I’ve been working like a dog: revisiting a 1960s study of the working class

The Beatles’ song A Hard Day’s Night was released 50 years ago today. Its runaway success in the charts overlapped with a major sociological study of the newly-affluent working class that features in Lennon and McCartney’s lyrics. Cambridge historian Dr Jon Lawrence discusses what this study reveals about perceptions of class identity in 1960s Britain.

The researchers appear to have worked with strong existing ideas about class taste which were then mobilised not only to identify workers displaying signs of ’bourgeois’ pretension, but also to place all respondents into a broad class schema based on cultural markers.
Jon Lawrence

In the early 1960s two young Cambridge academics - John Goldthorpe and David Lockwood - embarked on a study of the newly affluent working class. The town they chose to carry out their research was Luton, home of Vauxhall Motors which then employed some 18,000 people. Goldthorpe and Lockwood wanted to capture how greater prosperity was reshaping class divides and their team of investigators