Who were the workers?
in The British working class in postwar film
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Income does not distinguish between the lifestyles of the genteel poor and affluent workers. The grail of a definitive measure remains elusive, leaving class as a semantic battleground for generations of sociologists. As a character on screen can become a real person to the audience, so the risk of emphasising measurement in sociology is that class assumes material reality instead of being merely a convenient way of grouping social phenomena. Certain defining characteristics keep recurring in the neglected body of social science research from the 1940s and 1950s, namely, neighbourhood, neighbours, family, home, gender roles, respectability, and status. This chapter discusses a five-dimensional model for examining images of the working class in films. These are: place in the authority structure; cohesion/fragmentation within the working-class community; internalised values; the built environment; and personal signifiers of class, notably speech, hairstyles and clothing.


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