Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Class confusions?

Newsnight's has been discussing "the middle class under pressure" in a special edition.

Deborah Mattinson of Britain Thinks and Daniel Finkelstein talked about a poll finding that 71% of us now self-identify as middle-class, noting that this has shifted a great deal since the 1990s.

Yet a Guardian/ICM poll in 2007 showed that 53% regarded themselves as working-class, down only very marginally from 55% in 1998.

Meanwhile a YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph in 2010 found that 66% identified as middle-class, against 30% as working-class, which the newspaper reported was much higher than in previous surveys.

So it seems that most of us think we are middle-class, except when most of us think we are working-class. Can anybody cast light on why these polls have given such contrasting responses?

One of the most interesting results from Fabian Society attitudes research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation was that almost everybody - right across the income spectrum - thinks of themselves as being somewhere around the middle of the income spectrum.

This helps to explain why ComRes found that 48% of people say that, when Ed Miliband talks about the "squeezed middle", "he is talking about people like me and my family.


Tom said...

The ICM poll only gave people three options: upper, middle, working. The YouGov poll gave five: upper, upper-middle, middle, lower-middle, and working, with the middle three compacted together for reporting purposes. I think that explains a lot of the difference.

Sunder Katwala said...


Very interesting. Thanks for pointing that out.

James Alexander said...

A related mystery - 7% use private education, but the journalists and others bang on that its the middle classes who do it, that the m/cs have fled/are fleelng/are continually about to flee/ enmasse it. great fantasy of Will Hutton's.

Robert said...

I'm disabled retarded and crippled so what class do i come from the underclass.