pattrice's Reviews > Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

Chavs by Owen   Jones
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Sep 14, 2011

Read in September, 2011

U.S. readers may be surprised by the very many similarities between the stereotypes of white working class Britons and the stereotypes of African Americans. Seeing how these particular stereotypes are deployed in the U.K. to cover up the effects of deindustrialization, rationalize the demolition of public housing, and blame an ostensible "culture of poverty" for the natural outcomes of late consumer capitalism may make it easier for people in the U.S. to deconstruct the lies that seem to many to be self-evident truths here. Indeed, I used examples from this book in a lesson on stereotyping the very night that I finished this book, and--after they got over being shocked that "white" people are stereotyped in these ways--students were then better able to see the function of such stereotypes in covering up and justifying economic inequalities. But, be warned, this is a U.K. book, written for a U.K. audience, so there's quite a bit of detail concerning U.K. politics. If you're not already familiar with Thatcherism and its ongoing effects, do read those parts of this book, because it's happening here, with Wisconsin just the latest example. But U.S. readers who are not political scientists may want to skim-skip some of the sections dealing with the details of U.K. party politics.
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message 1: by Chris (new)

Chris Amies I think this comparison is a very valid one. the word 'chav' originally meant a drunken, violent youth (male or female) but now is used as a term of abuse for the white working class - by people who would not dream of being as rude about the Black or Asian working class. Also re the public housing point: social housing (and those who live in it) is demonised by a surprisingly large proportion of the British public.

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