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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > June 2016 > Britain’s furious social churn

Britain’s furious social churn

An account of becoming middle class is too pious but worth arguing with says David Goodhart

Respectable: The Experience of Class

by Lynsey Hanley (Allen Lane, £16.99)

A few months ago, the comedian David Baddiel gave a newspaper interview in which he described himself as lower middle class. As he went to the north London private school Haberdashers’ Aske’s (albeit on a scholarship) and Cambridge University, I thought that was stretching a point and tweeted something about it.

He was unhappy about being accused of inverted snobbery and I got a clobbering from his many fans on Twitter. But I thought his self-description said something interesting about the increasing fluidity and subjectivity of social class.

Many jobs such as cleaning and retail are now regarded as being “for failures or foreigners”

Lynsey Hanley might also be described as lower middle class. Her father had a white-collar job and her family owned their own home. They had expectations of upward mobility for their precocious only child. The fact that she chooses to describe herself as respectable working class, rather than lower middle class, is partly to do with her centreleft politics but also because she was raised on the Chelmsley Wood council estate in Solihull, near Birmingham.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s June issue: Bronwen Maddox lays out the case for Britain to stay in Europe—the position taken by the magazine. Mikhail Gorbachev explains his hopes for Russia, suggesting that the claim democracy is bad for Russia is “balderdash.” Rachel Sylvester looks at the Conservative Party and explores what might happen to the Tories after the EU referendum. Also in this issue: Nicholas Shaxson and Alex Cobham unpick the world of hidden money and what Britain can do about tax havens. Neil Kinnock argues that Labour isn’t making progress under Jeremy Corbyn and Jason Burke examines Islamic State and the networks that underpin their attacks. Plus Stephen Bayley asks was BritArt any good?