Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

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Verso, Jul 15, 2011 - Political Science - 256 pages
6 Reviews

A compelling investigation into the myth and reality of working-class life in contemporary Britain.

In modern Britain, the working class has become an object of fear and ridicule. From Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard to the demonization of Jade Goody, media and politicians alike dismiss as feckless, criminalized and ignorant a vast, underprivileged swathe of society whose members have become stereotyped by one, hate-filled word: chavs.

In this groundbreaking investigation, Owen Jones explores how the working class has gone from “salt of the earth” to “scum of the earth.” Exposing the ignorance and prejudice at the heart of the chav caricature, one based on the media’s inexhaustible obsession with an indigent white underclass, he portrays a far more complex reality. Moving through Westminster’s lobbies and working-class communities from Dagenham to Dewsbury Moor, Jones reveals the increasing poverty and desperation of communities made precarious by wrenching social and industrial change, and all but abandoned by the aspirational, society-fragmenting policies of Thatcherism and New Labour. The chav stereotype, he argues, is used by governments as a convenient figleaf to avoid genuine engagement with social and economic problems, and to justify widening inequality.

Based on a wealth of original research, and wide-ranging interviews with media figures, political opinion-formers and workers, Chavs is a damning indictment of the media and political establishment, and an illuminating, disturbing portrait of inequality and class hatred in modern Britain.

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Review: Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

User Review  - Ana Rodriguez - Goodreads

Very well researched, good deal of information dating back to the early 80's. However I did feel as though there was a large degree of reversing the Demonization on the middle-class. It's very obvious ... Read full review

Review: Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

User Review  - Melva - Goodreads

Nothing too shocking; yet re-affirmed my dislike of Thatcher. More americans should read this book for insight. Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Owen Jones has worked in the British Parliament as a trade union lobbyist and parliamentary researcher. He is writing a PhD on the history of blue-collar America and the rise of the New Right. He lives in London.

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