Friday, February 15, 2019

Downwardly Mobile

I was listening to Radio Four in the car the other day, (it is a sign of encroaching old age that I increasingly listen to Radio Four rather than Radio One when driving), and heard an interesting listener contribution to discussion about class and social mobility in the UK.  While the programme had looked into the various factors which led to perceptions of social class and affected upward social mobility,which included such things as occupation, education, and the acquisition of 'cultural capital', the correspondent noted that 'downward social mobility' was also possible, based upon these same factors.  They related how, despite possessing educational qualifications and 'cultural capital', (they were a regular consumer of what might be termed 'high culture'), because of their occupation, they frequently found themselves looked down upon, and sometimes entirely excluded from, various social circles.  As soon as they mentioned their occupation, conversation would stop dead and people would drift away from them.  Their experience struck a chord with me as it echoes my own - many years ago, in order to pay my mortgage and other bills, circumstances forced me to take a job which carries little or no prestige and is considered by many to be socially unacceptable.  Indeed, it requires none of the many academic qualifications I hold, (or much intellectual input, to be honest), and, consequently, I have found it hugely frustrating.

Worst of all, people who only know me through the job make assumptions about me: that I'm an idiot, a thug, dishonest or just a complete bastard.  I've been insulted to my face by those who consider themselves as 'socially superior' - they also generally treat me as if I'm something they've scraped off of their shoe.  I once became so exasperated with a solicitor who was trying to exert his social, educational and moral superiority over me that I felt moved to point out that if he wanted to engage in an intellectual pissing contest then he was bound to lose as I was pretty sure that the best he could muster would an LLB or maybe a BA in law, whereas I could trump him with a BA Hons and an MSc.  It's got to the stage where I feel it is pointless applying for other jobs more concomitant with my qualifications as all that prospective employers will see is my current job and write me off as a candidate without reading further, based upon their own prejudices concerning the job.  I do my best in social situations to not say what I do for a living, or try to gloss over it.  As I said before, it is all hugely frustrating - I have the education, I even have some 'cultural capital', (although I'm sure that my predilection for exploitation films and 1970s TV series would condemn me in many social circles).  Yet I'm still regarded as being beyond the pale by many sections of so called 'polite society'.  It's not that I even want to move in such social circles. I'd just like to be shown a bit of respect. and not judged on the basis of something I've been forced to do in order to survive.



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