Middle class July 25, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, The Left.
Reading last week or the week before in the UK media about some captain of the financial industry brought down by hubris and whatever I was very struck by a comment which noted that the man understood what it was to ‘work’ and the concerns of ordinary people having spent his first couple of summers working on the shop floor of a local company. His own parents were, if I recall correctly, academics so his own class position was middle class, or there or thereabouts.
What was striking was the assumption that simply by working (and self-evidently for a relatively brief period of time) in such a context he had a genuine insight into the problems faced by those in the working class. It’s not that that’s not possible to some degree, but it seemed to me that he fell prey to the common misconception that some have (and telling that the point even had to be made, obviously it was made to try to narrow the gap between the astronomical sums being discussed and the lives of most of us).
But it was clear from the profile that he was in essence helicoptered in and out again. He would have qualifications, experience and family and class connections upon which to draw if times got tough. These aren’t inconsiderable things. Of course as an individual he could fail. That’s a given. And in some respects he failed big, if I recall the article. But as part of a cohort his life chances were incomparably better. And that’s the distinction. I don’t quite understand why that concept is so difficult to grasp for some. But it’s something, clearly, that has to be said time and again.