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Inspired by this question, I suspect that my lower class childhood has left a mark. As I near the end of my degree, and a complete career change, it seems an ideal time for an image makeover. I’m wondering which traits and behaviours might cause some people (specifically employers rather than potential partners) to categorise someone as lower class? What are some positive or neutral behaviours of the upper class that could be adopted to make a person’s class unidentifiable?

posted by b33j to Human Relations (70 answers total) 92 users marked this as a favorite

Here in the US, consciously adopting upper class affectations makes you look pompous. The tendency here is exactly the opposite: for the upper classes to play down, not for the lower classes to try to play up. But there’s a cultural aversion to class differentiation here in the US overall.

I was under the impression that was the case in Australia, too, for the same reason: a conscious rejection of European class consciousness.

My general attitude about that kind of thing: if someone rejects me for my perceived social class, then they’re probably not someone I would want to associate with anyway.

posted by Class Goat at 4:47 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Entitlement or expectation underlie some behaviors of the empowered classes. The grittier aspects of life that depend on others must run smoothly, transparently, without any effort on your part. On the flip side, demonstrating servitude or compliance in deference to others places you in a lower class.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:48 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Uh, I was thinking about things like holding cutlery but I didn’t want to narrow it down and get suggestions just for books on etiquette. I don’t want to emulate an upper class, just avoid employers (not friends or partners) making assumptions about me due to my class.

posted by b33j at 4:55 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I’m wondering which traits and behaviours might cause some people (specifically employers rather than potential partners) to categorise someone as lower class?

Poor grammar, both spoken and written. If you have yellow/brown/missing teeth, people will never assume you are rich.

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 5:01 PM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

If you are indeed from Australia, then I think much of what would categorise someone as ‘lower class’ (although I think ‘bogan’ would be a much more appropriate term) would be their habits more than their behaviours. Drink VB or XXXX, love the V8s, have a Holden jacket? That’d put you squarely in Boganville. Love your Barossa reds or Clare Valley whites, go to the Arts Festival, can’t wait for that production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to come through? I think you’re more in the ‘upper class’ (although I don’t think I’ve ever actually used that term here).

But I think, for the most part, these habits and behaviours are just the large strokes and that most people wont get too hung up on them. By the criteria I just mentioned, I’m a good fit in the wine crowd and would be quite out of place at the Clipsal 500. That being said though, I have some good friends who loudly and proudly identify as 100% pure Boganus Australis. Sure, at first, neither of us thought we had much in common, but all it takes is time. If you’re at a job interview and are worried about coming across badly, instead of trying to disguise yourself as someone different, just emphasize the parts of you that are most attractive to an employer. For example, I think most ‘lower class’ (again, it’s an awkward term) people are far more open to strangers and willing to chat (think Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle), so that could be something you really stress in an interview. Heavily accented speech, overuse of slang or casual cursing, or poor diction can be indicators.

posted by netbros at 5:08 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ignatius J. Reilly, dental care varies throughout the world. Even then, you can have great teeth without ever having to visit a dentist, some are lucky that way.

I’d say diet is a pretty huge thing. Wash yer ‘ands an’ face, an’ remember that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.

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