The BBC launched a nationwide interactive survey today to investigate what class means in modern-day Britain.
The Great British Class Survey, which is the first interactive commission by BBC Current Affairs, will form part of a wider examination of class by the broadcaster in 2011, including two upcoming BBC Two documentaries.
According to a release from the BBC, the survey takes about 20 minutes to complete, and scores participants on three factors: economic, social and cultural. Participants will then be able to compare their results to those of the UK population as a whole.
"The aim of this survey effectively is to interview the country," said Philip Trippenbach, producer of the survey, speaking at Journalism.co.uk's news:rewired conference last month.
Trippenbach revealed that the BBC had been approached with offers to purchase the data gathered from the survey, but said that the project would be a strictly public service initiative.
The data collected will be used by the BBC to create an interactive visualisation later in the year, according to today's announcment.
Clive Edwards, executive editor and commissioning editor, BBC Current Affairs, said:
"The shape of Britain's class system today is very much open to debate. Indeed, some people would argue that class simply doesn't matter anymore. But our national fascination with class just continues – you only have to look at the huge popularity of programmes like Downton Abbey for the evidence.
"But when it comes to making policy decisions or having a proper debate about the class system, we need more than stereotypes and received wisdom. We need a proper assessment of what 'class' really is, and that's what we hope this survey will produce."
The project will be a collaboration between the journalists of BBC Current Affairs, BBC Lab UK and experts on class.
BBC Lab UK worked with British sociologists Professor Mike Savage of the University of York and Professor Fiona Devine of the University of Manchester to design the project.
BBC Lab UK launched in September 2009 and has so far conducted four scientific experiments and surveys: Brain Test Britain, The Big Personality Test, The Web Behaviour Test and How Musical Are You?