My social streams are full of people I know sharing the results of the BBC’s ‘Great British Class Calculator‘, which works on the theory the traditional split of Upper, Middle and Working class doesn’t accurately reflect society any more, and there are now 7 levels of class which are seemingly based on whether you go to the theatre or like hiphop.
All interesting enough, and you can find out more about the results here.
But I think there’s a more important and interesting point, which is due to the immense impact of current and future technology on our lives.
No social mobility in the future?
Traditionally there’s been some movement possible between classes, although it may have been tough and taken many years or generations to achieve. Certainly the top of the working class and bottom of the middle class was a fairly permeable gap.
Now we’re looking at a near future in which most manual work is automated, objects are accessible via 3D printing, and robotic assistants are likely give us far more leisure time, the question I have is whether this will be possible in the future?
Either the current class position will be stratified, with no means for anyone to improve their situation, removing some motivation. Or it will collapse completely, and we really will see a world in which your Google Glasses will display someone’s status via their Klout score.
What happens to society if there’s no potential for social mobility, even over generations?
Personally I’ve met enough people from all backgrounds, all levels of wealth, and all levels of intellect to suggest that any class-based definition is completely meaningless. And moving to personal advertising, marketing and other targeting from broad demographics means it’s going to be less useful as a segmentation tool.
But what really interests me is what effect self-identification with a group means, and how our aspirations may be affected…