Any reader of Jane Austen or George Eliot — and, more recently, Zadie Smith — is familiar with Britain's class system, by which Britons sort themselves, either ironically or seriously, into rigidly-defined castes, based on things like education, type of employment, and wealth. In order to sort out the confusion inherent to such a system, the BBC wrote an interactive calculator to determine which class you belong to (or would belong to if you were British). To make this work, the British news service designated seven different classes: Elite, Established Middle Class, Technical Middle Class, New Affluent Workers, Traditional Working Class, Emergent Service Workers, and Precariat — meaning "precarious proletariat" — and wrote up a questionnaire. The result looks like this:
Those colored slices track three different kinds of capital: actual money, social status, and cultural knowledge. (Each class, so the BBC's theory goes, carries a certain amount of each.)
The calculator is distinctly British. Part of the questionnaire, for example, asks if you regularly "go to stately homes." Answering yes instantly increases your cultural capital. Still, according to the BBC, it captures just how antiquated the notion of a traditional class system is. "20th century middle-class and working-class stereotypes are out of date," concluded a study on which the calculator is based. "Only 39 percent of participants fit into the Established Middle Class and Traditional Working Class categories."
That doesn't mean it's not fun, in maybe a weird way, to plug in the life details of famous (and fictional) Britons and see exactly which class they best fit into. Here's the result (with some guessing required, since we're not 100 percent sure if British spies use Twitter) for movie assassin James Bond:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.