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Class more of a disadvantage than race?

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A UK government official has been giving his opinion on the topic today.

It's a common perception that the UK is a classbound society, but I'm quite perplexed about the arguments flying around today. I'll agree that race is less of a barrier to success than it was between the 1950s and the 1980s. However, class is much less clear-cut.

One the one hand, I'm working class and I grew up in a working class area in a house which was fairly low-waged in comparison to most. Mining was the best money around and the main industry. My dad wasn't allowed to be a miner after having TB as a teenager and his factory wages were lower. None of this stopped me from doing well at school and getting a degree afterwards. Granted I wouldn't have chosen teaching as a career if I'd known my health was going to fold within 10 years, but as things have panned out I have a fairly interesting job and I fit in a bit of lecturing on the side.

On the other hand, we have some filled with street after street of people living on benefits where kids are feral and roam in packs. Is it a disadvantage to grow up somewhere like that? Yes, it probably is. However, it's not because the children don't have access to schooling, qualified teachers and books or would be refused grants for higher education. It's not because no employer will take someone from that part of town. It's sadder than that. The barrier comes from within. The child is so conditioned to live in his environment that very few have the aspiration to want out. How you solve that I don't know.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
rickfan37
Jan. 14th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
You start by reforming the welfare system more comprehensively than any of the parties have the balls to do. Benefits act as disincentives to work, and to marry too, for that matter.
selened
Jan. 14th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
As I remember it the benefit system was Mrs Thatcher's sticking plaster for the damage she did to the British economy and the handing over of the social housing stock. It's gone on way too long though. As a single childless woman I've never received much when I've been between jobs. The website www.etitledto.co.uk opened my eyes to what some people get.
shiv5468
Jan. 14th, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC)
I think it's more complex than merely reforming benefits. People don't stay on benefits if they think there's somethin better for them, and there are three generations of some families lost to unemployment who know no other way.

I think the loss of grammar schools also decreased mobility. Now people talk about how taking people out of poverty and giving them a chance alienates them from their culture.
selened
Jan. 14th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
I think there's a job gap at certain skill levels. The manufacturing industry employed a wide range of skill levels, much more so than the service industry does.
labellerose
Jan. 14th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
Althoug I live in the US I'm fascinated by these points which match upwith some experiences of Mine. FOr instance where I live there is a subastantial community of upper middle class professionals of color, and several 'trailer parks' where poor whites live. I can't assume that a white student is privledged or that a student of color is automatically disadvanted anymore.
selened
Jan. 14th, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
The UK is a bit of a patchwork regarding ethnic mixes. Generally, the larger the city, the more mixed it is. I live in an area which is almost totally white. At a guess about 5% of my colleagues are non-white and they commute in from nearby cities. Nottingham was the nearest city to where I grew up and was quite mixed, but the only coloured children in our group of villages were those from the city who were living in foster care.
mollyssister
Jan. 22nd, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
off topic
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