- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (6 Jun. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 184467696X
- ISBN-13: 978-1844676965
- Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 0.2 x 2.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 485 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class Paperback – 6 Jun 2011
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The stereotyping and hatred of the working class in Britain, documented so clearly by Owen Jones in this important book, should cause all to flinch. Reflecting our high levels of inequality, the stigmatization of the working class is a serious barrier to social justice and progressive change. --Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, authors of The Spirit Level
It is a timely book. The white working class seems to be the one group in society that it is still acceptable to sneer at, ridicule, even incite hatred against. ... Forensically, over 304 pages, Jones seeks to explain how, thanks to politics, the working class has shifted from being regarded as 'the salt of the earth to the scum of the earth'. --Carol Midgley, Times
Superb and angry. --Polly Toynbee - Guardian
About the Author
OWEN JONES has worked in the British Parliament as a trade union lobbyist and parliamentary researcher. He is currently writing a PhD on the history of blue-collar America and the rise of the New Right. He lives in London.
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Essentially, it is a sociological account that includes empirical analysis, backed up by detailed research into both how the working class is considered by others, and how they themselves are making their way through the world in an increasingly hostile environment towards them.
The book, probably unknowingly, considers Weber's three sociological requiements that are needed for understanding the social world - namely in this work, there is a thorough analysis of class, status and power. Indeed, Owen Jones unpacks these relations and very adequately joins them up.
At the same time, one could argue, the book also examines the interplay between the three critical realist requirements of good sociology - SAC - structure, agency and culture.
He then, quite rightly, in the Marxist tradition, assigns primacy to class relations and indeed utilises the basic Marxist definintion of what constitutes class itself (the selling of labour power, ownership of means of production etc.) throughout the book.
What is really refreshing about this book is that the author describes, analyses and updates how the current work class is situated in the overall social structure in modern neo-liberalist Britain. Unlike some dinosaur left wing writers, Owen Jones does acknowledge that the new working class is now predominantly constituted of shop workers, call centre agents, cleaners, admin staff along with the (declining) production workers population.
What this book does best is putting class relations, firmly back on the political agenda. I agree with his premise that identity politics has often overshadowed the root causes of our current scary predicament - namely the on-going power and wealth of the few, and not the many.
This book explains in great detail how the working class are portrayed as lazy, feckless and violent, which the right-wing media manipulates the "haves" to think all of the working class are chavs.
My favourite chapter is 'The Strange Case of Shannon Matthews'. The disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the daughter of two doctors, had huge media coverage and a prize of millions. Whereas the disappearance of Shannon Matthews, from a working class family in Yorkshire, had barely any coverage until her abduction was known to be fake. Jones discusses how right-wing papers horrifically discriminated against the working class as a whole, based solely on this one case.
Owen Jones demolishes the myth that Britain is a classless society and reinforces how our society remains so deeply divided since the Thatcher era. This book deserves to be widely read.
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