People walking across a bridge in a city

Tackling social class inequalities: #Makeit10

​​​​​​​We know that social class-based discrimination has negative impacts on people’s life-chances, widens health inequalities and limits opportunities.

About the campaign

In order to truly ‘level up’, eliminating the discrimination associated with social class is vital. We’re campaigning to have social class added as a protected characteristic to the Equalities Act.

There are currently nine other protected characteristics:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

We want social class to become the tenth and #Makeit10.

Get involved

If you have research, insight or a story to share about class based discrimination, please contact our public affairs team at [email protected]

Why are we running this campaign?

The focus of our Senate campaign is voted for by our members, following submissions and presentations from across our member networks

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the incredibly unequal society in which we live, and the damaging impact this has on people’s physical and mental health, life chances and opportunities.

The 2021 Queen’s Speech highlighted a need to ‘level up’ opportunities across social classes and evidence has shown the role of social class in exacerbating the effects of the pandemic – including on infection rates, illness and deaths.

Adding social class as a protected characteristic within the Equalities Act would provide people with the same legal protections against being discriminated against on the basis of social class or social economic status.

What will we do?

The campaign will aim to focus on four main areas, where there is evidence for revising the Equality Act to include social class – education, health and healthcare, business and industry, and communities and housing.

We will use psychologically informed evidence and insight to advocate for the inclusion of social class as a protected characteristic within the Equalities Act.

We aim to:

  • share our research and evidence and call on the UK Government to #Makeit10 and include social class as a protected characteristic
  • work within the BPS ED&I framework improve BPS internal processes to demonstrate a commitment to tackling social inequality and social class within BPS and the psychological professions ​
  • provide opportunities for young people from lower socio-economic environments to study, be mentored, and enter the psychological professions

Meet the team

The BPS’ Senate campaign is spearheaded by a diverse group of members who are passionate about using psychology to understand and reduce social class-based inequalities in our society.

Dr Bridgette Rickett

Dr Bridgette Rickett is a psychologist who uses qualitative analytical methods to understand identities, relations, and experiences, particularly around social class, gender, work, and health inequalities.

Professor Paula Reavey

Prof. Paula Reavey is Professor of Psychology and Mental Health at LSBU and Lead Director of Research and Education for the Design in Mental Health Network UK. Her passion is to understand lived experience in context, including social inequalities and class.

Dr Maxine Woolhouse

Dr Maxine Woolhouse is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Beckett University. She is a feminist and critical psychologist whose research interests lie in the areas of gender and social class and how these intersect to shape people’s food, eating, weight and body management practices.

Dr Matthew J Easterbrook

Dr Matthew J. Easterbrook is a social psychologist at the University of Sussex whose work increases our understanding of, and ability to reduce, educational inequality.  He investigates the psychological barriers that contribute to educational inequalities between groups, and designs, implements, and evaluates bespoke psychological interventions that aim to reduce educational inequalities. 

Dr Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington

Dr Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological & Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics, Faculty Affiliate of the LSE International Inequalities institute, and Associate Editor of the British Journal of Psychology. She is a social and political psychologist who uses experimental and survey methods to study the psychological antecedents and consequences of socioeconomic disparities.

Dr Carl Walker

Dr Carl Walker is Reader and a community psychologist who serves on the British Psychological Society National Community Psychology section committee. Recently he co-founded the national group ‘Psychologists against Austerity’ and his recent research involves action research projects on wellbeing drawing on statactivist techniques.

News/research/evidence

BPS Report - Psychology of social class-based inequalities - Policy implications for a revised (2010) UK Equality Act

This report provides a first of its kind rapid review and synthesis of research in psychology on social class-based inequalities with an orientation toward the UK policy context. It reviews primary and secondary research published within the discipline of psychology (within the UK or a related context), examining the impact of class-based prejudice and discrimination, and/or the psychological processes that contribute to social class-based and wider socioeconomic inequalities.

‘We need reform, and class has got to be protected’

Dr Bridgette Rickett, from the British Psychological Society’s Senate campaign group on tackling class-based inequality, meets Dr Suriyah Bi, founder of Equality Act Review.

Using Community Psychology approaches to reduce the impact of inequality

This guidance builds on the NHS community mental health framework for adults and older adults and details how the NHS long-term plan’s vision for modernised, whole person, whole population approaches can be achieved by working in partnership with local communities.