ISER Emeritus Professor joins debate on Great British Class survey

In a letter to The Guardian, Professor David Rose, Emeritus Professor at ISER, and Eric Harrison, from the Centre for Comparative Social Surveys at City University, take dispute with the new social class measurement, The Great British Class Survey, recently promoted by the BBC and other media.

The Great British Class Survey divides Britain into seven sub-groups – these are Elite; Established Middle Class; Technical Middle Class, New Affluent Workers; Emergent Service Workers; Traditional Working Class; and Precariat.

The Professors argue that The Great British Class Survey is “no advance” on the existing National Statistics Socio-economic Classification:

“NS-SEC derives from a clear and explicit concept of class as being grounded in the social relationships of economic life, and has been extensively validated. In contrast, these new seven classes are the result of a quite back-to-front procedure. Rather than understanding class as a determinant of a wide range of individual outcomes, the researchers on the Great British Class Survey start from a limited – and rather arbitrarily chosen – set of outcomes reported by individuals and then apply a statistical technique searching for patterns in the results they obtain in order to determine classes.”

They continue:

“The new classes are in fact no more than the results of some not very insightful data-mining. If other outcomes had been chosen – and many could be suggested with just as good reason as those favoured by the survey – then very likely different classes would have emerged.”


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest