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Chav - Is It An Offensive Term?


David

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Having just finished reading the book "Chavs - The Demonization Of The Working Class" by Guardian writer Owen Jones, I thought I'd post the question on this forum. Is this term offensive? Or is it rightly attributed to a section of the so-called working class?

 

Is it a humorous dig at those who are fond of cheap sportswear and fake jewellery? Or is there something more, as the author of the book suggests?

 

For anyone interested in the book, here's a review, which also addresses the topic question a little as well;

 

Owen Jones's indignant, well-argued debut begins with a joke: "It's sad that Woolworth's is closing. Where will all the chavs buy their Christmas presents?" This was uttered by the host of a dinner party attended by the author in "a gentrified part of east London", at which liberal views are taken as a given and, though everyone present has a professional job, not everyone is white, male or straight.

 

Jones, who is in his late 20s and has worked both as a trade-union lobbyist and as a parliamentary researcher for a Labour MP, doesn't say how he reacted to this mindless put-down at the time. Did he refuse to eat the blackcurrant cheesecake that was being "carefully sliced" as his host sought to fill an awkward silence? Did he storm out and call time on their friendship? Whatever he did on the night, its casual malice led him, indirectly, to write this book, which argues that class hatred is the last acceptable prejudice.

 

Chavs is persuasively argued, and packed full of good reporting and useful information. Jones singles out for opprobrium middle-class contempt towards working-class people, those regarded by rightwing commentators such as Simon Heffer as the "feral underclass". In this caricature, peddled by spittle-flecked websites such as chavscum.co.uk and tacitly endorsed by the mass media, "chav" means "underclass", which means working-class people who don't keep their noses clean or behave impeccably. The word's etymology is contested: some accounts associate its origin with chavi, a Romany word for "child" or "youth", which developed into "charva"

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David, you may be interested to know that Mrs Houchen attended a lecture by Owen Jones a few months ago. She thought it was excellent. And yes, I find the term offensive, not being labelled one but the whole thing is the latest in a long line of convenient tags used by both the media and the people it demonises.

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David, you may be interested to know that Mrs Houchen attended a lecture by Owen Jones a few months ago. She thought it was excellent. And yes, I find the term offensive, not being labelled one but the whole thing is the latest in a long line of convenient tags used by both the media and the people it demonises.

Cool, I'm assuming it wasn't a book tour or anything? Didn't hear about it up here in Glasgow.

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David, you may be interested to know that Mrs Houchen attended a lecture by Owen Jones a few months ago. She thought it was excellent. And yes, I find the term offensive, not being labelled one but the whole thing is the latest in a long line of convenient tags used by both the media and the people it demonises.

Cool, I'm assuming it wasn't a book tour or anything? Didn't hear about it up here in Glasgow.

No, it was a one off thing for a think tank based in the North, Newcastle to be exact. His book had been out for about a year at the time. It was in a Cafe thus was only attended by about 30 people.

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To be honest I find the people who go on about and demonise 'Chav culture' and the people who appear in Jeremy Kyle and the like far more abhorrent than the people they take a pop at truth be told. Elitist fucking arseholes.

 

I suppose a lot of it comes to tribalism and needing to be part of a social peer group in order for security in themselves as well. 'Goths' hate 'Chavs' who hate 'Emos' who hate '*OTHER SOCIAL PEER GROUP*' and I find the whole thing quite sad, if I'm totally honest. It's like a shit version of moaning gang warfare, where instead of knifes we have verbal barbs running down a social peer group as if all within are one entity. It's a load of bollocks.

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To be honest I find the people who go on about and demonise 'Chav culture' and the people who appear in Jeremy Kyle and the like far more abhorrent than the people they take a pop at truth be told. Elitist fucking arseholes.

 

I suppose a lot of it comes to tribalism and needing to be part of a social peer group in order for security in themselves as well. 'Goths' hate 'Chavs' who hate 'Emos' who hate '*OTHER SOCIAL PEER GROUP*' and I find the whole thing quite sad, if I'm totally honest. It's like a shit version of moaning gang warfare, where instead of knifes we have verbal barbs running down a social peer group as if all within are one entity. It's a load of bollocks.

 

I think this is probably my favourite post you've ever made. Spot on.

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I don't really agree with the premise that chav is a working class phenomenon, and I think to suggest it is is, in and of itself, kinda prejudiced against the working class.

Plenty of middle class kids go out in tracksuits, stand on street corners getting pissed and squeeze at babies at the age of 14 and 3 quarters. And plenty of working class kids behave and dress in a manner that could in no way be described as chav.

So yeah, taking the piss out of someone for being a chav just means taking the piss out of someone for being a chav, it's not about mocking the working class.

 

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I don't really agree with the premise that chav is a working class phenomenon, and I think to suggest it is is, in and of itself, kinda prejudiced against the working class.

 

That's pretty much what I was going to say. "Chav" is an attitude or actions rather than a class. It's quite possible to be a middle-class chav.

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IMO a lot of it is down to a slight shift in the roots of the class system in England, with the chav label being given mainly but not always as an insult. A sneering tone often made by Hyacinthe Bucket-like social climbers and their next generation offspring I tend to find. It wouldn't be so bad if it referred to a sub culture where a group has similar interests in music, fashion etc. like hipsters but plenty of people are wrongly given the chav label when their only crime is that they don't see the point in "aspiring" to be middle-class at all costs.

Some middle-class children do fall into the perceived chav image but they are often the exception, looking perhaps for some sort of excitement.

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