Research and discuss classism in England during Victorian Times. What were the social classes of this time? What problems were caused because of classism?
The history of England is characterized by hierarchical classification of people into classes. In most cases, these classes are based on the amount of wealth that an individual controls. Victorian England, during which time Charles Dickens lived, experienced a shift in the social classes. Prior to this period, people mainly acquired wealth through inheritance. Therefore, there was little movement by individuals from one class to the next. If one was born to the low class, one would most likely spend his life in the low class and so would his children. However, during the Victorian era, there was a change in the class system. During this period, the industrial revolution took place. Many businesses began to open up, and a change in the social classes was imminent. Business became the primary means of wealth accumulation taking over from inheritance. Many individuals who were born to poor households now climbed the social ladder and became wealthy joining the upper class.
Also, new social classes emerged. The society was now divided into the upper class, middle class, working class and the underclass. Each of these classes further included minor classes. The upper class was the highest ranking class in this hierarchy and consisted of business people who made a living through investments and inheritance. Below the upper class was the middle class. The middle class consisted employees who worked in well-paying jobs therefore they had jobs to perform but earned good salaries. These included business managers and other high ranking officers.
The working class referred to the workers who worked in the middle class. These workers performed the actual manual work in factories and businesses. They earned low salaries and included the skilled workers who earned better salaries and the unskilled workers who worked for these skilled workers. The lowest social rank during the Victorian times was the underclass. The underclass comprised of the poor who did not work and relied on help and charity.
The classification of people according these classes caused several challenges. There was a big gap in living standards between the poor and the wealthy as most of the wealth was amassed by the wealthy in society. Furthermore, many poor individuals and families could not meet their social needs such as access to health services and education. Furthermore, there was the development of different facilities for different classes that lead to segregation and discrimination of people according to class.