The British Middle Class in One Short Paragraph

Harriet Walker, a columnist for The Independent, was feeling disappointed in herself for not confronting in a social situation someone who expressed political/cultural views she abhored. When she told her “resolutely” middle class British mother what happened, the latter responded:

Its always hard for the middle classes. We’re pushed from the top and the bottom, and to try to change either one’s mindset in a social situation feels rude, and it never goes down well. Being polite and going down well is what the middle classes are proud of.

Harriet reflects “This remains the best simultaneous apology for and defence of the middling sort that I have ever heard”.

Which is I think the perfect analysis of what her mum said, not least because apologizing for and defending oneself at the same time is an essential part of being polite and going down well.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2010.