Consequent to the hype today after the BBC announced the findings the ‘Great British Class Survey’, I decided to ‘take the test’. Three sections later I discovered myself amongst those who are ‘Precariat‘. Whilst I was pleased to discover an unexpected solidarity with the poor, the accompanying description of us didn't, somehow, feel it quite described my experience of life: ‘This is the poorest and most deprived class group. People in this group score low for economic, social and cultural factors: They tend to mix socially with people like them. Jobs in this group include cleaner, van driver and care worker. They tend not to have a broad range of cultural interests. People in this group often live in old industrial areas away from urban centres. More than 80% rent their home.’
My suspicions aroused, I decided to try again but, this time, to indicate that I earned an ‘average’ wage. With no other changes I was immediately elevated to the category of ‘New Affluent Worker’. Ah, I thought, what might happen if I said I owned the house in which we now live? Again, with no other changes, I was re-classified as ‘Established Middle Class’.
I am sure that Professor Mike Savage (Fellow of the British Academy, Professor of Sociology and Director of the York European Centre for Cultural Sociology at the University of York) and Professor Fiona Devine (Professor of Sociology and Head of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester) who designed the ‘BBC Lab UK's Great British Class Survey’ were doing their best but I cannot help but think this brief survey rather absurd. Without even asking if you read books it manages, with just six questions, to classify someones place in society mainly, it would seem, on their financial status. I fear that most of us who are on a Pension and rent their home are now amongst the ‘Precariat’. Perhaps the Government should take note?