It is now taken for granted that in every civilized society there are laws aimed at preventing discrimination based on race, gender, age, pregnancy and sexual orientation.
The British Psychological Society (BPS) now wants to add another category: social class. In a recent paper, the BPS demands that discrimination against working-class people, or perhaps their way of speaking, should be outlawed – snobbery should be outlawed.
Haughtiness, the psychologists say, has “a significant and detrimental psychological impact on the working class and those of low socioeconomic status.”
In Britain, the students who perform the least academically or get admitted to elite universities are working-class white boys – at the bottom of the class. dr Bridget Rickett, an expert in social class psychology at Leeds Beckett University, says class discrimination is getting worse and a law protecting disadvantaged ‘lower socioeconomic’ groups would go a long way to improving the situation.
How can I forget the nuns at my school making fun of a working class Dublin accent and pointing out that nice girls don’t say “dese” and “dose”?
Britain is notorious for its class system, traditionally associated with accent, as a perceptive scenario my beautiful lady so well illustrated. Eliza Doolittle must learn to “speak decently” if she wants to pose as a lady.
Ireland’s patriots certainly set out with a mission to ‘treat all the nation’s children equally’ (children really means citizens here), but while some class mobility was achieved, class distinctions were by no means erased.
How can I forget the nuns at my school making fun of a working class Dublin accent and pointing out that nice girls don’t say “dese” and “dose” for “this” and “that”? Maybe they were just trying to improve their students’ chances of advancement in the world as they saw it. It was also considered “customary” to be seen eating on the street, and ladies should never raise their voices lest they sound like “a fishwife”.
In the distressing cases of young women who were placed in mother-and-child homes when they had an illegitimate child, there was a strong class affiliation – and a deep fear that an unmarried mother in the family might mean that the family itself would lose their status.
As many memoirs attest, “honorability” was a social position aspired to by so many, and much was sacrificed to attain that civic status. Family members with mental health problems or chronic addictions such as alcoholism were placed in homes to spare the family the stigma. Rural marriages were often carefully scrutinized lest a partner marry “below them,” which might “drag” the family position. Anyone who grew up in a small town or even a suburb knew that there were unspoken social class divisions.
If the old classifications were based on “honesty,” the new ones relate to money, acquisitions, vacation destinations, professional status, and that indefinable quality, “taste.” Tastefully furnished apartments and vacations away from home are still a hallmark, as are hobbies – being an opera fan is associated with an upper-middle class. The darts accent has more prestige than an inner-city Dublin accent – which has always been acceptable in comedy appearances (currently the very funny Andrew Maxwell flaunts his Dublin accent proudly) but is becoming less common in doctors, lawyers or architects admired. A great class divide is opening up between those who can own a home and those who cannot.
If the old classifications were based on “honesty,” the new ones relate to money, acquisitions, vacation destinations, professional status, and that indefinable quality, “taste.”
The BPS study highlights the “stereotypes” associated with people of lower economic status, but identifies this group as more “present-day oriented,” more likely to smoke and drink, and not to read to their children. Noble people are more individualistic, “self-directed,” while those of lower caste are more “tribal” and dependent on the group.
Sometimes snobbery is reversed. An old video of Rishi Sunak – candidate to succeed Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street – has been unearthed in which he was heard saying he had “no working-class friends”. This went down badly with the general public, and he has taken pains to point out that he worked in his mother’s pharmacy, selling aspirin to all sorts of people. Despite this, he attended Winchester College for £45,000 (€54,000) a year. Reverse snobbery means boasting — or perhaps inventing — humble origins.
Extending legal protections from discrimination to include working-class people — on grounds similar to race or sex — would be hard to control, but if it’s not practical it’s a theory worth exploring — be it or not it just to ask why it is that in whatever system is devised, some are always the top dogs and some are the underdogs
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/can-snobbery-be-outlawed-a-group-of-psychologists-recommends-it-should-be-41886136.html Can snobbery be banned? A group of psychologists recommend that it should be