Last Updated on August 31, 2018 by Karl Thompson
While there’s a lovely ethnic and gender diversity shine on this year’s Great British Bake Off pie, the social class balance is just way off!
I’ve done a rough analysis of this year’s 2018 Bake Off contestants by social class background and compared these to the percentages of people working in different social class occupations (1) and found the following differences:
There’s a very strong upper middle class skew, and a corresponding under-representation of especially the traditional working class.
The 2018 Bake Off contestants by social class…
Focusing purely on social class, and categorized using the National Statistics Socio-economic classification (NS-SEC), in this year’s 2018 Bake Off line up we have the following:
Class 1 – Managers, directors, senior officials – COUNT 3
- Antony the ‘Bollywood’ Banker,
- Briony the stay at home mum
- Dan the stay at home dad.
My logic for including the two stay at home parents in class one is as follows: only the very wealthiest of parents can afford to have one of them staying at home permanently, and given that class 2 (see below) is already well over-represented it follows that the most likely class fit for these two is in class one. NB – this isn’t necessarily the case, just my best estimate in the absence of any data on what Briony’s and Dan’s partners do.
Class 2 – Professional occupations – COUNT 6
- Imelda, the Former teacher, now countryside recreation officer
- Kim-Joy, the Mental health worker
- Luke, the Civil Servant
- Manon, the Software Project Manager
- Rahul, the Nuclear scientist
- Ruby, the Project Manager
Classes 3-5 – count 0
Associate professional, technical profession (class 3), administrative and secretarial (class 4) and skilled trades (class 5) have zero representation on Bake Off this year.
Class 6: caring and leisure – COUNT 1
Class 7 – sales and customer service – COUNT 1
Class 8 – Plant and machine operatives – COUNT 0
No representation from the ‘traditional’ working class at all. I guess custard creams are off this year’s Bake Off menu!
Class 9 – elementary occupations – COUNT 1
Finally…. Blood courier Jon represents those working in class nine.
Jon also represents all of Wales too. Quite a burden!
A few observations on the problems of social class analysis…
I had to limit myself to categorizing the contests by occupation, as this is the only valid, ‘objective’ data I’ve got about their class background. I would have like to have used the more up to date ‘New British Class Survey‘ (scroll down for details), but I can’t tell how much cultural capital etc. each contestant has got just from watching them of the T.V.
I might have mis-categorized a couple of the contestants: especially the two who don’t work, but even so, there’s still a middle class bias!
Does this poor representation of the lower social classes matter? I mean, we all know that ‘trophy baking’ is a middle class affair, so maybe this sample of bakers actually does represent those who ‘trophy bake’ – i.e. those who can actually afford to spend that much time and money on baking?
Or should Channel 4 be trying a bit harder to find a machine operator to get their ass on Bake-Off?
Sources/ Find out More…
- U.K. population social class breakdown based on Office for National Statistics: Employment by Occupation, April 2017 figures.
- The Great British Bake Off web site (source for contestant images).