Without privilege, education and positive role models it has been hard for ordinary working-class people to make sense of life in one generation … but maybe in three?
My grandparents’ generation were virtually all living in extreme poverty. Most of them were farm labourers, living in a tied cottage; working for a small house with a large garden. The garden had to grow most of what they ate, because they certainly couldn’t afford to but any.
The forced migration to towns during industrialisation was even worse for many. A similarly basic tiny house, a tiny garden, long hours for very little pay … and lifelong debt – always the favourite tool of the very rich, for ensuring bondage and servitude in the working class. The ultimate prison.
As industrialisation ‘progressed’, the capitalists needed more consumers … and the working class gained some disposable income – but not the education to learn how to become empowered by a little wealth.
In the UK, in the boom years after WW2, there was an opportunity for many working folk, even unskilled, to become home owners, albeit with a 25 year mortgage – effectively paying the builders for their new home once, and the money lenders several times over.
Many seized the opportunity, but some children suffered from both parents working full time (and more).
The next generation have a corresponding amount of casualties, but progress in psychology has done some good. The major ‘first’ for this generation has been having parents that aren’t enslaved by lifelong debt, rents, insecurity. Often the parents can give their children an earlier and/or easier start in home ownership than they had.
Up to this point, no generation of the working class has had ideal circumstances to build a complete, creative life.
Maybe 3 generations can.