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The new mysteries of class

Britain's class structure has become harder to describe. Ferdinand Mount does his best but leaves out the end of empire and the public service elite

By Geoff Dench   December 2004

Reading Ferdinand Mount’s study of the British class system brings home just how far ideas about British society have lagged behind actual changes. Mount has a good command of history and an eye for social conflicts but the templates of class structure he takes off the shelf do not work. They are viable – just about – up to the second world war. When he moves past that, his observations spill awkwardly outside of any coherent framework. This is not his fault alone, but also that of sociologists for failing to update property-based theories of class.

Mount’s book starts out…

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