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Letter: Class ceilings

Sir: Your leader on social class (15 December) rather misses the point. Of course there are other sources of personal identity. However, the government social class scheme is concerned not with people's identities but with their life chances. In this sense class remains crucial.

From the risks of perinatal mortality, through those of having certain diseases, to the age at which we die and the cause of death, there are strong class relationships. These relationships persist, and so they need to be understood. Our proposal is for a class scheme which will improve our understanding of such relationships.

Post-modern slogans about living our lives as "free-to-choose" individuals do not alter the realities of class. There may be more to the world than social class, but nevertheless even people's chances to "break out" of the mould, and the ways in which they are able to "assert a personal identity" are circumscribed by class. We do not all begin life with equal social resources; nor do we all have the same opportunities or effective choices in the course of our lives. This is because there really is such a thing as society.