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Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
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Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  7,038 ratings  ·  596 reviews
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
Paperback, 298 pages
Published July 15th 2011 by Verso
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 ·  7,038 ratings  ·  596 reviews

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Mark Hebden
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, politics
I grew up on a council estate and I remember the people who live on them with great fondness. I didn’t really know I was working class as I hadn’t become aware of the rigid structure of our society but working class I was then and remain now. That same fondness was once felt across the board, maybe not in full but the majority of people knew that those who lived on council estates were the “salt of the earth”, “the wheels of the economy” or simply that they “loved their mum and would do owt for ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book, and I strongly recommend it. This might be a bit of a strange review, because I don’t think I’m hardly going to talk about this book as much as I should, but rather about a play I saw on the weekend. The point is that the play made me think of this book and I might not have written a review of the book at all other than because of the play, although I’ve now read most of this book twice now.

Some quick background. Chavs is an English term for working class people. The eq
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I agree with the author about Margaret Thatcher and her cruel war on the British poor. But the liberal and left elites now in charge have been even worse in oppressing Britain's indigenous working classes and lumpenproletriat
It was indeed Margaret Thatcher who persecuted the working classes of Britain, taking delight in causing British children to starve and live on the streets but now it is the liberal and left elites who have joined the Thatcherites in persecuting and impoverishing the British
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: trash, race
And then you go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like criticising Gordon Brown for calling that bigoted woman 'bigoted'. And by saying that she made 'mild' remarks about immigration. MILD?!

While the book works at telling you the terrifying misdeeds of the conservatives in the UK (specially Thatcher and Cameron), it focuses a bit too much in white, British-born working class people. It's like immigrants or people of colour don't exist to Owen Jones. And when he made the bigoted woman lo
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
No doubt informative and well enough written - although I have a real problem with the constant throwing around of statistics because anyone, including Jones, can and will manipulate them. "One in five british politicians went to Eton" means A LOT, while "only one in five teenage mothers are unemployed" means NOT AS MUCH AS YOU THINK.

Nevertheless, Jones' main proposition that we may have to think about classes again was very interesting, and some of his ideas are really useful. For example: bei
May 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
Owen Jones far from objective writing should be placed into context. Much of his 'observations' are not first hand and viewed through some pretty thick filters and deep blinkers. The son of a local authority worker and IT lecturer in the North of England whose parents met at a Militant Tendency rally, he came through sixth form college to read history at Oxford and complete hi MA in US history in 2007. His pre-authoring life was spent as a trade union lobbyist. There is no proud history of the w ...more
When the new Eagles stadium here in Philly was being built, at the expense of taxpayers, a policy was put into place by the team. In order for a season ticket holder to still be a season ticket holder in the new stadium, the person would have to pay for the privilege of buying the tickets. This was done so that the 900 level fans (the rowdy bunch to put it mildly) wouldn’t be able to get them. It was class thing; a better class of people would come to the games. Meaning those well off from Jerse ...more
One of the things I couldn’t quite comprehend in the middle of the decade we seem to be calling the noughties was the popularity of the TV show Little Britain among my seemingly sensitive, liberal or progressive circle of friends and acquaintances. I thought for a while that was another version of being not-of-Britain and therefore not getting, for instance, Peter Kay’s humour – but at least in Peter Kay’s case I recognised a degree of affection for the Northern lifestyle his recurrent TV shows ...more
Rachel Louise Atkin
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Honestly? I'm so glad I read this book. I grew up in an environment where it was cool to hate Chavs. Where they were scroungers and idiots and dangers to my community. But this study has helped to undo any of the prejudice that was still left from my teenage years. Jones explains how the right-wing press are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the portrayal of the white working class as complete scumbags. It is a classic divide-and-conquer move by Tories to pit working class communities ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A provocative and stirring book that—despite its British-centric focus—has much to say about modern American politics as it does with the political climate in the U.K. of the past three decades. Now, one of the great political developments of the late 20th to early 21st century has been the "de-politicization" of class and the demonization of the working-class. (Initially brought about by class warriors on the Right—such as Margaret Thatcher and her right-wing brand of Toryism—during the 1980s, ...more
Simon Wood
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing

(Review originally posted on Amazons uk site where the other reviews referred to can be seen).

I would hazard a guess that Owen Jones "Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class" is one of the worst reviewed books on Amazon. I speak with particular regard to the 1 & 2-star reviews, of which the majority appear not to have read beyond the books title, made the assumption that Jones regards Working Class and Chavs to be the same th
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Anthony
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I should have looked more closely at the title, particularly the second part of it.

Is “Chav” a derogatory term of abuse? Yes, quite often. But it can also be something of a badge of honour, rather like an ASBO.

I was for the Chav and Owen Jones to begin with, very much so. I was finding the book both interesting and enlightening. I'm also a sucker for the underdog and it's easy to resent treatment meted out by the ruling elite. Lots of credible examples of this here.

But I began to find it over lo
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I need more stars! This was a three and half rounded up, an entertaining, clever, and passionate book about something that the 'left' should already know but due to middle class bias seems to forget over and over again. Which shows just how problematic the 'left' is. Anyone who's grown up poor will find this all too familiar, so I personally am angry that we still need books like this to help call out problematic caricatures and prejudices, and happy that someone is doing so. It's full of easily ...more
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Everyone should read this book.

It makes me want to hold this book up and say "Yes This is what is happening all around us, to us!"
From classist snobbery I've dealt with in my life, to a real fear of what the future and politics has in store. This book certainly struck a chord with me.
Portal in the Pages
A solid three stars however. Need some time to think this over before I finalise feelings.
Cerys Pryce
May 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
i cannot recommend this book enough - everyone needs to read it!
chapter 4 in particular was very interesting as it touched on influences of tv and literature on the construction of the ‘chav’ caricature.
would also like to apologise to all those who i’ve promised to lend my copy to - there is now a rather long queue as i’ve been singing the praises of this book since i picked it up.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics-society
In a review of my novel, Citizen Zero, it was asked what had happened that the unemployed became so criminalised? At the time, Chavs by Owen Jones didn't exist, but today I can point to the book as a ready answer to the question (and indeed, a part of the 'backstory'.

Jones subtitles his book 'the demonization of the working class' -- but that isn't far removed from criminalising them. For as long as I can remember, debate has raged over welfare reform and 'scroungers' milking the system, of the
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
A very readable and fact-filled and interesting, if sometimes rather TOO geared toward academia, book about working class, and class in general in UK today. I guess “chav” is a fairly derogatory term for a poor person or working class redneck type person…so derogatory that it would be equivalent to saying nigger in the wrong place in usa, that is you would get your ass kicked if not killed. But also as nigger, it is used as a “funny” term of stereotype by pop culture, and used as an inword
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'd been wanting to read this book since watching an incredulous Jones (along with Drea Say Mitchell) trying to counter David Starkey as the latter embarrassed himself on Newsnight last August. I caught that broadcast live that night and actually have used it with my A level English Language classes to show misperceptions about Black English, Creole in general and Multicultural London English (MLE), also known as Multi-Ethnic Youth Dialect (MYED). However, I managed to get to reading Jones' book ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am not an economist. My knowledge of economics and politics weren't spectacular and pretty mediocre, however reading this superb, excellently written book really was an eye opener. Not only does Owen Jones write eloquently and fluently, he links ideas perfectly in a way almost anyone can understand. His balanced, consistent and thorough use of statistics as well as expanding ideologies and digging into them, unearthing the roots provides brilliant reading as well as inciting attitude change, y ...more
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 ...more
Daniel Lomax
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ruby
"The CEO of Nike turned over 5 billion dollars last year. To earn that much money, a Nike factory worker in China would have to work 7 days a week, 8 hours a day, for 10,000 years. But they don't wanna! Lazy." - Ricky Gervais

Okay, I admit it. I feel class hatred. I didn't know I did, until I moved near a Sainsbury's, and now I walk around the aisles looking at all the frivolous overpriced follies the depressing sterile middle-aged housewives buy to try and invigorate their sexless bloodless fina
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent analysis of the media views of 'benefit scroungers' and the like. The commentary on how private schools, moneyed middle class parents etc offer an unfair advantage for some children definitely struck a chord for me. That was something I saw as I went through a state education and then to a prestigious university where I realised how wide the gaps between the classes were. However, the explanations of what working class/underclass life is like didn't really ring true for me. Maybe it's j ...more
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La lucha de clases la ganan los ricos cuando no nos queremos reconocer como clase trabajadora. La alarma que eleva Owen Jones respecto al Reino Unido es peligrosamente parecida a lo que se podría decir de Chile y la tendencia a que todos se crean de clase media.
Porque los trabajadores son aprovechadores, se reproducen sin control, son peligrosos, son básicamente flaites. Decirse de clase media es la declaración pública que nos alejaría de esa miseria.
Yo amo al Reino Unido, a su magnífico sistema
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit I was expecting to hate this book. When you're dealing with anti-social behaviour and street harassment on a day-to-day basis the last thing you need are bleeding-heart newspaper columns about how "they can't help it because they're poor" - complete with the not-so-flattering subtext that if you're on a low income then somehow you can't help being an obnoxious idiot. I was suspicious that 'Chavs' was going to be a longer version of this narrative, but I was reassured just from reading ...more
Darran Mclaughlin
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book. Owen Jones is probably the most inspiring figure in the British Left today. He absolutely nails the social and political changes that have taken place in this country over the last 35 years that have lead to a massive decline in the living standards, communities and levels of basic respect afforded the working class in the UK. They have been victimised, ignored and mocked for too long and now we're beginning to see the consequences with the rise of UKIP. I read this book in a s ...more
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the only non-fiction book that I've read this year but it really was an eye-opener and essential reading. It deals with the subject of the demonisation of the working class in the UK and how they changed from being the salt of the earth to the scum of the earth.

Owen Jones is breathtakingly clever and astute. This young man is often seen on programmes such as Newsnight and Question Time and no-one who has listened to him could fail to be impressed.

Go Owen, the country needs more people li
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
A regrettably necessary book, Chavs examines the contemporary plight of Britain's formerly self-sufficient working class. The demonization enumerated in this informative book is chilling and concerning, for current disparagement of this demographic has proven to be merely the insult, added to the initial and enduring injury - both financial and spiritual - inflicted by the controversial Thatcher - an injury, no less, unnervingly (dis)honoured by her successors. ...more
Dylan Horrocks
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: class, politics
Stunning. Serious and important: brings together many of the themes and issues of the past 40 years of political and social change to draw some powerful and necessary conclusions. Although focused on the UK, much of it is relevant to New Zealand. Should be compulsory reading for left wing politicians, all journalists and everyone who cares.
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108 likes · 80 comments
“Demonisation is the ideological backbone of an unequal society.” 13 likes
“Being born into a prosperous middle-class family typically endows you with a safety net for life. If you are not naturally very bright, you are still likely to go far and, at the very least, will never experience poverty as an adult. A good education compounded by your parents' 'cultural capital', financial support and networks will always see you through. If you are a bright child born into a working-class family, you do not have any of these things. The odds are that you will not be better off than your parents.” 10 likes
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