‘Middle class by profession’: Class status and identification amongst the Black middle classes

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Authors

Abstract

Drawing on data collected during a 2-year Economic and Social Research Council funded project exploring the educational perspectives and strategies of middle-class families with a Black Caribbean heritage, this paper examines how participants, in professional or managerial occupations, position themselves in relation to the label ‘middle class’. Our analysis reveals five distinct groupings: those who are ‘comfortably middle class’, ‘middle-class ambivalent’, ‘working class with qualification’, ‘working class’ and a final group, ‘interrogators’. However, we note considerable commonality and fluidity across these groupings in terms of participants’ reasons for and, in some cases, hesitancy around inhabiting a particular class location. These responses must be understood in the context of the relative newness of the Black middle classes and
respondents’ broadly similar working-class trajectories alongside ongoing experiences of racism within a society that privileges and gives legitimacy to a dominant White middle-class norm. For many, there is not a straightforward way to be Black and middle class.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-275
Number of pages23
JournalEthnicities
Volume13
Issue number3
Early online date20 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013