In the U.S., class is a dirty word, used mostly in pejorative settings (think class warfare). In the UK, it’s a badge of honor, or at least used to be. Mindful of the ever-evolving stratification in Britain, the BBC has launched an online class calculator that enables all takers — even us Yanks — to determine whether we are creatures of breeding and discernment or … well, something less than that.
The calculator was developed by Mike Savage of the London School of Economics and Fiona Devine from the University of Manchester for their Great British Class Survey, which was designed to determine whether class still matters. Of the study, the pair wrote:
We devised a new way of measuring class, which doesn’t define class just by the job that you do, but by the different kinds of economic, cultural and social resources or ‘capitals’ that people possess.
The data they collected was analyzed by academics from the University of York, City University, the University of Bergen in Norway and the Universite Paris Descartes in France. Responses were provided by 161,000 people, making the survey the largest ever of its kind.
The survey begins with easily quantifiable questions, such as annual income and savings, if any. From there the questions get more subjective. For example, asking what types of people you know socially, what kinds of cultural activities you engage in (e.g., do you go to museums, listen to hip-hop, or both?).
Based on your aggregate answers, the survey assigns you a class label. “Technical Middle Class,” as a case in point, is “a small, distinctive and prosperous new class group” defined by individuals who “mix socially with people similar to themselves, work in research, science and technical fields and enjoy emerging culture such as going to the gym and using social media.”
Be warned that to use the calculator, you need to register at the BBC site — which places you squarely in the class labeled “Chumps.”
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