So let us not say that it is a unique English problem. England has always been a country of great social mobility. It has been possible for us to have had a Jewish prime minister in 1880 and a woman prime minister in 1980. That would have been inconceivable in the US.
In America, it’s not about where you are from but where you are at. Here we are so obsessed by class that it is never about where you are at but where you are from.
Plus our class experience is so rooted in slavery, we turned our attention to race instead.
By class I understand an historical phenomenon, unifying a number of disparate and seemingly unconnected events, both in the raw material of experience and in consciousness. I emphasise that it is an historical phenomenon. I do not see class as a "structure", nor even as a "category", but as something which in fact happens (and can be shown to have happened) in human relationships.
More than this, the notion of class entails the notion of historical relationship. Like any other relationship, it is a fluency which evades analysis if we attempt to stop it dead at any given moment and anatomise its structure. The finest-meshed sociological net cannot give us a pure specimen of class, any more than it can give us one of deference or of love. The relationship must always be embodied in real people and in a real context.
I was under the impression that it was all about geography. This meant that I developed quite a line in Canadian jokes (sorry, Canadians, but no one deserves it more).
*cranks Arcade Fire album, raises insulin vial in toast, returns to Ondaatje novel*
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