Beyond Class: Societies in Flux

Lifestyle & Belief

Beyond Class Part VII: Is Social Class Still Relevant?

For our final story, we return to Britain, the country where the modern class system was born. Since the 1980s, one prime minister after another has declared Britain to be a “classless” society. At the same time, working class institutions have been vanishing: manufacturing factories have closed, union power legislated away, benefits slashed. Everyone is expected to be middle class. If you’re not, you may be described as “feckless,” “lazy” or the “underclass.” Britain, it turns out, hasn’t become classless. It has just re-invented its own class consciousness.

Lifestyle & Belief

Beyond Class Part V: Indians in America - Caste Adrift

In India, society has traditionally been stratified according to the caste system. Caste has its roots in scripture, but over the years it has expanded into many spheres of Indian life: work, education and, most recently, politics. Today, many urban Indians ignore caste, except when it comes to choosing a marriage partner. But abroad, some upper caste Indians have a nostalgic affection for a system that favored their forefathers.

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