Abstract

Hoggart K. The diluted working classes of rural England and Wales. Journal of Rural Studies 2007; 23 (3): 305-317.

This paper asks, what are the attributes of the rural working class population in England and Wales? Drawing on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Longitudinal Study (LS), household and personal attributes at both the 1991 and 2001 Censuses are examined, with a view to exploring how far the rural working classes can be conceptualised as a cohesive occupational group; in other words, is the traditional vision of the rural working classes, as comprising a cohesive occupational community, still accurate? The results show this understanding is inaccurate. Social dynamism turns out to be high in rural areas, with little uniformity in the rural population with working class occupations, not simply due to occupational change but also as a result of cohabitation with those of other occupational grades and as a consequence of population turnover through migration. The paper indicates that caution is needed over messages in the rural studies literature concerning the magnitude of disadvantages that the rural working classes face, in good part because the composition of rural households with working class constituents is so dynamic.