Thursday, October 22, 2009

Council Estate Christians 24: More on using class categories

Earlier I wrote about the difficulties in using class categories.

Today I read this article in the news about stopping welfare benefits for middle class people.

It was interesting to me for two reasons:

1) Middle Class was defined as "[Reform' defines middle class as a household where the total income equates to £15,000 a year for each adult and £5,000 per child." Which for a 2 child family would be £40,000.

2) It is amazing to me that in the UK we give benefits to people on £40,000!

But I'm only writing about point 1 today, and I'm really thinking aloud here so don't shoot me!

In the article they've used the term 'middle class' in a very narrow way - in financial terms, and I see why. It makes a lot of sense in their context. When you are trying to work out where to draw the line on benefits - you're going to do it with regards to income - not your accent.

So this got me thinking that it may be helpful to deliberately use the terms 'middle class' or 'working class' in narrow ways depending on what we are talking about. For example:

If I am highlighting the cultural differences between middle class and working class Christians - then it may be helpful to use these terms, and also to explain that I am referring to culture. If on the other hand I am pointing out that wealthy churchs have a responsibility to help poor churches - then maybe its helpful to use the terms middle and working class - and again to define it in economic terms.