for this apparent contradiction and its implications for social and political attitudes and politics more generally.
Majority consider themselves working class
Despite a decline in the number of routine and semi-routine workers in Britain, a majority of
people still identify as working class.
- 60% say they are working class, compared with 40% who say they are middle class.
This proportion who consider themselves working class has not changed since 1983
(when 60% said they were working class).
- Just under half (47%) of those in jobs classified as managerial and professional
consider themselves working class.
Class identity links with wider attitudes about class
Those who identify as working class tend to express distinct attitudes.
- Those who identify as working class are more likely than those who identify as middle class to say that there is a wide divide between social classes (82% compared with 70%).
- People who see society as divided between a large disadvantaged group and a small privileged elite feel more working class regardless of their actual class position.
- Occupationally middle class people who feel they are working class do not differ in their attitudes towards redistribution from other middle class people but are much more like the working class on immigration and social issues.
Authors: Geoffrey Evans, Nuffield College, University of Oxford and Jonathan Mellon, Nuffield College, University of Oxford
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