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A child is two-and-a-half times as likely to have a managerial job, if their grandparents were of a higher class.

Social class in the United Kingdom

The trouble is, the fabric of our society has so many strands, it can be difficult to disentangle all the potential factors that could influence your status. One potential issue is that most previous studies have only examined two generations — parents and children — whereas your class may depend on many more branches of the family tree. Tak Wing Chan at University College London, for instance, has found that a child is two-and-a-half times as likely to have a professional or managerial job, if their grandparents were of a higher class.

With these more distant ties, social class may be even less elastic than we thought — even if one generation pulls away, the next may be tugged backwards thanks to the broader connections of their family at large.

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In the Domesday Book of , for instance, you can find the names of wealthy landlords, who were most often descended from the Norman invaders, such as Baskerville, Darcy, Mandeville, Montgomery, Neville, Percy, Punchard, and Talbo. He then examined how often such names continued to crop up in historical records during the following centuries.

He scoured lists of people attending Oxford and Cambridge Universities, probate records of inheritance, and members of parliament, for instance, all of which might suggest a higher social status. If social mobility were high, you would expect those rare names to crop up less and less often, as people of other backgrounds begin to occupy those prestigious positions; if it were low, the proportion would stay roughly the same. In fact, he found long-term social mobility to be very slow indeed , calculating that it takes around 10 generations for someone at the highest or lowest levels of society to reach the middle classes.

Most surprisingly of all, that rate of social mobility remained remarkably stable — even after the monumental changes of the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of universal education.


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Despite perceptions of greater social mobility, he found that the rate of change was roughly the same as in Britain. The same turned out to be true for Sweden; although the overall differences in wealth do tend to be smaller between the rich and poor, you still find the same families occupying the more prestigious jobs — such as doctors, lawyers, or university professors.

And his explanations for these results may raise some eyebrows.

Even 'Fleabag' has been rounded on

Like Chan, he considers that one possibility is purely sociological. Working class people can become middle and upper class by gaining a good education and going into a profession. Great British Mag.

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If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Class identity is not a burden but part of who I am.

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My new identity conflicts with the old, as I am increasingly comfortable with the fact that America is my home. Nevertheless, I do now know where I am from. Topics US immigration How I got here. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All.

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