Monday, February 04, 2019

The Class Ceiling review – why it pays to be privileged

What affects whether you get promoted? Not just your ability, argue sociologists Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison

The review below is quite a perceptive account of the skills needed to fit in with the people at the top of British society.  More than a formal education is needed.  Lots of small stuff has to be known too. Most of the people concerned learned it at their "public" schools but if you did not go to one of those you just have to grit your teeth and learn it all if you really want to fit in. 

It can be done but it may not be easy.  You really may need to know who G.W.F. Hegel was -- to quote the example below.  I did during my time in England and I experienced no social barriers.  And above all, you have to acquire an acceptable accent. 

Something only hinted at below but which is of first-rate importance is self-confidence. The public schools do a remarkable job  of instilling self-confidence into their pupils so you need to have that too.  I did and do.

What the authors below wrongly deny is the role of ability. Ability may in fact be everything, even if education is not. Top people are generally bright -- so class manners and customs are largely the manners and customs that come naturally to high IQ people.  A lot of the class behavior is just high IQ behaviour.  So ability is much more important than it seems. If you are naturally in the high IQ category, the "right" reflexes and responses will largely come to you with little or no effort.  You will not have to grit your teeth at all to learn what you need to know.

That may all be deplorable but it is how the world is and there in no likelihood of it changing

Social mobility is not a myth, but meritocracy is a sham. It is possible, though difficult, to come from a working-class background and enter the elite professions, but, as sociologists Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison point out in this innovative study, you will find it harder to progress and you’ll earn less money, even when you have the same degree from the same university as someone with more privileged beginnings. On average, in fact, you’ll earn £7,000 a year less.

If you’re a black British woman with working-class origins, the “class pay gap” for those working in top jobs is an astonishing £20,000. If you’re a white upper middle-class man, the path to the top is as smooth as ever. But how does this happen? To adopt a phrase from Pierre Bourdieu, the French sociologist to whom the authors’ work is indebted – how does “social reproduction” at the top occur?

This is the first book to combine an analysis of earnings data from the large-scale Labour Force Survey with many of the findings from the Great British Class Survey, an online questionnaire hosted on the BBC website in 2011. Friedman and Laurison met while working on the latter survey. Both became convinced that objective data alone could not get to the bottom of why vast pay gaps persist between people of differing social positions, even when they are doing similar jobs.

In the case of the creative industries, being told that their employment practices are classist, racist and sexist would irritate and anger most senior staff, even when they implicitly accept the reality. Take their case study of one of the major TV companies, which they disguise as “6TV”, who, in the words of one self-employed – and underemployed – working-class actor, are “all these middle-class people making … working-class programme[s]”.

The creative industries’ diversity problem is obvious from the outset. It is partly about behaviour, an easy switch between the demotic and more rarefied. Senior commissioners at 6TV can put their boxfresh trainers up on the desk and swear freely, but only because they know how to do it at the right time and in the “right” context.

Friedman and Laurison’s interviews illustrate the power of “studied informality” – essentially the way in which working class ways of being have been ruthlessly appropriated by the upper middle-class as a way to make money and cachet from authenticity. 6TV’s commissioners pride themselves on programming that connects with “real people”, living “real lives” in ‘real places’. At the company’s gladiatorial commissioning meetings, where programme ideas get thrashed out, the most coveted skill is a kind of highbrow banter. You can proclaim, as one commissioner does, that “We’re talking about TV … it’s not Hegel!”, but you still have to know who Hegel is and to know how to get a laugh out of bringing up his name.

In other words, the authors highlight the multiplying effects of factors that privilege the already privileged. It’s not just that having rich parents makes your upbringing well resourced, which in turn makes you less risk-averse, secure in the knowledge that you have money to fall back on. It means being used to dinner settings with more than one fork. It means going to schools where the stock in trade is the cultivation not of passionate argument but of dispassionate debating skills – because none of it really matters, does it Boris? Wordplay, wit, highbrow references, and above all, the display of lightly worn intelligence deployed to raise a knowing chuckle, are the real currency of the professional elite.

Friedman and Laurison end their study with 10 suggestions for elite employers wishing to make their workplaces more representative of the society we live in. Perhaps the most significant of the 10 is the authors’ instruction to do away with the practice of senior staff informally identifying “favourites” and selecting them for promotion, as this tends to lend weight to interpersonal skills – would you go skiing with him or her? – over professional competency.

Reading The Class Ceiling hit home in so many places I felt bruised by the end. As the authors note in their conclusion, social mobility hurts, to the extent that it can sometimes feel that it outweighs the (hard-won) benefits. Earning less money than your more privileged colleagues, when you arguably need it more than they do, is only the final insult. In the words of the writer Annette Kuhn, quoted here, “class is something beneath your clothes, under your skin, in your reflexes, your psyche, at the very core of your being”. [In other words, it is high IQ]


How limericks became a police matter in Britain

Outside Muslim countries, Britain must now be one of the most intolerant societies on earth.  I have no intention of ever again going to Britain so maybe I can nail my colours to the mast:  I think transgender people are mentally ill -- and as a highly qualified psychologist I think I have some basis for saying that.  They should be treated kindly but should be encouraged to adapt to us rather than vice versa

After that, if ever I do step off the plane at Heathrow I may well be met by the British police. Free board and lodgings, I guess: Not to be sneezed at in London

Harry Miller, a docker from Humberside in northern England, was subjected to 34 minutes of questioning by police in order to ‘check [his] thinking’ on trans issues. A police officer said that 30 of Miller’s tweets had the potential to offend, but singled out an anti-trans limerick that Miller had retweeted. It opens with the following lines: ‘You’re a man. / Your breasts are made of silicone / Your vagina goes nowhere.’ While Miller’s retweet did not constitute a crime, it was recorded as a ‘non-crime hate incident’.

When Miller protested that he did not even write the offending limerick, the officer retorted that Miller ‘liked it and promoted it’. In other words, simply holding a particular view on a hugely contentious political issue, not even necessarily expressing it in your own words, is grounds for a police investigation. Helpfully, the police officer gave the official view that we should all adopt if we want to stay on the right side of the law. According to his training, ‘sometimes, a woman’s brain grows a man’s body in the womb and that is what transgender is’.

This will have a chilling effect on discussion of trans issues – Miller told the Telegraph that he has been inundated with messages from people saying they are ‘terrified’ of police action for expressing their views on the subject.

While the police’s latest foray into investigating thoughtcrime has angered many, Keith Hunter, Humberside’s police and crime commissioner, failed to understand what the fuss was about. This was a ‘reasonably proportionate response… following national guidance on such issues’, he tweeted.

Indeed, the scary thing is that there is nothing unique or unusual about the case of the trans limerick being treated as a ‘non-crime hate incident’. Occurrences such as a dog pooing on a neighbour’s lawn, a man saying he intended to campaign for Brexit and a speech on immigration by then home secretary Amber Rudd have all been recorded as hate incidents.

A non-crime hate incident is any incident or occurrence that is perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice by the victim or any other person. Perception, not proof, is the deciding factor. According to the College of Policing’s Hate Crime Operational Guidance, ‘the victim does not have to justify or provide evidence’ of their belief that the perpetrator acted in hostility or prejudice, and police officers ‘should not directly challenge this perception’. In other words, what constitutes a hate incident is totally subjective, but cannot be questioned once the allegation has been made.

Police recorded 94,098 hate incidents in the year 2017-18, a 17 per cent rise on the previous year and a record number. The figure rises every year as police forces actively encourage the reporting of non-crimes. Despite the often breathless media reports decrying a ‘rising tide of hate’ in post-Brexit Britain, the Home Office has cautioned that the rising figures should not be interpreted as a genuine increase in hateful acts. (Actual hate crimes, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, an alternative to police-recorded statistics, have fallen by 40 per cent over the past decade.)

Some police chiefs have expressed frustration at being drawn into ‘petty squabbles over the remote control’, ‘the dispute in the playground’, and the ‘row on Facebook’. Nevertheless, the overall trend points towards more recording and monitoring of non-criminal incidents, and even an expansion of the police’s remit into perceived thoughtcrimes. A review by the Law Commission, commissioned by the government, recommends adopting a definition of hate crime and hate incidents that would include prejudice towards men, the elderly and even goths.

The way things are going, any interaction between people could potentially become a police matter, should a self-declared victim or a witness decide that something offensive happened. In Britain, in 2019, George Orwell’s thoughtcrime has arrived.


It isn’t TERFs who are bigoted – it’s their persecutors

TERF = trans-exclusionary radical feminist, feminists who think men cannot become women

The censorship of trans-sceptical views is the definition of bigotry.

Five years ago, if someone had told you it would soon become tantamount to a speechcrime to say ‘There are two genders’, you would have thought them mad.

Sure, we live in unforgivably politically correct times. Ours is an era in which the offence-taking mob regularly slams comedians for telling off-colour jokes, demands the expulsion from campus of speakers who might offend students’ sensibilities, and hollers ‘Islamophobe’, ‘homophobe’ or ‘transphobe’ at anyone who transgresses their moral code on anything from same-sex marriage to respecting Islam. (A phobia, we should always remind ourselves, is a mental malaise, a disturbance of the mind. How very Soviet Union to depict your opponents essentially as mentally diseased.)

And yet for all that, surely it would never become a risky business to utter the opinion: ‘There are men and women and that’s all.’ Well, that has now happened. It is now looked upon as hateful, sinful and phobic, of course, to express a view that has guided humanity for millennia: that humankind is divided into two sexes, and they are distinctive, and one cannot become the other.

Say that today in a university lecture room packed with right-on millennials and watch their faces contort with fury. Write it in a newspaper column or blog post and witness the swift formation of a virtual mob yelling for you to be fired. Say it on TV and there will be protests against you, petitions, demands that you and your foul, outdated ideology be denied the oxygen of televisual publicity.

Consider what happened with Graham Linehan. Last week, Linehan, the comedy writer behind Father Ted, The IT Crowd and Black Books, appeared on Prime Time, a current-affairs show on RTE in Ireland, to discuss the rising number of young people being diagnosed as transgender. And the trans lobby went berserk.

Like many people – most of whom understandably keep their concerns to themselves – Linehan is worried that telling kids they were born in the wrong body might screw them up rather than help them out. It is indeed worrying that growing numbers of young people are being told they are gender dysphoric and in some cases are being offered therapeutic and even medical intervention to stop them from proceeding in ‘the wrong gender’.

Some trans kids are being given puberty-blocking drugs that prevent them from developing normally. Young girls who are convinced they are boys are binding their breasts. Boys who might simply be exhibiting gay-like behaviour are increasingly likely to be told that maybe they are really girls and should perhaps have some kind of intervention. What happened to the old cry, ‘Gay is okay’?

It is perfectly natural – good, in fact – that some people have deep reservations about this strange new crisis of gender, this trend for diagnosing wrong-body syndrome among people who might just be confused about their sexuality or worried about puberty or unhappy in some other way.

Feminists, for example, are worried that the politics of transgenderism will allow male-born people to enter what were once considered female-only spaces and even to take certain roles and jobs away from women. In the UK feminists have set up groups like Woman’s Place to make the case against allowing people who were born male to ‘self-ID’ as women – that is, where the law would allow any man to identify as a woman and would put pressure on employers and institutions to recognise the validity of his (sorry, her) womanhood.

This will mean born-males getting on to all-women shortlists in the world of party politics, they argue. It will mean born-males waltzing into women’s toilets and changing rooms. And it will mean men in women’s prisons. It already does, in fact. Men who identify as women have been incarcerated with women, and it has had disastrous consequences in some cases. In 2017, Karen White – who was born Stephen Wood – was placed in the female prison of New Hall in West Yorkshire. Despite being a convicted paedophile, rapist and sexual assaulter of women. While at New Hall, White / Wood assaulted two female inmates.

It is right that people are asking questions about all of this. And it is wrong – wrong, censorious and dangerous – that trans activists and their numerous influential allies in the world of politics, the academy, the media and the celebrity set want to shut such questions down by rebranding them as a form of ‘hate speech’.

Indeed, in mentioning Karen White’s male name – Stephen Wood – I have committed a transphobic speechcrime. I have ‘deadnamed’ her, and this is apparently a wicked and maybe even criminal thing to do. Linehan was recently warned by police in the UK – by actual police – for, in the words of the Guardian, referring to a trans activist ‘as “he” and for “deadnaming” her by referring to her by names used before she transitioned’. This is the behaviour of a police state. When the police are punishing people for dissenting from the transgender narrative, you know we live in scarily intolerant times. Witness, too, the questioning of a man for the crime of liking a trans-sceptical limerick on Twitter.

This new intolerance was on full display in the Prime Time controversy. Dozens of protesters gathered outside RTE HQ in Dublin last Tuesday to demand that Linehan be ‘omitted’ from the episode that was being broadcast that evening. More than 6,000 people signed a petition demanding his exclusion from the show on the basis that ‘his hateful views have no place in our public discourse’. The activists took particular umbrage at the trailer for Prime Time, which featured Linehan saying: ‘You do not tell kids that they have been born into the wrong body, just as you don’t tell [people with anorexia] that they are fat.’

Omitted, excluded, expelled from public discourse – let’s be clear what these campaigners are calling for. They are demanding the erasure of views they disapprove of. They are calling for the silencing of voices they dislike. They can dress up their agitation in as many PC, progressive-sounding adjectives as they like, but the bottom line is that they are behaving like a McCarthyite mob. They want broadcasters to blacklist anyone who is trans-sceptical.

Don’t pretend that this is driven by a caring, loving, tolerant pro-trans worldview. Because to the rest of us it looks like the precise opposite. It looks like intolerance, in all its nastiness and ugliness, where morally transgressive individuals are denounced as a threat to public safety and are threatened with censorship and even police questioning. It doesn’t matter that Linehan himself is a frequently oafish public commentator who says needlessly offensive things to trans people and who doesn’t understand the crisis of free speech that he himself has become a victim of – witness his reactionary defence of the arrest of Count Dankula for making a jokey video showing a pug doing a Nazi salute. The fact is that even those who are intellectual oafs, offensive and clueless about the importance of liberty, should have their liberties defended.

The Linehan / RTE affair and the broader intolerance of any criticism of the new gender ideology should worry all of us. It should be everybody’s right to criticise the idea that there are 51 genders, or 76, or however many it is now. Everyone should be free to say ‘there are two genders’ or ‘sex cannot be changed’. It should not be a mob-worthy offence to say, ‘Trans women deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else but they are not real women’.

The irony of the new PC intolerance is that the enforcers of it always denounce people as bigots. You aren’t a big fan of Islam? You’re a bigot. You think marriage is for men and women? Huge bigot. You believe a man cannot truly become a woman? Outrageous bigot. And yet bigotry means something quite specific. In the words of the Oxford English Dictionary, bigotry is ‘intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself’. Today, far greater bigotry is displayed by the PC agitators for censorship than it is by the likes of Linehan. Their war on those who hold different opinions to theirs is the living, breathing definition of bigotry.


Australia: 'We are losing our sense of humour': I'm A Celebrity's Tahir Bilgic slams political correctness by saying 'people are offended over the slightest thing'

I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! star Tahir Bilgic, 48, has slammed political correctness, saying the country is losing its sense of humour.

The reality TV star, who is best known for his roles as Habib in comedy shows Fat Pizza and Housos, struck an impassioned tone when discussing the issue.

'We are losing our sense of humour, and the Australian sense of humour is part of the fabric that identifies us as a nation,' Tahir The Daily Telegraph on Saturday.

He continued: 'We were built on being laid-back, knockabout, "don't take life too seriously". But also smart enough to understand not to cross the line.'

The Street Smart actor went on to say that he thinks a small section of 'people offended over the slightest thing' seems to have the greatest impact.

Tahir said he thinks that it is affecting the stand-up comedy scene, and that the loss of humour in the general public has been shockingly stark.

Tahir claimed that shows with diverse casts, such as Channel Ten's Street Smart, appeared be the ones to get the most scrutiny.

In the past, the comedy actor has championed diversity, and he lauded his new show for that aspect.

'The thing with Street Smart, we have such a diverse group,' he told The Daily Telegraph in August.

'We have Vietnamese, Turk, Greek, Indian, Aboriginal, Asian - it is all there and [they're] all playing lead roles. It is incredible. It is a fruit salad.'



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here



ScienceABC123 said...

It's not a new observation. Some people go through life "looking" for something to be offended about. There are just many, many more of them now a days.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to believe that England has come to this.
The English have lost their mind and heart.