The topic of this study is the social structure and class divisions, focusing mainly on Britain’s system of categorizing its population in various classes. These classes expose people’s financial status, standing and influence in British life. Nowadays social discrimination is habitual, and most Western societies make use of the ‘open’ system in order to classify its population. This means that an individual has the possibility of moving from one class to another, unlike in feudal societies where the class mobility was impossible.
This class system applies in Britain, which has often been referred to as an immensely class-conscious society. The lack of mobility characteristic of class-defined societies is based on Britain’s historical and geographical circumstances. Furthermore Britain has not faced the social and political innovations that industrialised societies have, which consequently explains their stratified society.
Generally, people’s view of British society distinguishes three main categories: the upper, middle and working class. Stately homes, aristocratic backgrounds and a strong British accent are common characteristics of the first class; semi-detached houses, suits and bowler hats reflect the middle class and, finally, council flats, fast food and “common accents” are stereotypical images of the working class.
Seen even more bluntly, British society can be regarded as traditionally divided into two camps: the have’s and the have-not’s. The former are the aristocracy and upper classes, the latter the workers. Although these clichéd models that people have in their minds regarding Britain’s class structure have changed and developed over time, people’s attitude toward “class” have remained quite constant.
Even a cursory glance at modern Britain is sufficient to confirm that class is still an all pervading presence and one that frequently has a negative impact on friendships, relationships and normal social interactions....