The Social Structure of England Part II

In the second of a two part series, G.D.H. Cole analyses and compares several sets of census data to guage an accurate portrait of class demographics in Britain.

I pointed out in the previous article in this series that Dudley Baxter, in 1867, assigned less than a quarter of the population to the upper and middle classes together, and more than three-quarters to the working classes, despite the fact that he assigned all shop assistants, as well as all clerks, to the middle group. As against this I pointed out that in a recent public opinion poll more than half the numbers who answered described themselves as belonging to the upper and middle classes. I do not suggest that the two estimates can be at all closely compared, the later being purely subjective and the earlier an attempt at objective classification; but there is clearly good reason to say that, over the period since Baxter wrote, there has been a big increase not only in the relative numbers working in “blackcoat” occupations but also in the proportion in the higher and middle ranges of non-manual employment. At any rate, this is true of each sex, taken separately. Among women, the two outstanding developments have been the incursion into the higher ranges of professional work and the vast increase in clerical employment.

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