Abstract

Hoggart K. The middle classes in rural England, 1971-1991. Journal of Rural Studies 1997; 13 (3): 253-273.

This paper examines the issue of whether the English countryside has been 'captured' by the service classes. It examines this issue with regard to three questions: the role of the service classes in deciding dominant rural images; their role in controlling change processes in the countryside; and their share of the rural population. For the first two, doubts are raised about the importance that is being attached to middle class 'capture' ideas. The demographic takeover of the countryside is examined empirically, using census data on individuals from the Longitudinal Study. This shows that notions of a demographic dominance by the service classes are exaggerated and largely apply to SE England. Extending class membership to include those who have ever been in a class indicates that there is a comparatively slight tendency for migration into rural areas to be associated with downward social mobility amongst service class members. Inward movement was more closely allied to longer term service class membership. In gender terms rural areas were not distinguished from other zones in the same region in terms of the likelihood that female in-migrants would stay in full-time employment or leave the paid workforce. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.