I think this is very interesting and I think it still holds today, perhaps even more than one might think. It's retreated, it's retrenched, but I think it's still very much present at a less conscious level, which makes it almost worse, perhaps, than it was before. People may be making unconscious connections or judgement without quite realizing the extent of OKOPosity going on.

My situtation is almost identical to yours, down to my background vs my OH's and its been a learning process, that's for sure.


In Chile there is definitely a severe class consciousness. Your address is who you are in some ways. Your skin color and which of the malls you prefer, where you vacation, the schools your relatives attend, not only the words you use but also the way you pronounce them (Chile vs. Shile), which form of the 2nd person you use (ud. vs. tĂș vs. voh) ... not to mention the hierarchy of surnames. Though I was aware of class as a child in the US, my own understanding of class prejudice in the US has been formed by the much more explicit prejudice in Santiago.


The rich vs. wealthy thing is fascinating to me. I'm British, and grew up in a very working-class family: tenant farmer, neither parents went to school beyond 16 (15 for my father infact), and from an area with a strong rural accent. However, I somehow managed to grow up without the accent, and have been told many times that I have a very upper-class, snobby voice. This has undoubtedly made it easier for me to make friends and mix with those from "better" backgrounds. But I would have thought that "wealthy" was better than "rich", and likewise "preserve" more sophisticated than "jam". Luxury goods manufacturers also seem to be making this mistake, though "conserve" is seen more and more frequently now.

Regional accents have become a lot more acceptable in the UK in recent years - you almost never hear the received pronunciation "BBC voice" any more, and even BBC Radio 4, a supposed bastion of upper-class Britishness, is now awash with local colour. An example of the popularity of "common" accents is Jamie Oliver, a television chef. (I don't know if his shows are broadcast in the US?) He talks with this (dreadful, I think) "Mockney" accent. It is close to Cockney, which originates in the East End of London (as in "Pygmalion", or (very badly reproduced) in "My Fair Lady"), but it isn't true to the original, hence "mock".

There are other factors which distinguish working class from upper class though. For instance, one of my friends was dating a guy from a very wealthy (rich? :) ) family, and she was terrified of having dinner with his family. She was used to eating off a tray in front of the TV, they sat round a dinner table laden with different knives and forks. She was petrified of making a cutlery faux pas, never mind talking to the family! It is factors like that which are more significant in social situations I think - she probably seemed very nervous and lacking in confidence, which is not true of her real self at all.

Anyway, a few unsorted thoughts. In short - "classes" and class indicators still exist and can have an effect on ones prospects, since they may prevent people from being at ease and thus presenting themselves in the best possible light.


PS Surely "I'm an OKOP" is grammatically incorrect, Happy?! ;)

The Happy Feminist

When you're an OKOP, you can break the rules. Sniff. (I say "wealthy" too. I think the reason that it's on the "non-U" list is that it may have once sounded precious, as though one were trying to dance around the issue of whether someone had money. I think it's lost that connotation.)

Yes, we do indeed get Jamie Oliver here. I used to watch the Naked Chef faithfully -- I always thought his accent was part of his charm. Does "Mockney" mean he's faking it a little bit, or does it just refer to the region he's from?


Absolutely! Cockneys are supposed to be working class, and in days gone by, of course, people tried to make their accent sound more upper class if they wanted to get on in life. In contrast, pop stars and the like try to play up (or just make up) their working class roots these days. An easy way of associating oneself with a group is to use its language etc., hence the rise of "Mockney", a portmanteau of "mock" and "cockney". The cockney identity was originally regional, see the Wikipedia entry, but these days is at least as much about class. So someone not of the working class but trying to talk like they are a working class Londoner is "mockney". I'm sure you are right that Jamie's accent is supposed to be endearing, but I just find it irritating. It seems wholly dishonest to me to try and pretend disadvantages you have never suffered.

The Happy Feminist

I agree! I didn't realize he was faking. How disappointing.

Mick Jagger is supposed to be a faker too, isn't he?


Mrs. Blythe, an Englishwoman, had a post recently about class distinctions that I thought was very interesting:


Heh. HTML. Right.

Mrs. Blythe's post


You're probably correct in asserting that being "of a certain class" is less important than it used to be. And this is probably a good thing. One thing I worry about though, is the anti-intellectual trend I sometimes see. I've been made fun of by people because I used a "big" word or because I have gotten good grades or tried hard in school. I think this kind of reverse classism is counter-productive. It's not as though I go around shunning people with smaller vocabularies or those who don't have at least 3.0 GPA.

People will automatically hate the people who went to Harvard because we assume they think they're better than us, and have never had to work hard. It's as though we regular people feel threatened by others who may be more affluent or smarter, and do our best to disguise our affluence or intelligence so that other people will not be threatened by us and like us.

Look at the way our beloved president expresses himself in order to avoid apprearing hoity-toity, so he can appeal the "common" man! It makes me want to barf.

As a side point, WASP stands for White Anglo Saxon Protestant. I'm sad to report that the W does not stand for "wealthy" and S does not stand for "snob" or the A for "ass." If ONLY W stood for "wealthy." Geeze. In fact most of the glitterati aren't WASPs at all anymore. But that doesn't make their OKOP thing any less offensive.

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