How has ‘Working Class’ Changed?

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The notion of working class is defined in dictionary terms as ‘the social group consisting of people who are employed for wages, especially in manual or industrial work.’ It is a social group made up of proud people who are the backbone of society. But how much has it changed? Heavy industry has disappeared in many parts of the UK but working-class culture goes far deeper than the factory floor.

Coal mining, Ship building, Steelworks. These three industries alone once employed thousands of people. At one time, in certain parts of the country, it would have been hard to find someone who didn’t know somebody else who wasn’t linked to any of these industries.

As times change, the industry may have dwindled but the mindset remains. A strong working-class ethic is something which never disappears. Perhaps the camaraderie which once blossomed in coal mines or ship yards isn’t the same, but there is still a common denominator. Working hard, side by side in almost any industry or walk or life can be fertile ground for strong relationships. Retail workers, health workers or office work. No matter what it is, work ethic is something which blossoms, no matter what the job.

The office or the shop floor isn’t as secluded as the steel works or down a mine. It doesn’t demand the same physical intensity but that doesn’t mean office workers or retail staff don’t work hard in what they do.

Another concept which I am not a fan of, is members of the older generation complaining that those younger cant grasp a hard day’s work. Of course, it is hard to find work in a coalmine or another equally distant heavy industry when there hasn’t been one open in five years and its been a hell of a lot longer since there were a double figured number of coalmines. This kind of negativity between the generations is boring and unnecessary.

Regardless of the attitude from disgruntled older generations, working class isn’t reserved for them. working class shouldn’t only conjure up images of hardened men striding towards a lift to take them underground. These people were the foundation for society, but times have moved on. The UK has a rich industry of hard-working people, the type of work people do has changed. The end goal is always the same, put the graft in and have pride in what job is done.

The negative attitude towards the working class is uncomfortable. Looking down on people for hard work is everything what is wrong with society. Having pride in what you do, no matter what that is, is one of the basic elements of being a fully functioning human being. It is something which everyone has the right to have a choice in.

There are not many better feelings than working hard on something you are passionate in. It in many cases literally keeps the world training. For anyone to put another person down for their passions is truly dreadful.

Working class mentality stretches beyond the work itself, too. There is a community spirit created from the heavy industries of old which may not be replicated exactly anymore in the 21st century, but it does still bring people together. In a working environment, we are sometimes thrown in at the deep end. Making connections with people around you is important, it doesn’t matter what the industry.

The politics of the times changes how society works. Industries rise and fall, but at the end of the day there will always be the workforce. When Britain’s coalmines closed, the miners didn’t just disappear, did they? These men were forced to adapt to life without an industry which had been a staple part of their families for generations. New industries have come, but the working class society will go from strength to strength and move forward to whatever new industry will come along in the future.

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I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. Passionate writing about politics, culture, sport, society and more

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