USA and aristocracy

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,512
My understanding is in Britain, there is significant status in going to "public school" , and you sort of have to be from a background, and your parents went to"public school".. In the US a much smaller percentage, like maybe 1% go to schools that are "socially exclusive".
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,217
Welsh Marches
My understanding is in Britain, there is significant status in going to "public school" , and you sort of have to be from a background, and your parents went to"public school".. In the US a much smaller percentage, like maybe 1% go to schools that are "socially exclusive".
This is not necessarily the case actually, quite a lot of the parents who send their children to leading 'public schools' in the UK are either nouveau riche or did not go to such schools themselves (as is likely to become even more the case because the fees are getting so expensive that they can hardly be afforded by people in many normal upper middle class jobs); such schools will give polish, confidence and certain social skills as well as a first-rate education to all pupils, whatever their background, and since the 19th Century they have become a main means by which the newly successful can ensure that their families climb up in the social hierarchy. I think people often misunderstand the British class system by equating it with that which prevailed in ancien regime societies in continental Europe; in fact it has always been much more flexible than that, allowing people to rise up through the ranks as it were, and that is why it has survived to some extent. It should also be mentioned that an increasing number of the pupils in such schools come from abroad, including Russia and China, although that has long been the case to some extent.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: duncanness

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
It's exactly the same situation in Britain/ Only a few people go to tje elite, socially exclusive schools.

They are over represented in certain sectors, such as politics.

It's what we call the "old boys' network".

I went to the same school as the Emir of Qatar. I'm still waiting for the phone call...
Have you informed the emir of your honorable and respected position here?:)
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
It's exactly the same situation in Britain/ Only a few people go to tje elite, socially exclusive schools.

They are over represented in certain sectors, such as politics.

It's what we call the "old boys' network".

I went to the same school as the Emir of Qatar. I'm still waiting for the phone call...
This is not necessarily the case actually, quite a lot of the parents who send their children to leading 'public schools' in the UK are either nouveau riche or did not go to such schools themselves (as is likely to become even more the case because the fees are getting so expensive that they can hardly be afforded by people in many normal upper middle class jobs); such schools will give polish, confidence and certain social skills as well as a first-rate education to all pupils, whatever their background, and since the 19th Century they have become a main means by which the newly successful can ensure that their families climb up in the social hierarchy. I think people often misunderstand the British class system by equating it with that which prevailed in ancien regime societies in continental Europe; in fact it has always been much more flexible than that, allowing people to rise up through the ranks as it were, and that is why it has survived to some extent. It should also be mentioned that an increasing number of the pupils in such schools come from abroad, including Russia and China, although that has long been the case to some extent.
You are both one of the better posters here: knowledgeable, reasonable and fair. Maybe there is something to be said for that elite education.:)
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,485
T'Republic of Yorkshire
This is not necessarily the case actually, quite a lot of the parents who send their children to leading 'public schools' in the UK are either nouveau riche or did not go to such schools themselves (as is likely to become even more the case because the fees are getting so expensive that they can hardly be afforded by people in many normal upper middle class jobs); such schools will give polish, confidence and certain social skills as well as a first-rate education to all pupils, whatever their background, and since the 19th Century they have become a main means by which the newly successful can ensure that their families climb up in the social hierarchy. I think people often misunderstand the British class system by equating it with that which prevailed in ancien regime societies in continental Europe; in fact it has always been much more flexible than that, allowing people to rise up through the ranks as it were, and that is why it has survived to some extent. It should also be mentioned that an increasing number of the pupils in such schools come from abroad, including Russia and China, although that has long been the case to some extent.
Indeed! One no longer has to be a gentleman these days to be an officer.
 

Earl_of_Rochester

Ad Honoris
Feb 2011
13,609
Perambulating in St James' Park
You do if you want to be in a fashionable regiment. The class system and accent is still there, it's why you never hear an Essex accent giving the orders on Horse Guards Parade. The private schools are getting a lot more multicultural and socially mobile, a lot of thiev... er, used cars salesmen tend to send their children there nowadays. It's not just doctors and lawyers anymore.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Shtajerc

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,743
Lower Styria, Slovenia
You do if you want to be in a fashionable regiment. The class system and accent is still there, it's why you never hear an Essex accent giving the orders on Horse Guards Parade. The private schools are getting a lot more multicultural and socially mobile, a lot of thiev... er, used cars salesmen tend to send their children there nowadays. It's not just doctors and lawyers anymore.
A dinnae ken aboot thon ... Ar ye sayin the Forty Twa is not fashionable, laddy? Me boys swaggerin up an doun the road in the black watch tartan while the pipes ar playin Black Bear wad disagree.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,512
I don't totally understand it, as I don't travel in those circles. However, there are like 100,000 people in the social register. That is pretty closed, which is partly why the children or grandchildren of someone who made a lot of money and married someone not quite at that level would marry British aristocracy. Newport, RI was were New York society had summer homes, so newly wealthy people built spectacular mansions there and had parties for the socialites they wanted to marry their kids to.

I was acquainted with someone who went to a top 50 prep school. She was not in the social register, but her grandparents owned what had been 4 plantations. Her middle name was the surname of a well known colonial governor, and her siblings had middle names of generals they were descended from. She was near the bottom of the class at that school, so I assume they look at background even if you aren't in the register.

I had a cousin who went to a top 10 prep school on a scholarship. I wouldn't want to do that. I had enough trouble at a fancy college with all the prep school types and rich kids who were bought in looking down on me. There was a movie "School Ties" about kids on scholarships at top prep schools, sometimes because they wanted them for an athletic team. They would have them work as waiters serving meals to the other kids as their job for the scholarship.

A friend told me a story about meeting a society type at his mens club to discuss some business. In addition to the high class types there were all sorts of news people from TV, old rock stars etc. They seemed to bring people like that in for connections, information, and so on. There was an article like 30 years ago about a club like that in Washington, which had one Jewish member Henry Kissinger, and a black member who was an Episcopal bishop.

These top prep schools and clubs and so on are financed to a large degree by wealthy people buying their way into them. You can buy your way into a prep school as well as a college, but the normal way to get in is on background for a prep school. By contrast college admissions is supposedly based on academics, but you can buy your way in, and there is preference for prep school types, political connections, etc.

Joseph Kennedy, the father of the president, had been bought into Harvard. He bought his kids into top prep schools. He also was made Ambassador to Britain, partly because he donated a lot of money to Roosevelt''s campaign. Roosevelt also wanted him happy and out of the country, so he wouldn't try to become president, and it maybe got Irish votes. The Ambassadors to glamorous places mostly bought there positions with campaign contributions and maybe money under the table and are mostly nouveau types looking for status. Professional diplomats have to pass a test on history, geography, and so on and know lots of languages, but are also mostly from fancy backgrounds. Background is really important in the foreign service, but not so much in the military any more.

My understanding is that it helps to be social register and good prep school for competitive colleges. The top Ivies take a lot of people from top prep schools who are good academically, but also upper level society, which isn't really viewed like aristocracy in Europe but has status. Top Ivies also are really expensive to buy into, so have really rich students.

Admissions to good prep schools is mostly based on background, but I have heard less so than in Britain. Some Ivies and top LACs take maybe 15% of students on academics, and the rest have hooks. They take some for athletics, some who are from underrepresented ethnic groups or geographical areas, and some with various types of connections or prominent parents or relatives. Then there are a lot of prep school types, but most are sort of bought in.