Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

By Owen Jones.

A well-written book which contains many many pertinent ideas regarding ‘chavs, class and how it relates to Britain, and other countries, today. Class is definitely not dead – even if conservatives choose to not define things in this way for their own ends.The occupations that traditionally related to the working class have changed from the like of manufacturing and skilled labour to call-centres and supermarket – but class still exists and the income gap has widened dramatically. We are not ‘all middle class now’.

One (of many) really good points Jones makes is that the narrative we are fed is that British manufacturing in the late 70s was uncompetitive and finished – so that justified the lack of government support and destructive economic policies of the Tories. However, in other parts of Europe industry was supported and while it wasn’t unscathed there are still strong manufacturing sectors and more balanced economies than we have in Britain. The government bailed out the banks in 2008 to help them through a difficult time so they didn’t ‘fail’ – why couldn’t that have been done in the 70s and early 80s with manufacturing? This would mean that the current economic woes partly caused by an over-reliance on the financial sector wouldn’t be as extreme.

There is much food for thought in this book. The discussion relating to the bias of the middle-class media is excellent as is the analysis of aspiration.  It’s easy to read and understand and quite immersive. Following are a couple of good quotes.

This was from a conservative MP off-the-record:

‘What you have to realize about the Conservative Party,’ he said as though it was a trivial, throwaway comment, ‘is that it is a coalition of privileged interests. Its main purpose is to defend that privilege. And the way it wins elections is by giving just enough to just enough other people.’

And another good point.

‘Clearly not everyone can become a middle-class professional or a businessperson: the majority of people still have to do the working-class jobs in offices and shops that society needs to keep ticking. By putting the emphasis on escaping these jobs rather than improving their conditions, we end up disqualifying those who remain in them. We frown upon the supermarket checkout staff, the cleaners, the factory workers—slackers who failed to climb the ladder offered by social mobility.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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