A question of class

We shouldn’t expect many political polls in the next few days given the Easter break (and if we do, we should probably be wary of them for the same reason) In the meantime here’s an Ipsos MORI poll on class. The poll found 52% of respondents considered themselves working class and 44% middle class.

Polls are of course weighted to represent the correct class breakdown of the country, but these breaks – based on occupation – bare little resemblence to how people classify themselves. Amongst the AB socially classification (that’s professionals like teachers, doctors, businessmen, managers and so on) 68% see themselves as middle class, 30% working class. At the opposite end of the scale, the DE social classification (that is, casual workers, the unemployed and long term sick, labourers, semi-skilled manual workers, etc) 66% see themselves as working class but 28% see themselves as middle class. It may mean people have strange ideas of what class they are, or it may just mean the ABC1C2DE classification of social grade by occupation isn’t actually very good.

More fun are the questions further on about what political parties and activities people associate with different classes. Perceptions of political parties representing different social classes are still present to a degree – 39% of people think the Labour party best represent the working class (compared to 10% who think the Tories do and 8% who think the Lib Dems do). 46% of people think the Conservatives best represent the middle cass (compared to 19% who think Labour do and 7% who think the Lib Dems do). 65% think the Tories best represent the upper classes.

Taking the bus is the activity most associated with being working class (by 62%), followed by having an allotment (52%, down significantly from 72% when a similar question was asked in 1991), eating in front of the telly (48%), watching Coronation Street (45%), going to football matches (42%), and eating peas with a knife (35%). Buying organic food was the activity most associated with being middle class (52%), along with going to museums (46%), playing cricket (41%) or rugby (39%). Going to the opera (61%) was associated with the upper classes.

Shopping at Lidl, Somerfield, Iceland, Morrisons or Asda was seen as working class, Tescos as relatively classless, Sainsburys as Middle class and Waitrose as either middle or upper class.


9 Responses to “A question of class”

  1. I think I am middle class judging by those results! Does that make me bad?

  2. Eating in front of the telly (I like watching Chanel 4 News) + going to museums + the opera… I think that makes me upper-middle working class.

  3. I come from a working class background, I’m 23, I have a good degree and work as a software developer, I am paid to use by brain not my strength.
    What am I? The whole class thing to me seems pretty shallow. I would say I am working class because I put in a hard days work each day and have dinner in front of the TV. Yet I watch newsnight and listen to Radio 4, and when I have time for a paper, its the Indy. Its all nonsense. Nothing more than a tool for advertisers. Morrisons have a northern image, hence the poll result.
    Excuse typos, I’m on my iPod :)

  4. The whole concept of class was virtually done away with by Margaret Thatcher . It appears only the trade unions and the Labour Party still play on the old class systems.

    Class these days is all in the eye of the beholder.

  5. I used to have an allotment, and I don’t think anybody in those allotments was working-class at all. Although even at that site, in Old Palace Lane near the Thames at Richmond, several allotment-holders did have sympathy for the Labour Party, not just me. No doubt in other parts allotment-holders are more likely to be working-class people.

  6. At my friend;s allotment in Norwich it used to be full of old boys from the factories of Norwich. Now most of the allotments are run by white middle-class women( nurses / teachers etc). Suspect many vote for the Greens. Only Norwich -born woman I know there has a botanist husband from Yorkshire. my friend loves Jerusalem artichokes.

    I did have a supervisor at Norwich Union who shopped at Morrisons because her manager shopped at Sainsburys – of course at least one of the team members shopped at Waitrose for the opposite reason.

  7. If you shop at Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer, what does that make you? Classless? Confused? Or a discerning shopper?

    The allotment issue is a good definintion of class.
    If you have one you are working class.
    If you just like the idea of one, you are middle class.
    If someone offers you an allotment and you think ‘shares’ rather than ‘carrots’ you are upper class.

  8. A Morrisons near me became a Waitrose. Does that mean the people that continued to shop there went from being Working Class, to landed gentry in a space of two weeks? Good going.

  9. The old classifications are of very little use nowadays.