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Survey on Class

Published:19 March 2008
Fieldwork:7 - 9 March 2008
Theme:Society
Source:Schott's Almanac

Ipsos MORI and Ben Schott of 'Schott's Almanac' have teamed up to explore the British public's attitudes towards Class.

Topline Results

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,054 adults in Great Britain aged 16+
  • Interviews were conducted by telephone between 7-9 March 2008
  • Data are weighted to match the profile of the population
  • Where percentages do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, the exclusion of "don't know" categories, or multiple answers. Throughout the volume, an asterisk (*) denotes any value of less than half a per cent
  • Unless otherwise stated, results are based on all respondents (1,054)
  • Download the data tabulations pdf, 1.1MB

Q1 Most people say they belong either to the middle class or to the working class. Which of these best describes you, middle class or working class?

%
Working Class 52
Middle Class 44
Don't know 3
Refused 1

See also the long-term trend on this and similar questions

Q2 And which social class would you say your parents belonged to when you started primary school?


1989 1996 2008
  % % %
Working Class 75 70 67
Middle Class 21 24 30
Don't know - 3 3
Refused 4 3 *

Q3 Some people alter the way they behave in certain situations to make it appear as if they are in a different class. Have you ever done this?

  %
Yes — a higher class 4
Yes — a lower class 2
Yes — the class depends on the circumstances 11
No, I have not pretended to be in a different class 84
Don't know *

Q4 To what extent, if at all, do you agree or disagree that there is a class system in Britain?

  %
Agree 88
Disagree 10
Don't know 2

Q5-Q6 And do you feel that the class system has become more or less rigid …

  • … since the 2nd World War?
  • … during the last 10 years?
  Since the 2nd World War During the last 10 years
  % %
More rigid 28 31
Less rigid 58 43
Same 7 19
Don't know 8 6

Q7-Q9 Which political party, if any, do you feel best represents the rights of the …

  • … working classes?
  • … middle classes?
  • … upper classes?
  Working classes Middle classes Upper classes
  % % %
Labour Party 39 19 7
Conservative Party 10 46 65
Liberal Democrats 8 7 2
Other 5 2 1
None 21 7 6
Don't know 17 19 19

Q10 How often, if at all, do you feel uncomfortable when dealing with people of a different class to you?

  %
All of the time 2
Some of the time 12
Rarely 24
Never 62
Don't know 1

Q11 How often, if at all, do you think that other people can tell what class you are by the way you speak?

  %
All of the time 27
Some of the time 39
Rarely 13
Never 12
Don't know 8

Q12 Have you ever been in a romantic relationship with someone of a different class to yourself?

  %
Yes — frequently 7
Yes — seldom (at least once) 27
No — never 63
Don't know 3

Q13 Did you find the difference in class to be …

Base: All who have ever been a relationship with someone of a different class (363)

  %
A very big problem 5
A fairly big problem 12
Not much of a problem 40
Not at all a problem 42
Don't know 1

Q14-Q28 Here is a list of things that some people do. For each, would you tell me whether you think it would most likely be done by a working class person, a middle class person, or an upper class person?

  Working class person Middle class person Upper class person Could be any class Don't know
  % % % % %
Watch Coronation Street 45 11 * 40 4
Have an allotment
1991 72 8 n/a n/a n/a
1996 65 17 n/a n/a n/a
2008 52 22 2 20 5
Holiday in Spain
1991 36 20 n/a n/a n/a
2008 37 16 4 41 2
Eat peas with a knife 35 6 13 25 21
Recycle 9 38 2 48 3
Watch a nature programme
1991 8 36 n/a n/a n/a
2008 6 34 4 53 3
Be a vegetarian 3 39 6 49 3
Go to a museum 4 46 8 39 2
Eat in front of the television 48 9 1 40 2
Take the bus 62 9 * 26 3
Go to university 3 40 12 44 1
Watch the news regularly 8 33 4 53 1
Own designer clothes 7 25 30 35 2
Go to football matches 42 12 1 42 2
Buy organic food 2 52 19 25 2
Go to the opera 1 23 61 13 2
Play rugby 9 39 14 37 2
Play cricket 3 41 19 35 2

Q32-Q39 Here is a list of supermarkets. For each, would you tell me who is most likely to shop there, a working class person, a middle class person, or an upper class person?

  Working class person Middle class person Upper class person Could be any class Don't know
  % % % % %
Waitrose 5 39 30 15 11
Sainsbury's 8 53 10 27 2
Tesco 31 30 1 36 2
Morrisons / Safeway 40 26 1 29 4
ASDA 50 18 1 28 4
Iceland 63 12 * 18 7
Somerfield 45 22 1 21 8
LIDL 70 7 1 14 8

Q40-Q46 Do you agree or disagree that …

  Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Don't know
  % % % %
There will never be a 'classless society' in Britain
1991 79   14  
2008 68 2 27 2
This country has too many barriers based on social class
1991 76   18  
2008 55 5 37 3
You are much more likely to get to the top in this country if you've been to a private school
1991 69   27  
2008 63 4 32 1
If you want to get ahead it is important to talk with the right accent
1991 59   32  
2008 44 7 47 2
In this country the best people get to the top whatever start they've had in life
1991 49   44  
2008 49 4 44 2
It is easy for people to move up from one social class to another
1991 37   55  
2008 35 9 53 3
I would be happier if I belonged to a different class
1991 9   80  
2008 4 4 90 2

Q47 There has been debate over which is the polite word to use — lavatory or toilet. Which do you think is the more polite usage?

  %
Lavatory 36
Toilet 46
Neither 4
Both 3
It depends 1
Doesn't matter 8
Don't know 3

Q48 And which word do you use most often?

  %
Lavatory 5
Toilet 79
Neither 12
Both 1
It depends 2
Don't know 1

Q49 How often, if at all, do you ever listen to BBC Radio 4?

  %
All of the time 10
Some of the time 20
Rarely 19
Never 51

Q50 Some people have criticised Radio 4 for being too middle class. To what extent do you agree or disagree that Radio 4 is too middle class?

Base: All who ever listen to Radio 4 (529)

  %
Strongly agree 4
Tend to agree 20
Neither agree nor disagree 11
Tend to disagree 33
Strongly disagree 20
Don't know 11
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