"I'm every bourgeois nightmare - a Cockney with intelligence and a million dollars."
Class is a rather vague term. So are class distinctions in many countries. In some, there is the prevailing myth of a classless society adding to its elusive nature. Although it is called a myth, the construct of class is said to influence virtually everybody. Money is a crucial aspect of class but it is also about power, prestige (Russell, 1996) and access to resources. The concept of power is strongly linked to class since it can predict to what extent one can benefit from a society's resources. It correlates with life experiences and has an impact on what an individual is likely to learn, believe, achieve (Lott, 2012) and think about himself or herself. The experience that one belongs to a disapprobated group can affect self-concept and self-esteem and may lead to an internalisation of classism (Russell, 1996).
Cockney is both a regional dialect and a class dialect. It is connected with London's working class and used to be considered as the most despised non-standard form of English probably because Cockneys lived near London's high society which made the difference to standard English more noticeable. Today, people seem to be comparably more tolerable to Cockney (Koudelkova, 2012). No longer "every bourgeouis nightmare"...
Lott, B. (2012) The Social Psychology of Class and Classism, American Psychologist, 650-658
Koudelkova, L. (2012) Cockney and Estuary English. Diploma Thesis via
Richardson, L. (2005) Sticks and Stones: An Exploration of the Embodiment of Social Classism. Qualitative Inquiry, 11(4), 485-491
Russell, G. M. (1996) Internalized Classism: The Role of Class in the Development of Self. 59-71
Photos of Michael Caine (first one by Brian Duffy) via and via and via