What’s going on here?

On “chavs”…  Here’s a clip from a BBC documentary on chavs.  It’s interesting in a number of respects.  First, it provides more background on this stigmatized social category and how it’s constructed.  Writer Julie Burchill, who hosts the program, sees chavs as the latest object of middle-class derision — but thinks that the sneering reveals more about their detractors than the chavs. The clip also features an interview with the English rapper, Lady Sovereign, herself a target of “chav-bashing.”  Throughout her career, in fact, she’s been condemned for all kinds of “failings”: “You’re white. You’re a girl. You’re British. You’re crap.” This was the gist of the commentary when her earliest tracks, and photos, appeared on music websites.   Obviously, it’s not easy overturning stereotypes, to identify as an MC when MCs are expected to be black, male, and American.

Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, has his own theory about what’s going on:

The word “chav” has become a way to stereotype a vast underprivileged section of our society.  It’s a term that has become synonymous with the white working class, a way of rationalizing inequality.  After all, if the working class is full of spendthrift layabouts who lack aspiration, then social programs aimed at poverty reduction become a waste of time and money.

More recently, Jones has argued that “chavs” served as “scapegoats” for the UK riots.  In this “Thinking Allowed” podcast from the BBC, Jones joins sociologist, Imogen Tyler, to discuss the prejudice and status anxieties driving all this contempt (start at 13:45).

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6 responses to “What’s going on here?

  1. After watching this video I can see how stereo-types may have played some sort of significant role, yet watching this movie made me think of how “chaving” is extremely similar to the fads we have here in America known as trolling and the creation of memes to just about everything and everyone. To me personally I feel that “chav-bashing” is mere sarcasm and maybe is exactly what we need in the world we life in today to become less serious and to move away from stereo-types and be able to see the comedy in each other.

  2. This video shows how stereo-types do exist, but towards the end it brings in how stereo-types can be related to the place in which you live. Coming from a town that is seen as rich you are expected to have money and act a certain way, and coming from a town or area that is seen as poor you are expected to not have much money or be wearing designer clothes.
    Stereo-types should not exist in our world today because it is so diverse and it has come to a point where you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Being from a town that is seen as poor might not necessarily mean that person is poor, maybe they inherited that house from a relative who wasn’t so well off, but they are now doing better for them self and just decided to still live there.

  3. ciarasullivan25

    I think its sad that people will always find a way to criticize others. I agree with the above comment that stereo-types should not exist, but unfortunately I don’t really see that changing anytime soon. I also don’t feel that “chav-bashing” is mere sarcasm; the man in the video related Lady Sovereign to the devil. From my understanding of these websites, they can just be used as another outlet to cyber-bully, and we’ve all seen the disastrous impact that can have.

  4. This video clip was very eye-opening in the way that it portrays the ignorance of many people when it comes to their view of someone other than themselves. Even within the context of a diverse and international world, many people find themselves being labeled and judged indecently. It’s one thing to have these feelings to yourself, but when it becomes a outward expression of hatred and harassment it is way out of line.

  5. I find it interesting to see some of the cultural stereotypes that exist in countries other then the United States, especially England. Is there a U.S “group” that is similar to the chavs?

  6. To use a slur to describe a certain group of people such as chav even in a joking manner is wrong because it normalizes the derogatory term and makes the discrimination acceptable. For example when I was a kid it was a common phrase to describe one’s dislike to a thing or scenario as “that’s gay.” What this does especially towards children is to associate words like chav or gay with a negative connotation and as these children grow older that negativity associated with those terms can turn into hatred.

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