Saturday Forum - Class is Dead?

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Belonging & Identity In The 21st Century.

Following the meeting we held in June on the marginalization of the white working class, at this meeting we will examine if class is an outmoded concept in the 21st century

The big question for the 21st century is – How do you manage our identity in a world which is so complex and where there are so many overlapping communities and countless boundaries. How can we possibly decide who we are and what we want to be?

In the past a person’s identity was closely linked to the identity of a community and often to our religion and then in the 19th century class became central to how we perceived ourselves and others.

But today this link between community, class and even religion has broken down. Today Identity is linked to a multitude of communities and the burden of identity is shifting more and more onto the shoulders of the person rather than the collective. But choice is painful.

So will the 21st century be one of identity and the challenge for individuals and communities will be how to engage. Will Identity and engagement be the key and will the idea of class have any role?

This is the first of what could be several meetings around the general theme of belonging and identity psychology and politics in the 21st century. If we have enough people interested in this and a few people willing to organise it then we will carry on with this theme on a monthly basis. These will be meetings with maybe one speaker and then lots of time for general discussion.

So at this meeting we will discuss the topic of class and identity but also network to see if we can carry on this theme or a similar one on a regular basis.

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  • Anne B.

    Thanks Anja - I can add this to the many instances of hearing insight being found by those who have been the subject of our external assessments. In this case I suppose the account may be seen as a fairly 'straight' description and has few surprises given that this very conventional formula has indeed been replicated for generations - leading to a hideously narrow upper class gene pool, evidenced in today's media attention to the 'Traditional Britain' lot and their leader, one grotesque specimen Gregory Lauder-Frost [if you like getting enraged, listen again to Vanessa Feltz's BBC London 94.9 radio interview broadcast after 9am this morning]. I would be happy to hear Adam in conversation with him.....!

    August 9, 2013

  • Anja B.

    Just read this fascinating reflection on how this country builds up its elite class by Adam Ramsay "My public school days & the building of upper class solidarity". Recommended reading:

    2 · August 9, 2013

  • Mika

    Many thanks Francis and everybody for a great meeting. Looking forward to more meetings and interesting debates.

    July 21, 2013

  • Anna

    Interesting topic, well attended with nice people and I would go again.

    July 21, 2013

  • terence f.

    Interesting navigation with different strengths of expressed oppinions trying to find a way forwards. Some brave volunteers will organise some future meetings.

    July 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    With apologies. My weekend has been turned upside down and I will no longer be able to join you on Saturday.

    July 19, 2013

  • Michael K.

    Sorry, Francis, but now can't make it. An unexpected task has presented itself. I hope to get to other such fora.

    July 19, 2013

  • Bernard G.

    Very disappointed - won't be able to make it tomorrow.

    July 19, 2013

  • Andrew

    This is the issue that tends to be buried and hidden away, but that is corroding our society. I'm so glad we're taking it on!

    July 16, 2013

  • Ian T.

    My question: Can atomised individual consumers fight effectively against oppression, exploitation and injustice? I think not. The whole point about working class is not so much that it is an entity as an identity of interests i.e the exploited/oppressed against the exploiters/oppressors. The big question is what do we mean by exploitation and oppression and how do we put an end to them. On another issue - the expression 'white working class' is merely divisive because it excludes the brown, black and yellow working class who are just as much in the same boat as anyone else who is not in charge of their lives and subject to rule by an increasingly ill-defined ruling class. Hardt and Negri have suggested the term 'multitude' rather than class to characterise those who are voiceless and subject to rule by others - maybe?

    We hear incessantly about the plight of the middle class. We have a parliament that is by, for and of the middle class. Majority no longer represented in parliament

    July 14, 2013

  • MJY (Michael Y.

    Sorry. Unable to join you.

    July 11, 2013

  • Jonathan S.

    The question of class has become something of an issue of valuation rather than a designated socio-economic category. Owen Jones's book Chavs, illustrates how the use of an underclass concept has moved politics towards the concepts of blame and indifference. We are perhaps more divided as a nation than at any time since the Second World War with little sense of joint responsibility.

    2 · July 11, 2013

  • Eugene B.

    i will try to make it

    1 · July 11, 2013

  • Fiona W.

    On Saturday 6 July, in their Opinion section, The Times reprinted an article by Francis Fukuyama from The Wall Street Journal, 'The Middle-Class Revolution'. This is easily accessed via Google whereas, as I'm sure you know, The Times is only by subscription (theirs was headed 'This is middle-class unrest. It can happen here.)

    I thought it might make interesting background reading for our meeting on 20th.

    July 8, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part 4: In addition to this I have recently picked up an article in the news that states that we have a new class system of about 7 categories in addition to the traditional class system. This new class system has been recently reported in the news and it includes the Business Class and the Technological IT affluent class.
    Overall, the concept of class has become as divergent and diverse as the individuals and groups who make up today’s society in the 21st Century.

    Thank you.

    1 · June 20, 2013

    • Andria

      This doesn't make much sense to me. There is nothing about education in there for example- it;s all about money, culture - I s;ppose education might be described vaguely as WITHIN culture - and social capital. I can't even bare the fact that the word capital is used as a word to describe something pozitive, wholesome, giving, nurturing and educational. Almost makes me wanna vomit

      July 6, 2013

    • Andria

      i meant , as in social capital

      July 6, 2013

  • Rebecca


    July 5, 2013

  • Bernard G.

    Sorry, I didn't realise this forum was going to be on this rather rarefied academic level. Haven't decided yet, but I will probably pull out. Regards Bernard

    July 3, 2013

  • Sherif M.

    Thank Mr.Nail,
    Hello all
    For me it is difficult to have a pure separation as the knife collective identity and individual identity, although they are different things and can be a specific object of academic study as a going concern. Since both these parts of human identity traits bear the stamp of different stages of historical development of human society.
    In my violent violation of human identity discrimination produces the structure of society that is the source of conflict. Human identity and society requires governments to implement in practice the daily motto "we are different but equal before the law ..."
    ....Discrimination and violence by different governments of different countries affect identity individual people migrate ..,,,, what should be done to preserve the identity of the individual who is directly linked to human dignity?

    July 3, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part 3: So we may have a middle class person falling down the social ladder and economically they may in poverty. Likewise you may have a person from working class background/roots who is affluent but he/she still lives true to their cultural and class identity of having working class roots. The class system has never been so chaotic and it is going through a transitional stage but the original class system still exists in certain places but we are also seeing a displacement of class according to changing (rising or falling) social status.

    June 20, 2013

    • Neil M.

      There is a hugh misconception in world society that has been encouraged for many years which is based on money and the acquisition of money; that it is believed to break barriers of skin colour, class and culture. The modern context of elitism is based not solely on a hidden class awareness but on the other variables associated with class and to a great extent we have a pseudo classless society on one side and a non-class society on the other. The two are different. Non-class is the category that states that whatever your cultural upbringing and wherever your familyline descends from, it is your skin colour and the work you do through the opportunites you are allowed to take up that brings you to the status of being part of the underclass or sub class of a so called classless society.

      July 3, 2013

    • John

      A lot of contemporary academic research, sociological research to be more specific, is more useful in equipping people with the vehicle to articulate areas of class, race and gender and other identity/demographic markers too. I'd suggest looking into Intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, Critical Mixed Race Theory and the like in order to do so.

      July 3, 2013

  • Ms Elcena J.

    Good idea

    July 2, 2013

  • John

    Something to get people thinking... Please watch if you have a few minutes ~

    Something to get people thinking... Ms. Jane Elliott's "brown eyes, blue eyes" experiment in 1970 (the third one after her first in 1968). This "Eye of Storm" documentary was made by William Peters in 1970 for ABC News and later included in the documentary "A Class Divided" (1985), which included a class reunion (of 1984).

    July 1, 2013

  • Sherif M.

    Hello Mr. Frances ,Hello all!
    It is a discussion and a debate which has great importance.
    History in its antiquity but also current time is proving that human races human world, ideas, beliefs, or social, economic, educational, skin color, language habits of other things have been even are different in human society . Historical evidence even today many are proving that each has his own identity that makes each of us to be different or to be otherwise he said it is.
    The conception of human identity as a gift from god made by nature, is the foundation of acceptance and diversity management among people. Meanwhile, coexistence of people migrate to different identities is related to the exchange of human values ​​with each Coming together.

    July 1, 2013

    • Neil M.

      Sherif, I agree with what you are saying, we also have to note that each one of us has both an individual identity as well as a collective identity based on language, cultural ties, class, social status & beliefs/Faith. The focus here is on the hierarchy structure. It does exist but may be for many it is irrelevant but for most of us, without social mobility, class will still be a deciding factor on who has access to information? Who receives respect in society? Answering all these questions ultimately opens the door to our social standing and monetary acquisition in society. Have a great debate everyone. I'm looking forward to all your comments. Regards, Neil.

      July 1, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Apologies, I have another event that has come up. Hope you enjoy the forum. Good Wishes to all. Regards, Neil.

    July 1, 2013

  • Max

    Sounds like a great idea the monthly forum. Very interested in coming to this!

    July 1, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part 2: So what does Class mean? Is it the cultural upbringing of individuals and their class groups? Is it the cultural tastes and lifestyle of a particular social group or an individual who has traits associated with that social group? Perhaps it is also to do with traditions of a social group and the way you speak, the accent most particularly and the interests of the individuals. But what we are seeing is that class goes beyond a racial group and crosses ethnic groups. However the complexity of the changes within the class system in the recent 40 years is in that you may be culturally from a particular class group but you might be socially in a different category that is not associated with the class group you belong to.

    June 20, 2013

  • Neil M.

    Part 1: It is a misconception or myth to believe that the class system is dead. What has happened is that the class system has become more and more complex and the traditional class system still exists but is less noticeable under a mirage of a classless society. This is confirmed by the fact that we still have a hierarchy upon which the State is promoted and upheld. We have a respected Royal family and we have an honours system in the country including the presence of an upper chamber made up of the House of Lords that has decided to postpone any calls for reform. The difficulty is that class is not always strongly associated with social status.

    2 · June 20, 2013

  • Mike R.

    I am interested in how we spontaneously generate a sense of class in the moment, and how flexibly we could allow each other to be equal, upper, and lower, as the need arises (the British aristocracy were good at creating a sense of ease and equality)

    1 · June 20, 2013

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