I hope the cheesy pun is excused because anyone that knows me well will know that ‘classy’ is not a word which is often associated with myself. I have always had a passion for studying class in society and I wanted to take some time to ponder why that is.
- First of all, I grew up in an old coal mining town in Nottinghamshire. I think the fact that everyone had stories to tell of their relatives going ‘dahn the pit’ subconsciously influenced my interests in class. My home town used to centre around this industry and, despite the pits being closed, the legacies linger on in the town’s physicality and culture.
- My family has a peculiar demographic. My grandparents were a mix of factory workers and a bank manager, so my parents, uncles and aunts all have memories of times being hard but also ones when they weren’t so bad. I think that my family’s own experience over the last 50 years, and their often contradictory stories of it, have meant that I have spent more time considering the relationship between economics and life experience.
- I owe an awful lot to my A Level Sociology teacher. He is the man who first taught me about Karl Marx (he actually had a poster of him on his classroom wall) and he is an active trade unionist. I remember sitting in his lessons discussing education reform, unemployment and privatisation in the 1980s and for the first time feeling like I had a voice and a right to be passionate about my own thoughts. I have always had a lot to say for myself, but prior to these classes I did not really think that my opinions would be able to bring about any sort of change. He brought his lessons to life with a strong commitment to what he believed in and I thank him for that. Being taught post-war British politics by a more conservative History teacher at the same time also helped to give me the space to consolidate my own ideas. The chasm between these two brilliant teachers is where I would pinpoint the beginning of my obsession with studying class.
- Aged 18 I moved to Liverpool to study for a BA in History and Politics. With the first three points securely embedded in my psyche at this point, the fact that the focus of my studies always drifted towards class related issues was inevitable. Particularly as Liverpool’s past offers a plethora of topics to study in this department.