Code switching in its current definition is the phenomenon of a person changing their behaviour in order to fit in with other people. It’s often used when people of a minority culture alter their behaviour in order to fit in with a majority culture.
Code switching is often interpreted as something that people shouldn’t really have to do, as it stops them being themselves.
This cartoon illustrates an example of when code switching would be a very good thing.
Code switching is in many ways a rebranding of the normal social activity of modifying one’s behaviour in different social settings. It is currently viewed by some people as a bad thing partly because of the current philosophy that you should “be yourself”.
The current usage of the term code switching refers to the action of people changing their behaviour when they are in different cultural settings, usually in order to blend in. In this sense it is most often used with reference to ethnic minority people who are interacting in predominantly white social groups.
The cartoon illustrates a relatively less well remarked upon example of code switching, which is when white working class people need to blend in with white people from higher social classes, here exemplified by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In education the working classes tend to have lower attainment levels than other classes as a result of social discrimination.