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Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class…
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Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class (2011 original; edició 2011)

de Owen Jones (Autor)

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Membre:GawainTowler
Títol:Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
Autors:Owen Jones (Autor)
Informació:Verso (2011), Edition: 1, 304 pages
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Etiquetes:#politics

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Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class de Owen Jones (2011)

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Thatcherism is bad, the Working Class have no opportunity to get into modern politics or media and the sneering culture of the middle and ruling classes is objectionable. The book in a nutshell there. ( )
  arewenotben | Jul 31, 2020 |
Jones documents how successive British governments, from Thatcher onwards, have pursued policies that had serious negative effects on the working class, by accelerating the shift away from manufacturing industry, enacting repressive measures against trade unions, cutting welfare benefits and support for public services (especially education), shifting from income tax to VAT, selling off most of the (council-owned) social housing stock, and so on. These policies have often been sold to the electorate on the back of patently untrue assertions that "we're all middle-class now" and accompanied by equally misleading propaganda about "welfare scroungers", "workshy single parents" and so on, echoing a negative stereotype of feckless working-class people as "chavs" propagated by right-wing newspapers, TV game-shows, and the rest.

In reality, of course, there is still a large section of British society that thinks of itself as "working-class". Since the annihilation of manufacturing, most of them work in retail, catering, call-centres, construction, agriculture and the like, often in jobs that are less fulfilling, less secure, and far less well-paid than the jobs their parents had in factories and mines. Those who are unemployed, Jones urges, are unemployed not because they are feckless and idle, but because there is a structural shortage of jobs, especially in former industrial towns. And most of them feel let down by the political establishment, which has less and less contact with them and their concerns. Even the Labour Party has few MPs with working-class roots these days, a result of the professionalisation of politics and the "unpaid intern" system, which effectively closes off political careers to those whose parents can't support them in unpaid jobs (in London!) whilst they gain experience. And the same goes for journalism and the law.

Jones also argues that social mobility in general is far less significant than it used to be (other people dispute this, and it's not easy to find an agreed definition of social mobility anyway). The education system is "rigged" by the middle classes to make sure their own kids have access to good schools and university places, leaving the schools most working-class kids attend marginalised; the cost of university education has become so high that few young people from working-class backgrounds can see the benefit of saddling themselves with student loans they won't necessarily ever be able to pay off.

All this demonization and exclusion of working-class people has created a political vacuum that right-wing nationalist parties have moved into. From the interviews and canvassing he's done in working-class neighbourhoods, Jones concludes that the people who vote for the likes of UKIP and the BNP usually don't support the explicitly racist parts of their platforms, but they do respond to the way those parties seem to be listening to their concerns, unlike Labour and the Conservatives. Worries about immigration (competition for housing and services, possible undercutting of pay rates) don't necessarily equate to racism, and Jones argues that the notion of an "embittered white working class" is both false and counter-productive: working-class districts (and working-class families) tend to be more mixed ethnically than elsewhere, and it's often second-generation immigrants who are most worried about the effect of newcomers.

It all sounds pretty convincing, even if it is quite at odds with my experience of British society. I grew up in an environment where the line between "working-class" and "middle-class" was fluid and hard to pin down, and where no-one would have dreamed of mocking the class, or the type of work, that most of their neighbours and relatives were associated with. Or of voting for anyone, under any circumstances, who didn't have "Labour" after their name on the polling card. Even at university, I don't remember anyone expressing disrespect for working-class people, and most people I knew were at most a couple of generations away from miners and factory workers. Except the drunken public-school prats we all laughed at, who are now running the country. But I moved away from the UK about the time Jones must have started primary school, so I've probably missed a lot. ( )
2 vota thorold | Jan 22, 2020 |
I only read this to chapter 4 but what I did read was enough for me. It is of its time all Thatcher ( spits) and Blair ( beyond derision) Post Brexit it is clear that the working-classes are still despised by the media and the so called middle classes and elite in the UK. Watching Question Time boils my piss every time - woking class is always prefixed by ' the ordinary' - and what exactly is ordinary about a class of people that literally built Britain? SO just to bite back I call the others The Midlings - a dull and uninspiring homogenised lump of busy bodies busy being busy and agonising over the trivia of life - right back atcha! ( )
  MarianneHusbands | Feb 6, 2017 |
Well researched and aligned with my own political views, but 100 pages in I felt defeated. Yes, the working class is demonised. So what do we do about it? I couldn't struggle through the last half of the book to find out whether the author had any proposed course of action. ( )
  jennpb | Apr 13, 2016 |
A polemic that wears its leftwing politics unashamedly (and largely legitimately) on its sleeve. This is a solid review of the excesses of Thatcherism, how gravely it damaged working-class culture in the 1980s, and its upshot in Britain today - where a working-class rump has gone from being viewed as 'salt of the earth' to 'scum of the earth'. Some discussion of globalisation would have been useful (after all, Thatcher's economic policies and smashing of the trade unions didn't take place in a national vacuum), but overall this is a fairly convincing read. ( )
1 vota Panopticon2 | Oct 5, 2014 |
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