2. How does class affect the way we think and behave?

Chapter 2 suggests there is a ‘class ceiling’ in the UK, an embedded hierarchy based on accent, education, self-presentation and privilege. Our speakers describe ‘classism’ which determines who gets ‘top jobs’ and which professions are rewarded and celebrated, regardless of talent. It is a ‘misrecognition of merit’ reflected in our media and is often internalised, determining how we see each other and behave.

3. The markers of poverty

Chapter 3 looks at what it is like to grow up as a child in a household experiencing poverty and how deeply that affects life chances. Our speakers describe their own experiences, how dealing with the effects of poverty can be all-consuming and how debilitating the social stigma can be, leading people to believe this is how the world is and nothing can change.

4. The system

Chapter 4 addresses wealth inequality – how deep it is and why it is increasing. Our speakers challenge the myth of meritocracy and explain how the system relies on economic injustice and the resulting waste of working-class talent. The decline in trade union membership and the ability of organised labour to reduce inequality is seen as a major factor, among others.

5. The key role of education

Chapter 5 describes how class determines educational experience and life choices. Our speakers focus on the barriers to more settled, higher-paid employment opportunities – such as how the narrow test-driven school curriculum sets up some children to ‘fail’; the lack of grants and other resources which prohibit access to higher education and the perception of the greater value of education at private schools and ‘top’ universities.

6. How to reduce class inequality?

Chapter 6 explores ways to reduce class inequality such as disrupting inheritance across generations, lifting groups in society more than others using taxation and making class a protected characteristic by law. Dr Ben Tippet argues for the implementation of a Green, Purple and Red New Deal to protect the environment, eradicate poverty and put feminist reproductive labour at the heart of our economy.

7. What can we do?

Chapter 7 considers how to effect change and develop a more just society. Speakers remind us that benefits we have to today – holiday pay, the NHS, the end of racial segregation – have come about because people organised in the past. They remind us we too can get involved and offer ideas aimed at galvanising action for economic justice.

Arts activism and community participation

Chris Chalkley talks about art and activism as a tactic and the People’s Republic of Stokescroft, which provides spaces for artists in Bristol to create public artworks and share their work, engaging with community around a range of social and political issues.

Education to tackle racism

Khady Gueye tells the story of organising a Black Lives Matter demonstration in 2020. She received a fierce backlash and racist abuse as well as tremendous support including from the local police. Khady recognised the need for a long term approach to counter racial and economic injustice which are so connected. She set up the Local Equality Commission, working with partners to tackle racial, political and economic injustice collaboratively.