Even Sir David Beckham won’t make Britain a classless society

Even Sir David Beckham won’t make Britain a classless society

When, as is rumoured, David Beckham receives a knighthood at Buckingham Palace next year, Britain should be celebrating the death knell of its crazy class system. We should finally recognise that classism merely stifles opportunity and creates yet another reason for people to feel divided rather than united.

The good news, as I wrote in my recent column for Facts and Arts, is that classism is preserved only by people talking about it. Even though some might give the impression that their class is as scientifically provable as the colour of their eyes, it isn’t. Simply, if we all stopped thinking about class, and stopped labelling people according to its strictures, it would die. There would still be divisions and unfairness. But at least nobody would be held back according to irrelevances such as their father’s job, their accent, certain words they use, the type of school they went to and, incredibly, the way they hold their knife and fork. Things that should matter more, would matter more.

However, we’ll have no such luck. Because we British just can’t stop placing each other on a social scale. Thinking of themselves as a member of a class is so engrained in many people that it gives them a sense of belonging, sometimes mission – even if their life path has rendered it all meaningless.

Earlier this year, a couple of well-meaning academics tried to shake up our attitudes to class. They suggested that there were not three, but seven classes in the UK, which could be measured according to people’s “economic, cultural and social capital”. Unfortunately, they made the mistake of choosing divisive and pejorative terms to describe the categories – ranging from “Elite” for those, like Beckham, with lots of money and social contacts to “Precariat” for those with nothing. In one fell swoop they merely created new divisions in society.

So, sadly, David Beckham’s knighthood won’t make a jot of difference to our obsession with class, and those of us who plead for a classless society – one where we don’t categorise and label each other – find our words falling on deaf ears.

Article date

November 30th, 2013

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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