From an article by William Davies in the London Review of Books:

“Lisa Adkins, Melinda Cooper, and Martijn Konings, three political economists at the University of Sydney, have come up with a new model of class based on housing and assets. They identify five different classes: investors, outright owners, indebted owners, tenants, and homeless.”

Much that I have read over the course of the past several years on the subject of wealth inequality and property ownership indicates that a social restructuring has occurred and continues to occur in places like the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia. The simplistic and possibly misleading way of putting this would be to say that the middle class has been hollowed out. Of course the problem with this, as catchy as it may be, is that one gets immediately bogged down in difficulties of definition: what exactly is the middle class? How are we to define their wealth, their social mobility? At what point in time did this start happening? etc. What seems fairly clear, however, in spite of these important questions, is that a more or less generational divide has developed with respect to people and property. For more and more people under the age of 40, owning property is out of reach. Hence the above reclassification. The book under review—Generation Left by Keir Milburn—draws attention to the way that this kind of development has, in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, manifested itself in contemporary politics. Given the fact that, as Adam Swift points out in another recent LRB article on social mobility, those who possess great wealth and privilege have been very successful at protecting their interests, bestowing their advantages to subsequent generations within societies whose political aims ostensibly include greater fairness of opportunity for everyone, such a reclassification certainly helps us see the present situation more clearly.

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