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Classes and CulturesEngland 1918-1951$
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Ross McKibbin

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206729

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206729.001.0001

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The Middle Class (I)

The Middle Class (I)

(p.44) II The Middle Class (I)
Classes and Cultures

Ross McKibbin

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the size, wealth, and changing social composition of the middle class. It looks at the emergence from an essentially Edwardian middle class of a ‘modern’ middle class, which is to some extent aware of its modernity. It explores its relations with the state and other social classes, particularly the working and the extent to which members favoured social movements. The discussion suggests that there were three discrete phases in the middle-class life-cycle, each of which had its own history: 1918–23, 1923–38, and 1938–51. One effect of the Second World War was to associate democracy with the working class, and the predominant notion of democracy thereby became collective rather than individualist. This tended to unite the middle class, new and old, against ‘socialism’, ‘bureaucracy’, and the ‘unions’, as they had been united in the early 1920s.

Keywords:   middle class, life-cycle, composition, anti-working class, Edwardian years, unions

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