Every society has its own unique social structure. In the U.S. it revolves mainly around racial economic issues resulting in distinct social groups.
Economically disadvantaged people in the U.S. are stereotyped as poor, black or hispanic minorities taking advantage of welfare and other social programs. The terms “Inner City” and “Welfare Queens” bring to mind images of single black or hispanic women with many kids or gangs of minority men terrorizing the streets. Whether accurate or not, these stereotypes infiltrate the class system that dominates America.
In the UK, however, the class system is built less around race and more around wealth and geographic location within the country.
The south of England, which includes London, has been long known as the affluent part of the country, producing different accents that are seen as “posh”.
The north of England, which is home to places like the shipping town of Liverpool and Bradford, which relies on a textile industry. 10 out of the 12 most economically struggling cities are in the North and none are in the true south, according to a 2016 report on the Independent.
“There’s definitely a class divide in England,” Maya, 24 said. “People here can tell the difference between a northern accent and a southern one and totally has class connotations.”
Broken up into an elite class, middle class, working class, service workers and the precariat, the UK has much more obvious and unbreakable class divisions. Its not impossible to move between classes in the United States (although crossing racial lines is much more unreachable) in the UK, the crossing of class lines is more challenging.
The gap between the classes is also much more noticeable in the UK and the wealth gap that comes along with it is more damaging than the “one percenters” of the US.
Look at the Grenfell Tower tragedy, for example. Government housing in a wealthy part of town feels the consequences of the higher classes cutting corners in an attempt to rejuvenate the city. Lower classes are seen as exactly that, lower citizens, a sect of people that is somehow beneath.
Grenfell tower is a perfect example of the government and governing classes putting their own economic and personal gains over the wellbeing and safety of lower castes, according to local 38-year-old Londoner, Greg who visited the tower in the days following the fire.
Overall, the concept of social classes is not an English invention but it is one perfected by them, possibly as a result of their ever-present monarchy, a symbol of status and class. Perhaps it;s due to how much longer of a history England has than America that makes the persistence of seemingly outdated social classes possible or maybe it’s that their ruling class stems from a long line of royalty who have been in a place of power for centuries.
I don’t have a solution for England’s class problems and I don’t have a solution for ours either. I do know that with class gaps come inequalities that in some cases put the lower classes in danger and that there needs to be something done to bring the classes together as a singular England.
Yours Politely, Natalie