Sunday, 26 June 2011

Re chavs

There's a new book out in defence of chavs. It argues that the working class have simultaneously been beaten up by the forces of neoliberal capitalism, and vilified by class snobbery. Sounds interesting.

Not all the aspersions on chav behaviour and lifestyle are cast by toffs in Kensington drawing rooms. A lot of the venom comes from the people who have to live with those behaviours – i.e. other working class and/or not very rich people. Chav is not a synonym for poor. It can mean any or all of poor, badly dressed, badly behaved, drunk, criminal.... Being rude about these latter kinds of behaviour is not wrong. People do it out of resentment, and also because they are trying to establish and maintain, by contrast, norms of good, decent and respectable behaviour. What is bad and unfair, is tarring entire social classes with this brush.

Vice versa, is the media's attitude to chavdom one of unmixed contempt? Maybe there's some sneaking admiration in there as well, in shows like Shameless or The Only Way is Essex. (This is only an impression. I don't actually watch any shows like that, you understand, I just hear about them.)