Sociology 1912
Class System
The British Class system was still as ridged as ever in 1912 as it
wasn’t until the wars that the class system was broken down
more into what we have today. Though with the arrival of
industrial work people in the middle class were able to make
a larger profit and some became quite wealthy. Thus their
was more room for movement within the middle class as to
how influential, powerful, and wealthy you were.
The Upper Class was made up of ‘old money’ families who
inherited their fortunes and land.
The middle class covered a large band of society, in which
anyone with an income were able to range from Factory
owners, shop owners, factory workers and teachers.
Basically anyone who worked was in the middle class.
The lower class was made up of people who were unemployed
or who earnt the least and were barely able to support
themselves in society.
Upper Class - Gerald
• Inherited money and land.
• Didn’t need jobs because they
already had money.
• Had many large houses, with many
• Lead leisurely lives.
• Stayed with the lavish Edwardian
lifestyle up until the first war
broke out.
Upper Middle Class - Birlings
• The Birlings had made their own
money from the industrial
• Even though they were quite
wealthy and had influence about
the town, they were still
considered middle class, as they still
worked for their money.
• Marrying Sheila to Gerald is the
only way to try to move up the class
Middle class inspector
• Most middle class had regular jobs.
• Again these range in skill, wages, and
• As the Inspector is not a real
inspector it is important to decide
what kind of job he would have, and
where this slots into the middle
class, but he would be from the
middle class.
Lower Middle Class - Edna
There were a great numbers of servants in the early 19th centaury,
they were like a washing machine, cook, and cleaner all in one, and so
were a need rather than a luxury. Edna would have been known as
‘the girl’ who does everything for a family rather than employing
lots of servants. Lots of families did this, even families which quite
modest incomes, who owned a stores for example.
'Servants did an incredible amount of work. Jane cooked five-course
dinners for seven or eight people as a matter of daily routine. For
gfrand dinner parties of twelve or more, each course contained
alternatives - two soups, two fish courses, etc. The housemaid
cleaned about forty silver photograph frames and toilet silver ad
lib, took in and emptied a 'hip bath' (we had a bathroom but my
mother considered it a revolting idea to use a bath others had used),
brought hot water to bedrooms four times a day, lit bedroom fires
in winter, and mended linen etc, every afternoon. The parlormaid
cleaned incredibel amounts of silver and washed glasses with loving
care in a papier-mache bowl, besides providing perfect waiting at
table.‘ – Agatha Christie
Lower class – Eva Smith
• Working women like Eva (at first)
relied on relatives, the YWCA, and
boarding houses for shelter, as Eva
had no family, she probably paid for
housing in a boarding house.
• Once she had no income, as there was
no support system for the homeless,
life looked pretty hopeless.
LIFE IN 1912
Home Living
• Gas and Electricity had been
invented and the rich had access to
gas fire, and cooking, as well as
electric lights. Brumley would have
had elictric street light but the
birling's probably still had gas
• By 1912 middle class people in Britain
usually had bathrooms. The water
was heated by gas.
• Games like lawn tennis , snooker, snakes and
laders, and ludo were popular.
• Biking came into fashion and so did reading
Sherlock Holmes, and newly introduced
science fiction.
• Cinema was also newly invented and was
enjoyed just as much as theatre.
• Camera’s were also new and were used on
popular trips to the sea side.
• There were many toys for children
including wood and porcelain dolls, and
wooden figurines, and play sets like noah’s
• In 1912 almost a quarter of the
population lived in substandard
conditions, earning just enough to
survive or less.
• The main cause of poverty was low
wages, people were not able to earn
enough to survive.
• This is where Eva was situated and
women were paid far less than men.
With no man, women would struggle
to survive.
Government Help
• In the 1900’s The government started funding
programmes to help support the poor.
• In 1906 poor children were given free school meals.
• In 1909 pensions started being paid to people over
70, though they were only 5 shillings a week.
• Wages councils were also formed, they were
allocated to the different industries and created
a minimum wage.
• in 1911 sickness benefits were introduced.
• There were also unemployment benefits , for
trades in which unemployment was common (and
workers had powerful trade unions)
Poverty Life
A poor family usually had a n apartment which consisted of
two rooms in the downstairs, and two rooms upstairs. Indoor
bathrooms were very rare. Very poor families may only be
able to afford one room to live in.
Food was expensive, making it hard to get enough nutrition,
and therefore malnutrition was common. Over half a persons
income would be spent on food.
Railways were the common form of transport, although cars
were becoming more common with the richest families. Trams
were also used around town, and buses were starting to be
Paid holidays only really happened for skilled workers, and
other workers had bank holidays.
There was more free time opening up, this time was enjoyed
with soccer games, and using new public libraries, reading
papers also became apart of enjoyable life.
In early 1900’s life expectancy in Britain was about 47 for a
man and about 50 for a woman.

Sociology 1912