I took the BBC’s new ‘Class Calculator’ test and apparently I fall into the Emergent Service Worker class. I have no idea what this means, and I think I know why. I would have put myself at the higher end of the scale – I live in a nice house, go to a good University, I went to a private secondary school, and had a very upper-middle class upbringing. But the test has reminded me that all of this was the product of my parent’s hard work, not mine. I don’t own the house I live in, the government is paying upfront for my University education, and my parents help me with living costs. It is interesting to see that the first questions asked by the class calculator concern matters that most students and young people cannot relate to. We don’t really have a household income, and I know very few students with significant personal savings. In fact the test seems to exclude young people from its calculations all together, with the youngest average age of any group being 34.
However, I think this is probably a very good thing. Our society is obsessed with class – where you come from, what school you went to, what your parents do – all of this seems to factor into our valuing of a person. And even more so we seem to be obsessed with labelling these classes – I cannot tell you the number of times I have been called ‘posh’ because of my West London accent. What this new class calculator shows is that the concept of ‘class’ is much more complicated in an age of greater social mobility and indeed greater social integration. University is a prime example of this new phenomenon – thousands of young people from hugely different backgrounds concentrated in a place whose aim is to broaden their minds and encourage the forming of life-long friendships based on common interests, not common backgrounds. The fact that young people and students don’t naturally fit into the BBC’s definitions of class gives me a sense of hope that my generation will be even less concerned about class as a defining, and often divisive, factor. It also suggests that the potential success of young people cannot and should not be limited by social class, a fact that I find hugely refreshing considering our obsession with categorising people at the earliest opportunity. So have a go at the test and see what class you are put in, and whether you agree with the results!
You can take the class test here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22000973