• Page 1: Cover sheet
• Pages 2, 3, 4, and 5: The text of your paper – four full pages of text
• Page 6: Bibliography
• Your cover sheet should provide your name and the title of your paper only;
• Your title should be a creative one that you come up with yourself – allowing you to establish the tone for the paper that follows;
• Provide citations for all quotes you take from the Kate Fox book (inc. page numbers), films, or TV shows, and for all references you make to events or incidents in the Fox book, films, TV episodes, and course lectures;
• If using an e-version of Fox’s book, you should provide the chapter number and section title from which a quote comes instead of page numbers;
• Citations can be footnotes, endnotes, or in-text references, whichever format you’re most familiar and comfortable with;
• Your text should be double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, with one inch page margins; insert page numbers in ‘footers’ bottom right;
• Your thesis statement should be in bold or italicized.
Your task in this assignment – worth 20% of your course grade – is to analyze, outline, and explain the differences between the three social classes as they exist in Britain TODAY, providing multiple examples from course materials to illustrate your argument.
Social class in Britain is no longer based in the old, pre-World War II idea of there being three ‘fixed’ social classes – upper, middle, and lower (or working) class, with the automatic deference (for those above you) and condescension (to those below you) these differences in class status demanded. And while social class in today’s society still goes a long way towards determining a person’s lifestyle, the social class a person was born into no longer pre-determines their future, as was generally the case, especially for the working and upper classes, in previous decades.
Nor is class today based solely upon income and money, but includes many other elements too: level of education, mode of speech, expectations of life, and general world view – amongst many others. For example, someone can be wealthy and yet still consider themselves, and be considered by others, to be working class, while others can live on the edge of poverty and still consider themselves, and be thought of by others, as upper class.
Your paper should be in full essay form and NOT just a set of bullet-points or note form of the examples you select. Instead, your paper should have a proper introduction, complete with a clear thesis statement that makes your interpretation explicit, and a proper conclusion that summarizes and draws your findings together.
You should draw on three categories of course materials for your examples. The categories are: 1) course films 2) course sitcoms 3) material from Kate Fox’s book Watching the English. No internet material!
N.B. – The ‘sitcoms’ are the shows listed as sitcoms on the Syllabus. This does not include the ‘Grumpy Guide to Class’ documentary (which should NOT be used).
Failure to include material from each of the above-listed three categories in a balanced manner will result in the loss of your grade associated with that category of material (i.e. a third of your grade for each of the three categories). Plagiarism (i.e. the unacknowledged use of information you found on the internet or in the ‘Grumpy Guide to Class’ documentary), will also be penalized.
In short, you need to draw on the full range of materials presented in this course to give as rounded a picture of the issue of social class in Britain today as possible.
Your paper will be graded according to the following criteria:
1) The clarity of your thesis statement;
2) The strength and persuasiveness of your argument in support of your thesis;
3) Your use of the three above listed types of course materials and only the above-listed three types of course materials to support your argument;
4) The absence of any material sourced from the internet, or from the ‘Grumpy Guide to Class’ shown in class (inclusion of either will be penalized);
5) As this isn’t high school, simply copying and pasting (or paraphrasing) lines or ideas from the question/prompt will lose you points;
6) The elegance and readability of your prose;
7) Correct spelling, grammar, and syntax;
8) The greater variety of course materials you use for your examples;
9) The inclusion of a balanced array of examples, and no tokenism;
10) Adherence to the above-listed format and content guidelines.
Hints and Do’s and Don’ts
Social Class in Britain is a huge and sprawling topic, and one that, as Kate Fox notes in her book, is inter-woven into virtually all aspects of British life. As such I do not expect you to be able to provide a definitive explanation of social class in Britain today in the four pages of this paper! What I do hope you will provide, however, is a reasonable attempt at outlining some of the major aspects of the social class system and how it operates in the 21st century. These comments are thus intended to give you a few pointers in the right direction, and identify a few of the pit-falls to avoid.
• The purpose of the paper is to identify Social Class as it exists in Britain today, not as it existed before World War II. You thus should not include long and involved discussions of the class system as it existed in the 1930s as it was displayed in Gosford Park, Remains of the Day, or Jeeves and Wooster, as that version of the class system no longer exists. But, by comparing these with the films from or set in the 1950s and 1960s, then the sit-coms from the 1970s, and the films from the 1990s (particularly Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Full Monty), you can build up a picture of how social class has evolved over the years.
• There are many ways to approach this topic, but in a paper this size, the most successful ones in the past have been structured in a certain way. Rather than separating your paper into three sections looking at the upper, middle, and working classes in isolation, you are better off identifying some of the most prominent class markers, and then showing the differences between the classes in regards to these markers. One of the most prominent markers of class differences today is language – the words people use, and how they say them. This is a point that Fox spends a lot of time on, and which I have also emphasized and highlighted throughout the course in relation to the different films and sit-coms I have you watch. Your paper simply will not be complete without some reference to language use. Thus, select a handful of class markers, and then explain how they can be used to identify differences between the classes today.
• Another issue that needs to be addressed in your paper is how the structure of the class system has changed, from the three fixed classes of the pre-War years, to the more ambiguous situation of today, where the barriers between classes have become blurred, and the classes have splintered into identifiable sub-classes along a continuum, rather than the old tertiary upper, middle, and lower class system.
• Finally, a pit-fall to avoid: Some students attempt to fulfill the requirements for the assignment by picking only ONE film and only ONE sitcom, and then mining them for all they are worth. Such papers generally drift off into accounts of the plot-lines for the film/sit-com, and thus spend a lot of time talking about irrelevant details that have nothing to do with social class and which do not help to explain it in any way, shape, or form. You are thus better off if you pick a handful of markers of social class and then use a handful of brief examples from several different sources to illustrate that class trait. This approach ensures you are always talking about social class differences and not wasting space on irrelevant details that do not help your argument in any way.