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Social Class in Contemporary Britain - Book Report/Review Example

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(Emberson, 2003) This article is interesting for a number of reasons. First, as the authors are basically medical experts rather than sociologists, they assume that the division between classes as revealed by a man's occupation is a legitimate method of dividing a population.
Thus social class is considered to be a discrete and definable concept by the authors. If it is not, then the whole premise of their study is based upon rather faulty ground. The article begins by stating that CHD rates have fallen over the last twenty years but that the fall has been concentrated among the "highest social groups" so that the relative differences between those of that at the "top" and those at the "bottom" of the social scale have widened. The article states that social class (as determined by job occupation) is often used as a convenient and available indicator of the underlying socioeconomic factors. Thus social class is related to the occupation, which in turn is related to money.
The authors assume that social classes it easily defined by the person themselves, even though they admit that people social class may actually change over time because, over the twenty years the occupation is likely to change. A person may enjoy a move from low to high class or may suffer from a move from high to low class. In very interesting part of this study is that at the baseline each man was asked about his longest held occupation in terms of type designation, and social status. The distribution observed in the study was almost exactly the same as that obtained for national census data recorded around the same time.
The similarity between the two findings suggest that people are very good at identifying the social class to which they belong. This may suggest that social class, far from being of less importance in Britain today is actually something that is still considered on a constant basis by people from all walks of life. The study showed that there were real differences between low class and high class men. Manual men tend to have higher blood pressure, are considerably more likely to be cigarette smokers and heavy drinkers, and are less likely to be physically active in their leisure time. Manual man tended to be shorter than the non-manual men and had a lower lung function. The study concluded that the changes in the coronary heart disease could be put down to changes within the behavior of the upper class men rather than among the manual men. The upper class men tended to be more knowledgeable about health matters and took better care of themselves than the manual men.
It can be seen that a health study that used social class as a tool rather than it being the central point of the study is very helpful in showing that social class differences are indeed important within Britain today.

Approach Two: A Government Document
Currently the government in Britain thinks that social class exists in a very real form. A government minister has been appointed whose specific task is to look of the problems caused by social class. Hillary Armstrong is the Cabinet Minister for Social Exclusion. The very existence of this post is telling. The ...Show more
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Summary

Social class is a subject of particular importance within contemporary Britain as the country has seen great demographic changes over the last few decades that might produce tension and conflict if not carefully studied and understood. The classic divisions between upper, middle and lower class have been remarkably resilient within modern research, although they are now starting to be evaluated in more subtle and nuanced manners.
Social Class in Contemporary Britain
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