Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

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Verso, Jul 15, 2011 - Political Science - 256 pages
8 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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jcbrunner - LibraryThing

An outstanding read that isn't at its heart about chavs at all. During my visit to Manchester and Liverpool, I could observe, to my horror, the strange customs and dress code of the British working ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Opinionated - LibraryThing

A very passionate call for the return of class politics, Jones' book will be read by nods of agreement by anyone with a flicker of belief in social justice. The only problem is of course that only the ... 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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