‘Middle class by profession’: Class status and identification amongst the Black middle classes

Rollock, Nicola; Vincent, Carol; Gillborn, David and Ball, Stephen. 2013. ‘Middle class by profession’: Class status and identification amongst the Black middle classes. Ethnicities, 13(3), pp. 253-275. ISSN 1468-7968 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Drawing on data collected during a 2-year Economic and Social Research Council-funded project exploring the educational perspectives and strategies of middle-class families with a Black Caribbean heritage, this paper examines how participants, in professional or managerial occupations, position themselves in relation to the label ‘middle class’. Our analysis reveals five distinct groupings: those who are ‘comfortably middle class’, ‘middle-class ambivalent’, ‘working class with qualification’, ‘working class’ and a final group, ‘interrogators’. However, we note considerable commonality and fluidity across these groupings in terms of participants’ reasons for and, in some cases, hesitancy around inhabiting a particular class location. These responses must be understood in the context of the relative newness of the Black middle classes and respondents’ broadly similar working-class trajectories alongside ongoing experiences of racism within a society that privileges and gives legitimacy to a dominant White middle-class norm. For many, there is not a straightforward way to be Black and middle class.

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Identification Number (DOI):



Black middle class, class identity, intersectionality, racism, Whiteness

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


1 June 2013Published
20 December 2012Published Online

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Date Deposited:

16 Jul 2018 10:32

Last Modified:

16 Jul 2018 10:32

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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