The appearance earlier this week of ‘The Great British Class Calculator’ on the BBC website has been the subject of some discussion. Replacing 3 classes by 7 led me to wonder where I would be placed, so I thought I would give it a try. I had no particular expectations from this, but thought that as someone with a fairly senior university post, and an interest in culture (theatre, opera, classical music and art) as well as more modern social pursuits like social networking and blogging, I might score reasonably. Well, that was what I thought! As it was, I was in for a surprise.
The calculator consists of questions on your salary and savings, whether you own or rent your house, what your interests are, and who your friends are. Inevitably most of my friends are in professional jobs, and I’ve mentioned my interests above. Although university staff are not paid particularly well in the UK, my salary is reasonable, and I have some savings. Looking good so far? Well, maybe not, because it seems that the fact that I rent my flat (partly for convenience and partly because I see no point in tying up most of my resources in a house that I have no-one to inherit) is a serious issue.
So, having completed the calculation, it seems that I am an Emergent Services Worker. This class is characterised by being made up of mainly young people (I’m 56!); the fact that I rent seems to have been the deciding factor. But how can a University Reader, with 30 years experience and a reasonable international research reputation, be an Emergent Services Worker? I invite the designers of the calculator to review their algorithms!
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