Owen Jones’ Chavs: who is working class now?

10 thoughts on “Owen Jones’ Chavs: who is working class now?”

  1. I have not even heard the word ‘chav’!! I may be on a steep learning curve when I visit England in May. On another note, have you read “Watching the English” written by an anthropologist whose name escapes me? It is very funny, especially English/American comparisons. Another hilarious observation is the old Jilly Cooper classic, “Class”.

  2. I am out of it in Venezuela but, from what I could glean and what I have osmosed, so to say, over time via ongoing family and mate contacts, the use of ‘status quo’ in that last pragraph would obscure what I have come to view more as a nation with a severe identity crisis and which has been in a confusingly blurred state of flux for the last three decades (I’ve been gone for over four) or so. Wherefore, if allowed, I’d posit that there has’nt been an identifiable “status quo” for a long time, rendering the generation of community consciousness pretty difficult. Any corrective comment welcome! PS: I hadn’t been aware of “chav” either until quite recently and only after this piece today do I have any real idea of what it is.

  3. Well Written!

    Until I had to stop working as a teacher due to ill health recently, even on a full teacher’s salary I was still in receipt of benefits as my income was not sufficient to support our family of 4 (living in a council house, so NOT overpriced accommodation)

    How is it that a teacher with a master’s degree in physics can not earn enough to be below the minimum that is needed for an average family?

    Now I am ill, i feel like a benefit scrounger, because that’s what the media tells me I am, despite the fact that my doctor says I am too ill to work, and I know that I am, I feel miserable and depressed to be in this position.

    I have to be assessed by an external agency to see if I am ill or not? (My employer was legally required to accept my medical certificates, why is the Benefits Agency not?)

    On another note, the word Chav comes from the Traveller word for child. It’s use in the book’s title put me off too. It’s a pity, the book sounds really good.

  4. Simon Heffer: “This is the mindset which most journalists and politicians have signed up to … the respectable working class … does not now usually work at all, but is sustained by the welfare state.” Ah, ironic thanks for this – it explains why my letters to the BBC on the topic of council housing – and how its cessation and selling off have triggered the housing crisis – go unacknowledged and unreplied to.

    Yes ‘chav’ is Romani for child ‘chavi’ – there is an article here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chav

    This is unfortunate. Travellers are victimised by both rich and poor the length and breadth of the British Isles simply because settled populations are antipathetic to cultures which move about. The fact that a Romani word has been given a perjorative sense speaks volumes about the society we live in.

    I defend erudition but one thing I will never understand about modern Britain is why its people allow themselves to be ruled by an Oxbridge minority, that is surely at loggerheads to the concept of democracy?

  5. Thank you Gerry. Another great piece of writing. The last sentence “If the best work of our social scientists was made common knowledge, I can’t help thinking there’d be a revolution.” raised a couple of questions for me. How do we make it common knowledge? Why hasn’t there been any work by social scientists (perhaps there has but I am unaware of any) on why we have become so complacent and lost that spirit of ’45?

  6. Thank you Gerry and I think the basic points are made well,
    Chav is a derogatory term. Decent , hardworking people from all kinds of social backgrounds do not make the kind of news the various media want to feed us. The BBC is increasingly part of the shaping of the news we are allowed to hear.
    Thatcher and Blair, especially the latter have done much in the last thirty plus years to ruin our nation. Blair even thinks that going into Iraq and Afghanistan was still the right decision.
    Our politicians have badly let us down. And the laws passed even recently in our country do not support equality or strong family life. Call centers are slavery in many respects. But so too is working for Tescos!
    Answers are not easy, but one cant help thinking we need some soon..

  7. Strange how every actual working-class person I know, myself included, finds Jones’s book to be patronising, romanticised crap. I suppose you hand wringers need to turn someone into nothing but a downtrodden victim so you can feel righteous and good about yourselves for standing up.for and ‘saving’ us.

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