Clinging On: The Decline of the Middle Classes
Tuesday 3 February
BBC RADIO 4
The salaries of financial service workers based in London are soaring away from those in more traditional professions. At the same time, house prices are rising and so-called 'cling-ons' are being forced out to the peripheries of London and beyond. Many of those who might have aspired to private education for their children find the fees are beyond them.
But does it matter? According to the eminent American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, it definitely does – democracy is dependent on a healthy middle class and without it there is a real threat of instability, with demonstrators taking to the streets even in Britain and America.
David Boyle also talks to the distinguished Oxford sociologist John Goldthorpe, who worries that there is no room at the top for today's aspiring young. Tatler's deputy editor Gavanndra Hodge explains why even they decided to print a guide to state schools. And the programme visits Liverpool College, the great Victorian public school, which decided to cross the great divide and become an academy within the state system.
Middle class professionals describe problems buying a house on two doctors' salaries, finding a job as a solicitor and raising the money to pay school fees, and even how an architect's life can be a tough one.
Are the professions themselves under threat from technology that undermines traditional ways of working? One GP worries that the discretion he once enjoyed is being destroyed by the computer.
Presenter and writer/ David Boyle for Jolt Productions
BBC Radio 4 Publicity
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