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The Great British class calculator

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 16:53 UK time, Friday, 5 April 2013

We've had a huge response to our class calculator this week, particularly across social media, following a major survey by BBC Lab UK. The survey suggests that traditional categories of working, middle and upper class are outdated and we all fit in to one of seven new classes.

The class calculator - which lets you work out where you might fit in amongst the new categories - has attracted about six million page views on the BBC News site, making it the second most popular article of 2013 to date. (The most viewed article this year has been the helicopter crash in Vauxhall in January.) Nearly 1.9 million of those views have come from those of you accessing the site on mobiles and tablets.

But one thing that really stands out is how widely the story has been shared across social media, with more than 300,000 shares so far. More than a quarter of links to the calculator have come from social networking sites.

More than half a million referrals came from Facebook alone, and about 107,000 from Twitter. This is a much higher number than we usually see shared across social media. If you compare the class calculator with the other top stories of the week, usually about 5% of known referrals come from social media sites.

So why has it proven so popular with our audience? Michael Orwell, a producer at BBC Lab UK, worked closely on the survey and said one of the best things about the project was that the audience contributed to new research with top academics.

The calculator itself, produced by the BBC News Visual Journalism team in collaboration with BBC Knowledge and Learning, lets everyone engage with the new model and discover where they might fit in.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


  • Comment number 1.

    Your class calculator is not useful. Anyone taking it seriously is asleep. It takes no account of education or regional location, both huge influences on income. Shouldn't the BBC be reporting on a serious University or research institute doing this rather than pulling the wool over everyone's eyes?

  • Comment number 2.

    It discovered my roots but not the current actuality no doubt because I am old and deaf (so have given up going to the theatre)

    It's not fit for purpose.

  • Comment number 3.

    The great British

  • Comment number 4.

    I took the test as having an income of less than 25K and was classified Traditional Working Class.
    I am retired and widowed but had my wife still been living our joint net income would have been just over 25K. I repeated the test with this new data and was classified Elite.
    So much for social science as a science.

  • Comment number 5.

    The survey may be relavent for the mix of university attendees, but what about the other 87% of the population.

  • Comment number 6.

    It's useless, I tried it and the result is wildly inaccurate. It tries to group people according to a curious set of unlikely combinations. People use social media regardless of income. It also takes no account of last few years post credit crunch recession realities such as salary £40-50k when in work but out of work much of the time and which has a devastating impact upon savings/debt etc.

  • Comment number 7.

    Complete waste of time - just answer the first question on earnings so answer £100k and you are "elite" whatever you say to any other question. Your class changes accordingly as you choose another income figure. try answering just this question and no others it will always classify you in this ranking?
    Why does the BBC waste licence payers money on generating clap trap like this?

  • Comment number 8.

    It couldn't make its mind up if I was a pleb or a commodity.

  • Comment number 9.

    I tried it twice and as a previous post observes just increasing income appears to be the key variable. I'm disappointed that the BBC news website has this dubious piece of interactive content but seems to be narrowing down the opportunity for people to comment on all the key stories. Just look at the home page - not one main story with a comment thread!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    I thought the results were interesting, though struggle to see the relevance. It would be great if BBC used their social media partnerships to determine what survey participants think they are, and cross-reference that with the survey questions.

  • Comment number 12.

    Steve, any chance of combining this with BBC CoJ's social mapping work? Would be fascinating to see the social class of key influencers and followers on the net.

  • Comment number 13.

    @Meryl - I think the BBC would have done something like that to develop the calculator in the first place.

    @thecat321 - not sure why you're surprised that the income variable influences social class the most. Having said that, I think it would be interesting to see what the relative weightings are of the the different questions on the final class calculation.

  • Comment number 14.

    Don't really think it's rocket science why the class calculator proved to be so popular... it's the same kind of stuff as the tacky personality questionnaires that helps sell popular magazines... everyone is either bored or curious to find out more about where they fit in.


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