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BBC launches Uni collaboration into Britain’s class system

26 Jan 2011

Take part in nationwide interactive survey and receive a detailed report on your scores

The Great British Class Survey aims to be the largest study of its kind ever conducted in the UK, and is the first interactive commission by BBC Current Affairs. It is part of a wider BBC Current Affairs investigation into class, which also includes two documentaries on BBC TWO*.

The project is a unique collaboration between the journalists of BBC Current Affairs, BBC Lab UK and prominent experts on class. It was designed by leading British sociologists Professor Mike Savage of the University of York and Professor Fiona Devine of The University of Manchester, in collaboration with BBC Lab UK. Both Professors are associated with the ESRC funded Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) based at The University of Manchester.

The unique survey asks the British public to help answer important questions about class in Britain today. Many academics agree that the traditional model of class, with a clearly defined ‘working’, ‘middle’ and upper’ divisions, is no longer relevant. So the survey will examine if we still have a class system and, if so, what kind it is.

Until now, most major studies have focused on economic factors such as wealth and occupation, and social factors such as networks of personal contacts to determine class. But there is increasing evidence to suggest that our interests and hobbies – or ‘culture’ - can also influence our life chances. For the first time, this study will investigate all three factors together.

Participants will answer questions that examine a wide and intriguing range of topics. The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete, after which participants will receive a detailed report that reveals how they scored on the three factors - economic, social and cultural. They will also be able to compare themselves to the UK population as a whole.

The results of the survey will be revealed later in 2011 as an interactive visualisation that will allow the public to explore the findings from every angle.

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* The BBC Two films broadcast around the launch of the survey examine what it takes to get on the career ladder in today’s Britain and who has access to the best jobs, including that of Prime Minister:

  • In ‘Posh & Posher: Why Public School Boys Run Britain’ (BBC Two, Wednesday 26 January, 9pm) Andrew Neil hits the road to find out what’s happening to the background of our leaders and if British politics is dominated by posh people.
  • In ‘Who Gets The Best Jobs?’ (BBC Two, Wednesday 2 February, 9pm) Richard Bilton explores to what level people’s backgrounds still dictate the opportunities open to them in leading professions.