Dr David McQueen talks about class on BBC Radio Solent

BU Politics and Media course leader Dr David McQueen was on BBC Radio Solent talking about class, and how people define what class they are in.

He spoke about the issue on Alex Dyke’s mid-morning show, following a survey which showed that people without an above average salary identified themselves as middle-class.

“The fact is that survey has generated a lot of interest, I think because the British are obsessed with class, basically,” he said.

“I think there’s a mirror image of America, which denies there’s a class system, I think we obsess on the tiny details of class.”

He added: “I think people used to be more comfortable in their class – I think if you go back to 1966, what’s interesting is that only a third of people identified themselves as middle-class. That’s now leapt up to 50 per cent according to this survey, and other surveys have shown it to be up to 70 per cent.

“So I think there’s a real anxiety about representing yourself as working class.”

But he said that the results may be skewed as people have to tick a box identifying themselves as one or the other.

“I think that most people feel uncomfortable with either of those definitions – there’s parts of their identities which don’t fit in with either.

“But what’s also interesting is that the family background continues to be important; if you are born into a family which has money, that you are likely to inherit the wealth and values of that family, and I think that’s come across in this survey – that they value education, that they think the type of home they live in is important, and their income as being important.”

He added that, increasingly, social mobility was being stifled and it was becoming more difficult for people to change the class that they are in.

“I think the real issues here is that people’s salaries are falling, and that people want to identify themselves as not being poor, and as not working class, when actually, by objective standards, they are.”

You can listen to the full interview here