Class Inequality Awareness Toolkit

Class Inequality Awareness Toolkit

What is social class, and what is class inequality?

Social class is the division of a society based on the perceived social status and economic status of individuals – it is not simply the wealth an individual earns that determines what social class they are considered to belong to. Generally, we think of class being separated into three categories – upper class, middle class and working class. However, changes to labour practices and the characteristics of social groups in the turn of the century has led to revisions in how class is determined and defined. In 2011, the Great British Class Survey (conducted by the BBC) revealed seven distinct class categories; these class categories were described as ‘elite’, ‘middle class’ (broken down into established and technical middle class), ‘new affluent workers’, ‘traditional working class’, ‘emergent service sector’ and ‘precariat’. The latter four vary in terms of their financial income and the perceived value of their ‘social contacts’, but all would fall under pre-established notions about the ‘working class’- labourers or low income workers. It is this fracturing of social classes into sub-categories that illustrates how unclear it can be who is or isn’t at risk of class inequality or restricted social mobility.

Class inequality occurs when resources in a given society are distributed unevenly, typically through norms of allocation, and reinforce specific patterns along lines of socially defined categories of persons. Class inequality ensures only particular families have access to higher education for their children, access to particular schools or housing, access to high or low quality healthcare and even transportation or financial services. There are ways to resist or reverse the impact of class inequality through organisational support and conscientious behaviour as an individual.

Class inequality awareness (on personal and organisational levels) includes:

  • Challenging classist language and slurs (e.g. “chav”, “benefits scrounger”)
  • Inclusive hiring practices (e.g. “blind” CV and application form screening, adjusting job specifications around educational background, removing need for driving licence/car where possible)
  • Providing training and upskilling for free/ reduced rates, accounting for socioeconomic background
  • Running inclusive & affordable social events (avoiding expensive meals, trips or events which require a pre-established skillset or knowledge background), or challenging class-excluding events when organised
  • Providing or supporting flexible working arrangements for parents/caregivers
  • Providing or supporting financially accessible transportation schemes

The Diverse Educators’ Class Inequalities Awareness Toolkit

We are collating a growing bank of resources to support you in how you show up, how you stand up and how you speak out, on matters pertaining to class inequality and classism. Here are some questions to reflect on:
  • How do I challenge classist comments and stereotyping?
  • How do I champion equality and fight for equity?
  • How do I share any privilege I have to centre those who are marginalised by society and the system?

Blogs

Class Action

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New Economics Foundation - Inequality

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Working class perspectives

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Books

Bloodworth, James. Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain

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Friedman, Sam. The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged

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Gilbert, Ian. The Working: Poverty, Education and Alternative Voices

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Jones, Owen. Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class

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Major, Lee Elliot and Machin, Stephen. Social Mobility and its Enemies

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Moule, Tom. Cracking Social Mobility: How AI and Other Innovations Can Help to Level the Playing Field

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Reay, Diane. Miseducation: Inequality, Education and the Working Classes

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Podcasts

Capitalisnt

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The Proper Class Podcast

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Working People (US Based)

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Resources

Class Action - What is Classism?

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DIDLaw - Social Class in the workplace - the final equality frontier?

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NPR - Why Is It Still OK To 'Trash' Poor White People?

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Tackling Class Discrimination

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Tell Jane - 5 top tips for handling class discrimination in the workplace

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VICE - Chav: the slur that won’t let go

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Videos

Channel 4 News - Social Mobility: Climbing the ladder

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Crash Course Sociology - The impacts of social class (US Based)

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The Guardian - Why being working class is “damaging”

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Jack Monroe - Time to make a difference - TEDx

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