The End of the University as We Know It

tl; just skim.

After an exhausting reading experience, I sadly found I cannot be convinced by those points which the author have made.

The outline is clear. It is marked up by those drop caps that leads a new section.

I guess the word of “University” actually has a specific meaning in this article. It’s more or less like a business model. The model may change, just like a company may change its strategy based on the market circumstance. Therefore, this specific “University” that the author referred may end, but, from a general definition, the university will still last long.

The End of the University as We Know It

From the January/February 2013 issue Nathan Harden (The American Interest)

The End of the University as We Know It [1]

In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students.

We’ve all heard plenty about the “college bubble” in recent years. Student loan debt is at an all-time high—an average of more than $23,000 per graduate by some counts—and tuition costs continue to rise at a rate far outpacing inflation, as they have for decades. Credential inflation is devaluing the college degree, making graduate degrees, and the greater debt required to pay for them, increasingly necessary for many people to maintain the standard of living they experienced growing up in their parents’ homes. Students are defaulting on their loans at an unprecedented rate, too, partly a function of an economy short on entry-level professional positions. Yet, as with all bubbles, there’s a persistent public belief in the value of something, and that faith in the college degree has kept demand high.

The figures are alarming, the anecdotes downright depressing. But the real story of the American higher-education bubble has little to do with individual students and their debts or employment problems. The most important part of the college bubble story—the one we will soon be hearing much more about—concerns the impending financial collapse of numerous private colleges and universities and the likely shrinkage of many public ones. And when that bubble bursts, it will end a system of higher education that, for all of its history, has been steeped in a culture of exclusivity. Then we’ll see the birth of something entirely new as we accept one central and unavoidable fact: The college classroom is about to go virtual.


e are all aware that the IT revolution is having an impact on education, but we tend to appreciate the changes in isolation, and at the margins. Very few have been able to exercise their imaginations to the point that they can perceive the systemic and structural changes ahead, and what they portend for the business models and social scripts that sustain the status quo. That is partly because the changes are threatening to many vested interests, but also partly because the human mind resists surrender to upheaval and the anxiety that tends to go with it. But resist or not, major change is coming. The live lecture will be replaced by streaming video. The administration of exams and exchange of coursework over the internet will become the norm. The push and pull of academic exchange will take place mainly in interactive online spaces, occupied by a new generation of tablet-toting, hyper-connected youth who already spend much of their lives online. Universities will extend their reach to students around the world, unbounded by geography or even by time zones. All of this will be on offer, too, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional college education.

How do I know this will happen? Because recent history shows us that the internet is a great destroyer of any traditional business that relies on the sale of information. The internet destroyed the livelihoods of traditional stock brokers and bonds salesmen by throwing open to everyone access to the proprietary information they used to sell. The same technology enabled bankers and financiers to develop new products and methods, but, as it turned out, the experience necessary to manage it all did not keep up. Prior to the Wall Street meltdown, it seemed absurd to think that storied financial institutions like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers could disappear seemingly overnight. Until it happened, almost no one believed such a thing was possible. Well, get ready to see the same thing happen to a university near you, and not for entirely dissimilar reasons.

The higher-ed business is in for a lot of pain as a new era of creative destruction produces a merciless shakeout of those institutions that adapt and prosper from those that stall and die. Meanwhile, students themselves are in for a golden age, characterized by near-universal access to the highest quality teaching and scholarship at a minimal cost. The changes ahead will ultimately bring about the most beneficial, most efficient and most equitable access to education that the world has ever seen. There is much to be gained. We may lose the gothic arches, the bespectacled lecturers, dusty books lining the walls of labyrinthine libraries—wonderful images from higher education’s past. But nostalgia won’t stop the unsentimental beast of progress from wreaking havoc on old ways of doing things. If a faster, cheaper way of sharing information emerges, history shows us that it will quickly supplant what came before. People will not continue to pay tens of thousands of dollars for what technology allows them to get for free.

Technology will also bring future students an array of new choices about how to build and customize their educations. Power is shifting away from selective university admissions officers into the hands of educational consumers, who will soon have their choice of attending virtually any university in the world online. This will dramatically increase competition among universities. Prestigious institutions, especially those few extremely well-endowed ones with money to buffer and finance change, will be in a position to dominate this virtual, global educational marketplace. The bottom feeders—the for-profit colleges and low-level public and non-profit colleges—will disappear or turn into the equivalent of vocational training institutes. Universities of all ranks below the very top will engage each other in an all-out war of survival. In this war, big-budget universities carrying large transactional costs stand to lose the most. Smaller, more nimble institutions with sound leadership will do best.


his past spring, Harvard and MIT got the attention of everyone in the higher ed business when they announced a new online education venture called edX. The new venture will make online versions of the universities’ courses available to a virtually unlimited number of enrollees around the world. Think of the ramifications: Now anyone in the world with an internet connection can access the kind of high-level teaching and scholarship previously available only to a select group of the best and most privileged students. It’s all part of a new breed of online courses known as “massive open online courses” (MOOCs), which are poised to forever change the way students learn and universities teach.

One of the biggest barriers to the mainstreaming of online education is the common assumption that students don’t learn as well with computer-based instruction as they do with in-person instruction. There’s nothing like the personal touch of being in a classroom with an actual professor, says the conventional wisdom, and that’s true to some extent. Clearly, online education can’t be superior in all respects to the in-person experience. Nor is there any point pretending that information is the same as knowledge, and that access to information is the same as the teaching function instrumental to turning the former into the latter. But researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative, who’ve been experimenting with computer-based learning for years, have found that when machine-guided learning is combined with traditional classroom instruction, students can learn material in half the time. Researchers at Ithaka S+R studied two groups of students—one group that received all instruction in person, and another group that received a mixture of traditional and computer-based instruction. The two groups did equally well on tests, but those who received the computer instruction were able to learn the same amount of material in 25 percent less time.

The real value of MOOCs is their scalability. Andrew Ng, a Stanford computer science professor and co-founder of an open-source web platform called Coursera (a for-profit version of edX), got into the MOOC business after he discovered that thousands of people were following his free Stanford courses online. He wanted to capitalize on the intense demand for high-quality, open-source online courses. A normal class Ng teaches at Stanford might enroll, at most, several hundred students. But in the fall of 2011 his online course in machine learning enrolled 100,000. “To reach that many students before”, Ng explained to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, “I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”

Based on the popularity of the MOOC offerings online so far, we know that open-source courses at elite universities have the potential to serve enormous “classes.” An early MIT online course called “Circuits and Electronics” has attracted 120,000 registrants. Top schools like Yale, MIT and Stanford have been making streaming videos and podcasts of their courses available online for years, but MOOCs go beyond this to offer a full-blown interactive experience. Students can intermingle with faculty and with each other over a kind of higher-ed social network. Streaming lectures may be accompanied by short auto-graded quizzes. Students can post questions about course material to discuss with other students. These discussions unfold across time zones, 24 hours a day. In extremely large courses, students can vote questions up or down, so that the best questions rise to the top. It’s like an educational amalgam of YouTube, Wikipedia and Facebook.

Among the chattering classes in higher ed, there is an increasing sense that we have reached a tipping point where new interactive web technology, coupled with widespread access to broadband internet service and increased student comfort interacting online, will send online education mainstream. It’s easy to forget that only ten years ago Facebook didn’t exist. Teens now approaching college age are members of the first generation to have grown up conducting a major part of their social lives online. They are prepared to engage with professors and students online in a way their predecessors weren’t, and as time passes more and more professors are comfortable with the technology, too.

In the future, the primary platform for higher education may be a third-party website, not the university itself. What is emerging is a global marketplace where courses from numerous universities are available on a single website. Students can pick and choose the best offerings from each school; the university simply uploads the content. Coursera, for example, has formed agreements with Penn, Princeton, UC Berkeley, and the University of Michigan to manage these schools’ forays into online education. On the non-profit side, MIT has been the nation’s leader in pioneering open-source online education through its MITx platform, which launched last December and serves as the basis for the new edX platform.


old on there a minute, you might object. Just as information is not the same as knowledge, and auto-access is not necessarily auto-didactics, so taking a bunch of random courses does not a coherent university education make. Mere exposure, too, doesn’t guarantee that knowledge has been learned. In other words, what about the justifiable function of majors and credentials?

MIT is the first elite university to offer a credential for students who complete its free, open-source online courses. (The certificate of completion requires a small fee.) For the first time, students can do more than simply watch free lectures; they can gain a marketable credential—something that could help secure a raise or a better job. While edX won’t offer traditional academic credits, Harvard and MIT have announced that “certificates of mastery” will be available for those who complete the online courses and can demonstrate knowledge of course material. The arrival of credentials, backed by respected universities, eliminates one of the last remaining obstacles to the widespread adoption of low-cost online education. Since edX is open source, Harvard and MIT expect other universities to adopt the same platform and contribute their own courses. And the two universities have put $60 million of their own money behind the project, making edX the most promising MOOC venture out there right now.

Anant Agarwal, an MIT computer science professor and edX’s first president, told the Los Angeles Times, “MIT’s and Harvard’s mission is to provide affordable education to anybody who wants it.” That’s a very different mission than elite schools like Harvard and MIT have had for most of their existence. These schools have long focused on educating the elite—the smartest and, often, the wealthiest students in the world. But Agarwal’s statement is an indication that, at some level, these institutions realize that the scalability and economic efficiency of online education allow for a new kind of mission for elite universities. Online education is forcing elite schools to re-examine their priorities. In the future, they will educate the masses as well as the select few. The leaders of Harvard and MIT have founded edX, undoubtedly, because they realize that these changes are afoot, even if they may not yet grasp just how profound those changes will be.

And what about the social experience that is so important to college? Students can learn as much from their peers in informal settings as they do from their professors in formal ones. After college, networking with fellow alumni can lead to valuable career opportunities. Perhaps that is why, after the launch of edX, the presidents of both Harvard and MIT emphasized that their focus would remain on the traditional residential experience. “Online education is not an enemy of residential education”, said MIT president Susan Hockfield.

Yet Hockfield’s statement doesn’t hold true for most less wealthy universities. Harvard and MIT’s multi-billion dollar endowments enable them to support a residential college system alongside the virtually free online platforms of the future, but for other universities online education poses a real threat to the residential model. Why, after all, would someone pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend Nowhere State University when he or she can attend an online version of MIT or Harvard practically for free?

This is why those middle-tier universities that have spent the past few decades spending tens or even hundreds of millions to offer students the Disneyland for Geeks experience are going to find themselves in real trouble. Along with luxury dorms and dining halls, vast athletic facilities, state of the art game rooms, theaters and student centers have come layers of staff and non-teaching administrators, all of which drives up the cost of the college degree without enhancing student learning. The biggest mistake a non-ultra-elite university could make today is to spend lavishly to expand its physical space. Buying large swaths of land and erecting vast new buildings is an investment in the past, not the future. Smart universities should be investing in online technology and positioning themselves as leaders in the new frontier of open-source education. Creating the world’s premier, credentialed open online education platform would be a major achievement for any university, and it would probably cost much less than building a new luxury dorm.

Even some elite universities may find themselves in trouble in this regard, despite their capacity, as noted, to retain the residential norm. In 2007 Princeton completed construction on a new $136 million luxury dormitory for its students—all part of an effort to expand its undergraduate enrollment. Last year Yale finalized plans to build new residential dormitories at a combined cost of $600 million. The expansion will increase the size of Yale’s undergraduate population by about 1,000. The project is so expensive that Yale could actually buy a three-bedroom home in New Haven for every new student it is bringing in and still save $100 million. In New York City, Columbia stirred up controversy by seizing entire blocks of Harlem by force of eminent domain for a project with a $6.3 billion price tag. Not to be outdone, Columbia’s downtown neighbor, NYU, announced plans to buy up six million square feet of debt-leveraged space in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world, at an estimated cost of $6 billion. The University of Pennsylvania has for years been expanding all over West Philadelphia like an amoeba gone real-estate insane. What these universities are doing is pure folly, akin to building a compact disc factory in the late 1990s. They are investing in a model that is on its way to obsolescence. If these universities understood the changes that lie ahead, they would be selling off real estate, not buying it—unless they prefer being landlords to being educators.

Now, because the demand for college degrees is so high (whether for good reasons or not is not the question for the moment), and because students and the parents who love them are willing to take on massive debt in order to obtain those degrees, and because the government has been eager to make student loans easier to come by, these universities and others have, so far, been able to keep on building and raising prices. But what happens when a limited supply of a sought-after commodity suddenly becomes unlimited? Prices fall. Yet here, on the cusp of a new era of online education, that is a financial reality that few American universities are prepared to face.

The era of online education presents universities with a conflict of interests—the goal of educating the public on one hand, and the goal of making money on the other. As Burck Smith, CEO of the distance-learning company StraighterLine, has written, universities have “a public-sector mandate” but “a private-sector business model.” In other words, raising revenues often trumps the interests of students. Most universities charge as much for their online courses as they do for their traditional classroom courses. They treat the savings of online education as a way to boost profit margins; they don’t pass those savings along to students.

One potential source of cost savings for lower-rung colleges would be to draw from open-source courses offered by elite universities. Community colleges, for instance, could effectively outsource many of their courses via MOOCs, becoming, in effect, partial downstream aggregators of others’ creations, more or less like newspapers have used wire services to make up for a decline in the number of reporters. They could then serve more students with fewer faculty, saving money for themselves and students. At a time when many public universities are facing stiff budget cuts and families are struggling to pay for their kids’ educations, open-source online education looks like a promising way to reduce costs and increase the quality of instruction. Unfortunately, few college administrators are keen on slashing budgets, downsizing departments or taking other difficult steps to reduce costs. The past thirty years of constant tuition hikes at U.S. universities has shown us that much.

The biggest obstacle to the rapid adoption of low-cost, open-source education in America is that many of the stakeholders make a very handsome living off the system as is. In 2009, 36 college presidents made more than $1 million. That’s in the middle of a recession, when most campuses were facing severe budget cuts. This makes them rather conservative when it comes to the politics of higher education, in sharp contrast to their usual leftwing political bias in other areas. Reforming themselves out of business by rushing to provide low- and middle-income students credentials for free via open-source courses must be the last thing on those presidents’ minds.

Nevertheless, competitive online offerings from other schools will eventually force these “non-profit” institutions to embrace the online model, even if the public interest alone won’t. And state governments will put pressure on public institutions to adopt the new open-source model, once politicians become aware of the comparable quality, broad access and low cost it offers.


onsidering the greater interactivity and global connectivity that future technology will afford, the gap between the online experience and the in-person experience will continue to close. For a long time now, the largest division within Harvard University has been the little-known Harvard Extension School, a degree-granting division within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with minimal admissions standards and very low tuition that currently enrolls 13,000 students. The Extension School was founded for the egalitarian purpose of making the Harvard education available to the masses. Nevertheless, Harvard took measures to protect the exclusivity of its brand. The undergraduate degrees offered by the Extension School (Bachelor of Liberal Arts) are distinguished by name from the degrees the university awards through Harvard College (Bachelor of Arts). This model—one university, two types of degrees—offers a good template for Harvard’s future, in which the old residential college model will operate parallel to the new online open-source model. The Extension School already offers more than 200 online courses for full academic credit.

Prestigious private institutions and flagship public universities will thrive in the open-source market, where students will be drawn to the schools with bigger names. This means, paradoxically, that prestigious universities, which will have the easiest time holding on to the old residential model, also have the most to gain under the new model. Elite universities that are among the first to offer robust academic programs online, with real credentials behind them, will be the winners in the coming higher-ed revolution.

There is, of course, the question of prestige, which implies selectivity. It’s the primary way elite universities have distinguished themselves in the past. The harder it is to get in, the more prestigious a university appears. But limiting admissions to a select few makes little sense in the world of online education, where enrollment is no longer bounded by the number of seats in a classroom or the number of available dorm rooms. In the online world, the only concern is having enough faculty and staff on hand to review essays, or grade the tests that aren’t automated, or to answer questions and monitor student progress online.

Certain valuable experiences will be lost in this new online era, as already noted. My own experience at Yale furnishes some specifics. Through its “Open Yale” initiative, Yale has been recording its lecture courses for several years now, making them available to the public free of charge. Anyone with an internet connection can go online and watch some of the same lectures I attended as a Yale undergrad. But that person won’t get the social life, the long chats in the dinning hall, the feeling of collegiality, the trips around Long Island sound with the sailing team, the concerts, the iron-sharpens-iron debates around the seminar table, the rare book library, or the famous guest lecturers (although some of those events are streamed online, too). On the other hand, you can watch me and my fellow students take the stage to demonstrate a Hoplite phalanx in Donald Kagan’s class on ancient Greek history. You can take a virtual seat next to me in one of Giuseppe Mazzota’s unforgettable lectures on The Divine Comedy.

So while it can never duplicate the experience of a student with the good fortune to get into Yale, this is an historically significant development. Anyone who can access the internet—at a public library, for instance—no matter how poor or disadvantaged or isolated or uneducated he or she may be, can access the teachings of some of the greatest scholars of our time through open course portals. Technology is a great equalizer. Not everyone is willing or capable of taking advantage of these kinds of resources, but for those who are, the opportunity is there. As a society, we are experiencing a broadening of access to education equal in significance to the invention of the printing press, the public library or the public school.


nline education is like using online dating websites—fifteen years ago it was considered a poor substitute for the real thing, even creepy; now it’s ubiquitous. Online education used to have a stigma, as if it were inherently less rigorous or less effective. Eventually for-profit colleges and public universities, which had less to lose in terms of snob appeal, led the charge in bringing online education into the mainstream. It’s very common today for public universities to offer a menu of online courses to supplement traditional courses. Students can be enrolled in both types of courses simultaneously, and can sometimes even be enrolled in traditional classes at one university while taking an online course at another.

The open-source marketplace promises to offer students additional choices in the way they build their credentials. Colleges have long placed numerous restrictions on the number of credits a student can transfer in from an outside institution. In many cases, these restrictions appear useful for little more than protecting the university’s bottom line. The open-source model will offer much more flexibility, though still maintain the structure of a major en route to obtaining a credential. Students who aren’t interested in pursuing a traditional four-year degree, or in having any major at all, will be able to earn meaningful credentials one class at a time.

To borrow an analogy from the music industry, universities have previously sold education in an “album” package—the four-year bachelor’s degree in a certain major, usually coupled with a core curriculum. The trend for the future will be more compact, targeted educational certificates and credits, which students will be able to pick and choose from to create their own academic portfolios. Take a math class from MIT, an engineering class from Purdue, perhaps with a course in environmental law from Yale, and create interdisciplinary education targeted to one’s own interests and career goals. Employers will be able to identify students who have done well in specific courses that match their needs. When people submit résumés to potential employers, they could include a list of these individual courses, and their achievement in them, rather than simply reference a degree and overall GPA. The legitimacy of MOOCs in the eyes of employers will grow, then, as respected universities take the lead in offering open courses with meaningful credentials.

MOOCs will also be a great remedy to the increasing need for continuing education. It’s worth noting that while the four-year residential experience is what many of us picture when we think of “college”, the residential college experience has already become an experience only a minority of the nation’s students enjoy. Adult returning students now make up a large mass of those attending university. Non-traditional students make up 40 percent of all college students. Together with commuting students, or others taking classes online, they show that the traditional residential college experience is something many students either can’t afford or don’t want. The for-profit colleges, which often cater to working adult students with a combination of night and weekend classes and online coursework, have tapped into the massive demand for practical and customized education. It’s a sign of what is to come.


hat about the destruction these changes will cause? Think again of the music industry analogy. Today, when you drive down music row in Nashville, a street formerly dominated by the offices of record labels and music publishing companies, you see a lot of empty buildings and rental signs. The contraction in the music industry has been relentless since the Mp3 and the iPod emerged. This isn’t just because piracy is easier now; it’s also because consumers have been given, for the first time, the opportunity to break the album down into individual songs. They can purchase the one or two songs they want and leave the rest. Higher education is about to become like that.

For nearly a thousand years the university system has looked just about the same: professors, classrooms, students in chairs. The lecture and the library have been at the center of it all. At its best, traditional classroom education offers the chance for intelligent and enthusiastic students to engage a professor and one another in debate and dialogue. But typical American college education rarely lives up to this ideal. Deep engagement with texts and passionate learning aren’t the prevailing characteristics of most college classrooms today anyway. More common are grade inflation, poor student discipline, and apathetic teachers rubber-stamping students just to keep them paying tuition for one more term.

If you ask students what they value most about the residential college experience, they’ll often speak of the unique social experience it provides: the chance to live among one’s peers and practice being independent in a sheltered environment, where many of life’s daily necessities like cooking and cleaning are taken care of. It’s not unlike what summer camp does at an earlier age. For some, college offers the chance to form meaningful friendships and explore unique extracurricular activities. Then, of course, there are the Animal House parties and hookups, which do take their toll: In their research for their book Academically Adrift, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa found that 45 percent of the students they surveyed said they had no significant gains in knowledge after two years of college. Consider the possibility that, for the average student, traditional in-classroom university education has proven so ineffective that an online setting could scarcely be worse. But to recognize that would require unvarnished honesty about the present state of play. That’s highly unlikely, especially coming from present university incumbents.

The open-source educational marketplace will give everyone access to the best universities in the world. This will inevitably spell disaster for colleges and universities that are perceived as second rate. Likewise, the most popular professors will enjoy massive influence as they teach vast global courses with registrants numbering in the hundreds of thousands (even though “most popular” may well equate to most entertaining rather than to most rigorous). Meanwhile, professors who are less popular, even if they are better but more demanding instructors, will be squeezed out. Fair or not, a reduction in the number of faculty needed to teach the world’s students will result. For this reason, pursuing a Ph.D. in the liberal arts is one of the riskiest career moves one could make today. Because much of the teaching work can be scaled, automated or even duplicated by recording and replaying the same lecture over and over again on video, demand for instructors will decline.

Who, then, will do all the research that we rely on universities to do if campuses shrink and the number of full-time faculty diminishes? And how will important research be funded? The news here is not necessarily bad, either: Large numbers of very intelligent and well-trained people may be freed up from teaching to do more of their own research and writing. A lot of top-notch research scientists and mathematicians are terrible teachers anyway. Grant-givers and universities with large endowments will bear a special responsibility to make sure important research continues, but the new environment in higher ed should actually help them to do that. Clearly some kinds of education, such as training heart surgeons, will always require a significant amount of in-person instruction.

Big changes are coming, and old attitudes and business models are set to collapse as new ones rise. Few who will be affected by the changes ahead are aware of what’s coming. Severe financial contraction in the higher-ed industry is on the way, and for many this will spell hard times both financially and personally. But if our goal is educating as many students as possible, as well as possible, as affordably as possible, then the end of the university as we know it is nothing to fear. Indeed, it’s something to celebrate.

Huge survey reveals seven social classes in UK

Wealth Inequality in America

Wealth Inequality in America, The Critique

There are more discussions on Youtube about this video.

Huge survey reveals seven social classes in UK

3 April 2013 BBC

John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett in the Class Sketch

People in the UK now fit into seven social classes, a major survey conducted by the BBC suggests.

It says the traditional categories of working, middle and upper class are outdated, fitting 39% of people.

It found a new model of seven social classes ranging from the elite at the top to a “precariat” – the poor, precarious proletariat – at the bottom.

More than 161,000 people took part in the Great British Class Survey, the largest study of class in the UK.

Class has traditionally been defined by occupation, wealth and education. But this research argues that this is too simplistic, suggesting that class has three dimensions – economic, social and cultural.

The BBC Lab UK study measured economic capital – income, savings, house value – and social capital – the number and status of people someone knows.

The study also measured cultural capital, defined as the extent and nature of cultural interests and activities.

The new classes are defined as:

Audio here (Check source)

  • Elite – the most privileged group in the UK, distinct from the other six classes through its wealth. This group has the highest levels of all three capitals
  • Established middle class – the second wealthiest, scoring highly on all three capitals. The largest and most gregarious group, scoring second highest for cultural capital
  • Technical middle class – a small, distinctive new class group which is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital. Distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy
  • New affluent workers – a young class group which is socially and culturally active, with middling levels of economic capital
  • Traditional working class – scores low on all forms of capital, but is not completely deprived. Its members have reasonably high house values, explained by this group having the oldest average age at 66
  • Emergent service workers – a new, young, urban group which is relatively poor but has high social and cultural capital
  • Precariat, or precarious proletariat – the poorest, most deprived class, scoring low for social and cultural capital

The researchers said while the elite group had been identified before, this is the first time it had been placed within a wider analysis of the class structure, as it was normally put together with professionals and managers.

At the opposite extreme they said the precariat, the poorest and most deprived grouping, made up 15% of the population.

The sociologists said these two groups at the extremes of the class system had been missed in conventional approaches to class analysis, which have focused on the middle and working classes.


Professor of sociology at Manchester University, Fiona Devine, said the survey really gave a sense of class in 21st Century Britain.

The survey has really allowed us to drill down and get a much more complete picture of class in modern Britain”

— Prof Fiona Devine, Manchester University

“What it allows us is to understand is a more sophisticated, nuanced picture of what class is like now.

“It shows us there is still a top and a bottom, at the top we still have an elite of very wealthy people and at the bottom the poor, with very little social and cultural engagement,” she said.

“It’s what’s in the middle which is really interesting and exciting, there’s a much more fuzzy area between the traditional working class and traditional middle class.

“There’s the emergent workers and the new affluent workers who are different groups of people who won’t necessarily see themselves as working or middle class.

“The survey has really allowed us to drill down and get a much more complete picture of class in modern Britain.”

Video here (Check source)

The researchers also found the established middle class made up 25% of the population and was the largest of all the class groups, with the traditional working class now only making up 14% of the population.

They say the new affluent workers and emergent service workers appear to be the children of the “traditional working class,” which they say has been fragmented by de-industrialisation, mass unemployment, immigration and the restructuring of urban space.

What class are you?

Class figures

  • The full class survey takes about 25 minutes and covers wealth and job type, interests and social circle
  • Compare your score to the nation’s
  • Receive a personalised coat-of-arms

BBC Lab UK worked with Prof Mike Savage of the London School of Economics and Prof Devine on the study.

The findings have been published in the Sociology Journal and presented at a conference of the British Sociological Association on Wednesday.

Researchers asked a series of questions about income, house value, savings, cultural and leisure activities and the occupations of friends.

They were able to determine a person’s economic, social and cultural capital scores from the answers and analysed the scores to create its class system.

The GBCS was launched online in January 2011, but data showed participants were predominantly drawn from the well-educated social groups.

To overcome this a second identical survey was run with a survey company GFK, with a sample of people representing the population of the UK as a whole, using the information in parallel.


读罢校园里的中国经济信号 from 南方周末,已然全部沦陷。就连唯一招人的国企,其实早就满编了,只不过是应政府要求保证就业率罢了。




































看到这里你再想一想中国,几乎所有中国人都热衷于购买住房,住房总是以超出其价值的价格出售,目前中国的住房自有率已经是全球最高,调查显示,中国自有住房拥有率高达89.68%,远超世界 60%左右的水平。在中国,下层老百姓的所有积蓄,基本上都是为了购买住房。虽然中国已经有了这么高的住房自有率,但是几乎每个人都在喊“买不起房子”。
































“中国太难改变了,即使搬动一张桌子,改装一个火炉,几乎都要流血。而且,也未必一定能搬动,能改装,不是用很大的鞭子打在背上,中 国自己是不肯动弹的……”


From: http://blog.ifeng.com/article/3109152.html

2009-08-30 10:17:56


在近代以前的很长一段时间内,地处东亚地区的中国都是这“一亩三分地”里的第一强国。因之,很早就扯出了“天下共 主”或曰“天朝上国”的大纛用来号令天下。在这种深入骨髓的优越心理的作用下,中央帝国一向把自己看作是整个世界文明的中心,是高人一等的上天的选民。但 与此同时,则把所有中国之外的国家统统视为粗野少文的“夷狄”之邦,并在此基础之上建立起了以中央帝国为中心的悠久的“朝贡体制”。



因为视别的国家为附属国和处于化外的蛮夷之地,所以在中国皇帝接见这些国家派来“向化”的贡使时,为了固化这种由中 国人自己制订的“中国在上,其他国家在下”的所谓天下秩序,尽皆要求人家的使臣行中国的国粹“下跪”大礼。在中国的统治者们看来,“下跪”的背后实际上涉 及到天朝上国的面子问题和绝对权威,同时也意味着蛮夷之邦对这个由中国建立起来的天下秩序的自觉认可和臣服。正是由于这个原因,所以在外国使团来访时,尽 管负责接待工作的理藩院要处理的各种具体事务纷繁复杂,但唯于“下跪”一节上尤其较真儿,在具体执行时甚至讲究到了斤斤计较的程度。

于1644年入主中原的大清王朝,尽管在汉族知识分子看来,本身就属于夷狄乱华的异种王朝,但由于“八旗铁骑”武运 亨通,一时间征服了很多弱小的邻邦,所以在定鼎北京之后,对于以前由汉族政权所发明的这个古礼,同样采取了“拿来主义”的政策继续奉行不悖。甚至还将这一 礼仪发扬光大,把由前朝皇帝明太祖朱元璋发明的要求各国贡使在觐见时所行的“五拜三叩”之礼,换成了颇具满族特色更加繁琐的“三跪九叩”大礼。

但是,沉浸在天朝上邦的乌托邦里沾沾自喜的大清王朝的统治者们并没有意识到,当历史的一页翻到了18世纪中晚期之 后,中国的外部环境实际上已经发生了天翻地覆的变化。从这个时间点开始,自他们所比较熟悉的亚洲小天地之外,一些裹挟着文艺复兴和工业革命的气息,驾驶着 先进舰船的高鼻梁、蓝眼睛的欧洲人开始越来越多地登陆华夏故土传教经商。大清的统治者们所面临的新情况是,这些国家的洋人和那些一向对中国俯首称臣的亚洲 各国的人种根本不同,他们所属的那些遥远的国家并不是中国的“贡国”,而是和大清王朝并起并坐的独立之邦。因此,和这样一些国家的人员打交道,倘若仍然固 守原来夜郎自大式的“朝贡体制”,动辄以“文明的中心”傲人,必然会引发这些国家的强烈反弹。总之,历史给大清王朝的统治者提出了一道崭新的命题。

然而,非常不幸的是,被自大和盲目冲昏了头的大清王朝统治者并没有对外部世界的这种变化做出及时而正确的回应。由于 他们根本不知道中国接下来面临的将是“三千年未有之大变局”,所以,在对待欧美来的外国人时,仍然以老掉牙的“夷狄之邦”的陈旧观念来看待人家,硬是要把 这些国家统统列入朝贡之国的范畴,并逼迫着人家予以承认。尤其是当这些国家派出的使臣在觐见大清皇帝时,顽固地坚持让人家行在欧洲文明里明显带有侮辱意味 的下跪大礼。结果,在中国和西方世界最初的几次试探性接触中,一个简单的“下跪问题”便成了一座根本无法逾越的高山,将一切可能进行的正常对话和交流远远 地挡在了山脚之下,并最终“化玉帛为干戈”,演化成了一场人类文明交流史上的大悲剧。


1792年9月,为了和东方这个遥远而神秘的国度正式建立商业和政治上的关系,当时的英王乔治三世借着为乾隆皇帝祝 寿的名义,向中国派遣了一支由马戛尔尼勋爵率领的官方使团。这支由800多人组成的庞大船队,带着精心准备的19宗、590件充分反映了欧洲现代文明成果 的国礼,远渡重洋,经过10个月的航行,在1793年7月顺利抵达了中国天津的大沽口。

当时,乔治三世时代的英国刚刚完成了工业革命,在全世界建立起了许多殖民地,纯然是世界上的第一等强国。由于迅速发 展的英国急需获得中国的原材料尤其是庞大的市场,所以出使中国的马戛尔尼使团的一个主要使命就是希望能够和清政府谈判通商事宜,并逐渐建立起正式的外交关 系。以今天的眼光来看,英国向清政府提出的要求实属正常,并无任何非分之处。

但是,在天朝大国的温开水里悠哉游哉惯了的清王朝统治者根本没有也不可能认识到这一访问的重大历史意义。虽然清王朝 上下对使团的接待不可谓不隆重,但是在内心里还是把这个使团当成了仰慕天朝威仪、远道而来以表示倾心“向化”的贡使。顺理成章的一个逻辑就是,在马戛尔尼 要求觐见乾隆皇帝时,清朝的官员硬是逼着使团人员像朝贡国的使臣一样行三跪九叩之礼。
很显然,这样的要求在马戛尔尼勋爵看来近乎是对大英帝国国王陛下和他自己的一种侮辱,自然是遭到了他的强烈反对。为 此,清朝的官员和英国的代表进行了几个回合的磋商。为了能够完成此行的使命,马戛而尼的态度后来有所软化,但他还是坚持说,清国和英国本为互相平等的友 邦,既然清国要求英国的使臣在觐见清国皇帝时行跪拜礼,那么,根据现代外交关系中的“对等交往”原则,在英国使臣对大清皇帝行下跪礼的同时,清朝的官员也 应该向英国国王陛下的画像行相同的下跪礼。毫无疑问,这样的建议是不可能为妄自尊大的清朝官员所接受的。双方由此陷入了难堪的僵局之中。

现在还不是很清楚,这个“礼仪之争”最后是如何获得了暂时性的化解的。总之,马戛尔尼最后终于在承德的避暑山庄见到 了乾隆皇帝。对于马戛尔尼在觐见大清皇帝时究竟有没有按照大清朝的礼制行“三跪九叩”之礼,现有的中外各种资料说法不一。大清朝留下来的资料坚持称马戛尔 尼是下了跪的。但是,考虑到大清朝的官员一贯文饰太平,拔高自己,贬低别国,所以此说并不可信。在这个问题上,我们还是宁愿相信英国人的说法,也就是说马 戛尔尼在见到乾隆皇帝时,并没有按照清朝的礼制下跪,而是采用了在欧洲觐见异国国王时一度使用过的“单腿下跪”礼制。总之,以觐见乾隆皇帝为高潮,这场标 志着东西方两个大国之间的“两个聋子之间的对话”,就这样在很不愉快的气氛中草草收场了。

事后,马戛尔尼使团除了得到了乾隆皇帝赐予的极为丰厚的礼品之外,事先向满清王朝所提出的派公使常驻北京等几项要求 几乎悉数被否定。乾隆皇帝还以上国之君才有的极为傲慢而霸道的语气,给大英帝国国王写了一份充满了炫耀和训诫意味的“赦书”。在这个奇怪的文件里,这位满 清皇帝牛皮哄哄地写到——


满怀希望出使中国的马戛尔尼就这样结束了这次被英国主流社会解读为“充满了羞辱”的远东之旅。据说,因为自感有辱使 命,马戛尔尼一度甚至想到过自杀。但从更为宏大一点的视野来看,这次事件对于英国来讲,收获其实很大的。正式因为这次远行,英国人第一次看清楚了这个曾经 被伏尔泰等个别启蒙思想家捧上了天的神秘国度的真相,发现了它在华丽的外衣下面的真实底色。正如法国人阿兰·佩雷菲特在《停滞的帝国——两个世界的撞击》 一书说:“那只是一个泥足巨人,只要轻轻一抵就可把他打倒在地上。”

在英国的马戛尔尼使团出访中国之后不久,欧洲的俄罗斯、荷兰以及葡萄牙等国也向中国派出了各自负有类似使命的使团。 但是,由于清王朝誓死不愿意承认这些国家的平等地位,顽固地坚持过时的“朝贡体制”,这些使团都铩羽而归。其中,由戈洛夫金伯爵率领的俄罗斯使团在库伦就 因为不愿意向清朝皇帝的赐宴行叩首礼而被逼从蒙古折回。而由荷兰东印度公司驻日本和孟加拉的代表蒂津所率领的使团和葡萄牙的使团,虽然都被迫入乡随俗,在 觐见清朝皇帝时行了三拜九叩之礼,但最后的结局似乎并不美妙,他们仍然遭到了野蛮和粗暴的对待,最后带着一颗被伤害的自尊心返回了欧洲。

值得一提的仍然是英国。也许是对马戛尔尼之行的失败有点不死心,在1816年,英国政府再一次向中国派出了一个由阿 美士德率领的外交使团。可这一次使团的际遇比马戛尔尼使团还要糟糕。对于马戛尔尼使团,不管怎么说,满清王朝总体上是以“微笑政策”予以接待的;而对待阿 美士德使团则一变而成了“斥骂政策”。阿美士德甚至根本没有见到嘉庆皇帝,就被“驱逐”出了中国大陆。

哈佛大学的中国近代史专家孔飞力教授在其《叫魂——1768年中国妖术大恐慌》一书中这样指出:历史就是这样,未来 的一切尽管不可预见,但是构成未来的种种要件却正存在于现在的各种因素之中。从这个意义上说,马戛尔尼使团以及后来几个欧洲外交使团在满清王朝遭到的外交 失败,已经为后来发生在中国的一系列历史悲剧的上演画好了大的背景。

既然用彬彬有礼的外交渠道打不开中国的那扇巨大而封闭的大门,西方世界的必然选择就是用先进的舰队和大炮强硬地对 话。在马戛尔尼出使清廷之后不到50年,阿美士德出使清廷之后23年,他的国家终于以清朝在广东沿海所实施的激进的“禁烟运动”为口实,采取血与火的“炮 舰政策”杀进了中国的堂奥。而此前在英国的议会上坚决支持大英帝国对大清朝用兵的就有当年陪同阿美士德使团访问中国的主要成员托马斯·斯当东。

在著名的《剑桥中国晚清史》一书中,开宗明义就鲜明地指出:“欧洲人的到来并牢牢地在这里扎下了根”是决定晚清历史 走向的三大因素之一。从第一次鸦片战争开始,凭借着在炮舰政策的压力下几个与满清朝廷签订的条约,西方人大量进入中国经商、传教和游历。截至1861年, 西方各国已经正式在北京和各个沿海的通商口岸开设了公使馆和领事馆,终于实现了马戛尔尼们所要求的外国使节常驻北京和通商口岸的计划。而随着天朝所一向奉 行的“朝贡体制”的渐次崩溃,新型的“条约体制”的逐步建立,在京的外国使节觐见大清皇帝的问题遂成为一个不能回避的难题。

之所以说是“难题”,乃是因为尽管在屡次战争中吃过洋人的不少苦头,但满清的统治者还是迟迟不肯放下那种虚无的优越 感。在外国使节觐见清朝皇帝时究竟“跪还是不跪”,依然没有得到一个令人欣慰的解决方案。故此,很长一段时间内,清王朝对外国使节越来越迫切地要求觐见满 清皇帝递交国书的请求,一律祭出“拖”字诀,千方百计能拖一天算一天。


自然,在这些清廷所依仗的督抚里面是断然少不了保守派的。这些人往往没有和洋人打交道的经验,但却最喜欢坐在衙门内 夸夸其谈地谈论“夷务”。他们罔顾世界大势,不允许天朝体制有任何更改,顽固地坚持外国使节在觐见大清皇帝时一定要行跪拜大礼。但与此同时,在与西方世界 不断打交道过程当中逐渐清醒起来的开明派督抚们,却力主放弃要求外国使节跪拜的老规矩。“同治中兴”的名臣曾国藩就援引康熙年间平等对待俄罗斯的先例,建 议朝廷把各国公使看成是具有平等地位的敌国的使节,提议允许他们免于遵守中国的习俗。正忙于自强运动的李鸿章也持相同的意见,他主张允许外国公使在觐见大 清皇帝时沿用晋见本国统治者的礼节。



1873年6月27日是一个在东西方交往史上值得大书一笔的日子。这一天的早上五点半钟,在北京的外国使节早早地来 到了皇宫的外面等待大清皇帝破天荒的接见。值得一提的是,在接见前,还发生了一起颇具戏剧性的小插曲——前来北京交换1871年条约批准书的日本外务大臣 副岛种臣以自己的职位是大使级为理由,要求在各国使臣中第一个觐见同治皇帝,结果他靠着自己的聪敏达到了目的。

上午九点钟,接见正式开始。在恭亲王奕的陪同下,年轻的同治皇帝在紫光阁相继会见了日本、俄国、美国、英国、法国 和荷兰的公使以及德国的翻译官。各国的使节们将自己国家的国书放到皇帝前面的桌案上,行鞠躬礼,同治皇帝则通过恭亲王之口对使节们所代表的国家元首表示了 良好的问候和祝愿,使节们随即告退。这场被西方外交界企盼了12年之久的会见,据说只持续了三十分钟就宣告结束。(见费正清、刘广京主编《剑桥中国晚清 史》)


屈指算来,从乾隆皇帝接见马戛尔尼到同治皇帝接见外国使臣,这中间整整过了将近80年的时间!大清王朝用了80年, 才解决了一个外国使节在觐见皇帝时下跪与不下跪的问题!于此可见,在中国任何一点些许的进步所付出的沉重的时间成本。这就不免令人想起了鲁迅先生在《娜拉走后怎样》中的警言:“中国太难改变了,即使搬动一张桌子,改装一个火炉,几乎都要流血。而且,也未必一定能搬动,能改装,不是用很大的鞭子打在背上,中 国自己是不肯动弹的……”









“每次选举,大家都不选他,都说No,但是。。。”,他的手像捣浆糊那样捣腾了一下。”最后总是Yes !”





来源: 中国青年报













































































































By 陈冠中 《中国时报》05年4月足本



可想我这代很多人对童年时期的贫穷还有些记忆,家长和家庭的目标,印在我们脑子里的,似乎就是勤俭,安定下来,改善生活,赚钱,赚钱,赚钱。 我们的上一代当然也有一直在香港的,但很大的一群是来自广东的、来自上海和大陆其它地方的,是在认同大陆某个地域而不是香港的背景下走出来的。南来的知识分子更有一种文化上的国族想象,逃至殖民边城,不免有「花果飘零」之叹。


这里我得及时声明我是在发表对同代人的个人意见,并不是代表同代人说话,说不定有人一生出来就懂得爱国反殖。我在下文想说明的其中一点恰恰就是爱国和民主一样,对我们来说都是后天慢慢建构出来的。 意识中排斥当代中国 我们的中小学历史教科书是不介绍中国二十世纪当代史的。尽管中文报纸上有报导大陆的消息,我这代在成长期往往在意识中是把当代中国大致排斥掉的。


我们的学校当时是怎样的学校呢?是一条以考试为目标的生产线。我们这代人一个很大的特点,就是考完试后就会把学过的内容给丢了,这对香港整代成功人士有很大的影响:他们可以很快很聪明地学很多东西,但转变也很快,过后即丢,而且学什么、做什么是无所谓的,只要按游戏规则,把分数拿到。 在中学里面,我觉得唯一不全是为了考试的学科,除了教会学校的圣经课,就是中文中史课。我们的中文老师可能也是我们唯一接触到中国大传统的渠道,关于中国文化,甚至做人德行,都可能是从中文课上获得的。现在我这代中人,对文化历史时政有些理想主义想法的人,很可能都是中文课的好学生,或读过武侠小说,否则说不定连小小的种子都没有了。




我们跟父母搞了些代沟,稍留长了头发,穿牛仔裤,弹吉他。因为我们曾手拉手唱过英语反战歌,我以为不用问大家都是接受平等及参与性的民主,我要到了1980年代中才觉悟到没有必然关连。 1973年,香港股市在狂升后出现「股灾」。

我这代的青春期,就由英美时髦文化开始,到全民上了投资一课后毕业。与同期同代大陆人太不一样,我们可说是「什么都没有发生」的一代。 当然,中间经过1966年和1967年的两次街头抗争插曲。第一次带头反天星小轮加价的是青年人,对未成年的我们有点不甚了了的轻微吸引。第二次冲突大多了,是文革的溢界,逼着站在港英一边的明智大多数和他们的子女,随后的许多年对中国大陆更有戒心──把大陆视为他者,相对于「我们」香港。除此外,以我观察,六七年事件对我这代大多数人的心灵和知识结构并没有留下显著痕迹。















我在香港拍过一部美国电影,美国的设计师要做一个布景台子,叫香港的道具师帮他做,他每天来问做好没有,香港道具师都回答他,不要紧,到时一定会做好的,等到开拍那天,果然那张台子及时被搬进来了,表面上看起来还是不错,但仔细一看,台子的后面是没有油的,因为后面是拍不到的,而且只能放着不能碰,一碰就塌,,美国的道具师不明白,为什么我早就请你们做个台子,要到最后一刻才交货,并只有前没有后;香港的道具师也装不明白,你要我们做个道具,不是及时交货了吗,而且是几秒钟镜头一晃就过去的那种,为什么要做得太全呢,在镜头里看效果是不错的,况且不收货的话也没时间改了。这是我们的can do精神、港式精明和效率。
































这就是香港经济的移形换影大法:香港政府既似是积极不干预的放任小政府,又是对社会能力强势投入的大政府,像是有两个迥异的经济学家──傅立曼和阿玛塔耶森── 同时在指导香港经济,而从制度政策看,看到的却是一只依重地产并以干预来偏护地产金融财团的有形的手。一切美好,全靠地产,直到它变了怪兽。
















我知道还是有人以为政府少说话少计划,香港经济就自然会好,这是我这代既得利益者的一厢情愿。2004年市道转旺,大家憋了很久,期待重温旧梦,很不争气的香港人又把资本拿去炒楼了。可惜时代不一样,一个更严峻的变局已成形,我们不可能回到往日 ──何况以前香港政府也从来不是我们以为的那种不干预。