Research

In order for my photography portfolio to succeed and turn out the way I have planned, research and knowledge were vital in ensuring portray these stereotypes correctly otherwise my whole project will be ineffective.
I watched the following programmes ‘Made In Chelsea’ ‘Skint’ ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘How the Other Half Live’ which gave me a great insight into what people expect to see from different social classes. These television programmes have inspired my photography portfolio because they do have stereotypes of class in their production.

I found that the television soap Emmerdale is set in a typical rural countryside location with main features being The Pub, Shops, The Café and Industrial Factories. This programme, I believe, best portrays the working class as all the characters have to work everyday and the jobs they have are not the best paid as some of the characters were struggling with rent payments and other commitments.  However, there are some families in the soap that are portrayed as the Upper class. This is highly contrasted to the other class’ as their houses are much bigger with expensive décor inside. Compared to the families in the soap that are clearly from the working social class as they have terrace houses with average standard décor, Emmerdale show the contrast of the Upper and Working. The Working class are always seen in the pub or at the factories owned by the Upper Class. Whilst the Upper Class are always shown in their houses or business offices and this is a prime example of the divide in society but also the stereotypes of social classes are being aired on national television.

Made In Chelsea, however, was on the different end of the scale. All characters are portrayed as very wealthy, highly educated people. The clothing and jewellery they wear along with the cars and houses they own show the viewers exactly what it is like living in this Upper Class society. The characters are very rarely filmed at work as they are always shown shopping, in restaurants and bars or attending parties and events. Not only does this show how socially orientated they are but also that the characters came from wealthy backgrounds therefore have an easy lifestyle as having a job is not needed.

I also conducted a survey into what people expect to see from different social classes because this would give me a clearer idea of what items to use in my images. I asked the following questions.

  • What does the word ‘Upper Class’ make you think of and what would you associate with this term?
  • What does the word ‘Lower Class’ make you think of and what would you associate with this term?
  • What does the word ‘Middle Class’ make you think of and what would you associate with this term?
  • What does the word ‘Working Class’ make you think of and what would you associate with this term?
  • Which of the following would be most suitable to this certain class. (Different class with different job titles)
  • Rank the following clothing attire in order. 8 being most suited to Upper Class. 1 being most suited to Lower Class.

A copy of my survey is here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BNXBRJK

My results from my survey conducted the following.

lower-class-answers
Lower Class Stereotype
middle-class-answer
Middle Class Stereotype

 

upper-class-answers
Upper Class Stereotypes
working-class-answers
Working Class Stereotypes

working-class-job-graphupper-class-job-graphmiddle-class-job-graphlower-class-job-chartFrom my research answers, it has proven and gave me a further insight into the exact stereotype of these different social classes. The answers were what I expected therefore it shows that these stereotypes do exist. The Upper Class are seen as very wealthy, ‘posh’ with high end jobs and lifestyle. The Middle Class are people who have money but still have to work but are comfortable in their lifestyle and not struggling like the two next social classes. The Working Class are seen as the ‘average’ people who have to work hard everyday to get their money. The Lower Class are seen as the people who waste their little or no income on the wrong things and have a very low skilled job or no job at all.
This research has been extremely helpful because it has eased my mind and gave me definite answers into exactly what each social class are stereotyped as and the items I need in order to pull this off.

It was clear to me that I wanted to provide evidence that we as humans do judge other humans without even knowing them and the main factor is appearance. Firstly, I thought about just taking portraits from people with different social class backgrounds however, I wanted something more original and unique than that. Studying photography at college, I have a wide range of knowledge of photographers and know many that have taken portraits to capture what the person looks like to allow the viewer to judge them and interpret the image for themselves. I wanted to be a little different therefore, brainstormed different ways in which I could capture ‘stereotypes of social classes’ without using people themselves. Social and Economic divide is massive in todays society. TV Programmes streaming ‘Benefit Street’ to ‘The Rich Kids of Instagram’ shows their is a vital divide between the rich and poor and of course, stereotypes arise with both of those words. It then came to me that appearance is a massive factor in stereotypes as I myself can admit that I judge people by what they wear or what hobbies, music or food they listen to as they are not the same tastes as mine. This does not mean the other persons choices or social class is wrong, it is just not similar to mine. The English Dictionary states the verb class of stereotype as ‘to have a set idea about what a particular type of person is like, especially an idea that is wrong.’ After conducting and researching this area further, I decided I had finalized my concept in which I was going to partake. Having a photography portfolio capturing clothes, accessories, hobbies from different social classes would arise the issue to the viewers that we do stereotype and judge people due to their appearance.
I wanted my production work to have a real meaning and strong vibe about it. Therefore I have named my project “Who Am I?” Because I hope my images will capture the lives and interests of people from different social classes and the name will emphasise the judgement in which the viewer will assume they know who the person is, what social class they’re from, where they’re from, why they have items like that.

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