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Working Class - Book Report/Review Example

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In her article in The Contemporary British Society Reader, Beverley Skeggs explores the idea that working class women will tend to avoid the label society gives them (Abercrombie and Warde, 2001). The author commanded a study that involved 83 young working women who had little education yet were pursuing degrees and other educational programs…
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Download file to see previous pages Several of the women had very negative connotations with the label and believed that people would think much less of them if they were to be a part of this group.
Sheenah, one of the study subjects, had this to say of people with the working class nametag: "They're dead scruffy and poor and they haven't got a job but I guess they're working if they're working class" (Ibid. p.119). Skeggs blames this blatant misunderstanding of the class categories on Thatcherism, more specifically the fact that 'working class' has turned into 'underclass' to many people in Britain. Because of these many negative connotations with being working class, the women in Skeggs' study have tended to never even speak of class structure directly, but rather to allude to it and realise that they are suffering the consequences silently. The overall impression that these women gave to Skeggs is what she refers to as 'disidentification'.
Disidentification refers to the tendency of women on the whole to not speak of class structure. Skeggs and other researchers have found that especially among women who were questioned on the intricacies of class standing, the overall inclination is to avoid the subject if you are working class, and to delve right in if you are middle class. These differences were surprising to Skeggs, who felt that working class women were actually embarrassed by their social standing although they would rarely openly admit their particular class ranking.
It's understandable that since so many working class women believe the class is negative in relation to middle or even upper class, they refuse to discuss the matter and instead frantically try to disengage themselves from the label. Each of the women that Skeggs included in her twelve year study was intent on taking up further education and extending herself beyond the working class strata she was originally a part of. By undertaking college courses, these women were actively trying to change what they didn't feel comfortable speaking about: their class standing. Skeggs points out that college enrolment was almost mandatory with young working class women, and this feature of the group is directly related to an embarrassment of being 'working class', and a desire to break away from that label. Until they have secured middle class standing, these women have completely disidentified with their original status.
Material possessions seemed to add to the burden of embarrassment for these women. When describing their homes to Skeggs, invariably the attitude was of shame at the lack of new furnishings. Janice, one of the research subject, was quoted as saying, "A lot of the stuff in here is just rubbish that our family gave me. It's like I'd never be caught dead with that sofa" (Ibid. p. 122). These sentiments are echoed by many of the women in the study, and it is clear that these women have developed a feeling that their hand-me-down furniture, appliances and basic home essentials are not good enough for them. This is a fundamental class distinction between these women and the generation immediately before their own; that of their parents. Skeggs points out that the negative attitude towards such possessions belies one of two factors: either the girls are looking for a challenge to their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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