Respectable: The Experience of Class
April 27, 2016 @ 19:00 - 21:00 BST£5
Society is often talked about as a ladder, from which you can climb from bottom to top. The walls are less talked about. This book is about how people try to get over them, whether they manage to or not.
In autumn 1992, growing up on a vast Birmingham estate, the sixteen-year-old Lynsey Hanley went to sixth-form college. She knew that it would change her life, but was entirely unprepared for the price she would have to pay: to leave behind her working-class world and become middle class.
Class remains resolutely with us, as strongly as it did fifty years ago, and with it the idea of aspiration, of social mobility, which received wisdom tells us is an unequivocally positive phenomenon, for individuals and for society as a whole. Yet for the many millions who experience it, changing class is like emigrating from one side of the world to another: a lonely, anxious, psychologically disruptive process of uprooting, which leaves people divided between the place they left and the place they have to inhabit in order to get on. In this empathetic, wry and passionate exploration of class in Britain today, Lynsey Hanley looks at how people are kept apart, and keep themselves apart – and the costs involved in the journey from ‘there’ to ‘here’.
Lynsey Hanley was born in Birmingham and lives in Liverpool. She is the author of Estates: An Intimate History, and she is a regular contributor to the Guardian and the New Statesman.
Mike Savage is Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics. He wrote Social Class in the 21st Century in collaboration with the team of sociology experts behind the Great British Class Survey.