Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book review of Owen Jones Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

Whilst on holiday in Cornwall with shingles I bought Owen Jones Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. Most of you may know him from his 'argument' on newsnight with David Starkey.
Well. I really liked the book. Owen Jones (who looks amazingly young to have written the book) has researched the book.
The book looks at how the creation of a chavs is really a way of having a pop at the working class. How we escapegoat them and laugh at them. Even though in many ways we are still working class.
Owen obviously looks the impact of de-industrialisation by the Thatcher Government in the 1980's. How the downturn in union power after the coal miners strike has meant that working class people have lost their sense of identity. Owen points out how even new labour said we can all be middle class. Owen looks how politically, culturally and socially we blame these peope. There scroungers (but as he points out they exploit £1billion per year whilst white collar crime accounts for £70billion but little said about this).
Owen points out how advantageous the middle classes are at an advantage with such things as cultural capital from there parents in helping them with housing, university and getting jobs.
Culturally, he looked at the chav film of Eden Lake inwhich all the chav stereotypes come to the fore (dogs, knives, parents with cheap hot tubs). All the fear of the middle classes are there. But there is a whole plethora of the films. F, where a middle class teacher starts killing hoodied (and faceless) students who are knocking off his teachers and family. Also The Descent in which a middle class group of women are picked off by some blind, blood suckers in a cave (the under class). The middle class are trying to escape there consequences in the cave. The under class want to remain in there squalor. Just like the chavs then?
The thing I did not like is Owen talks about the book though is he talks about the 'homogenous' working class. But he only discuss the urban and industrial working class. I was on holiday and went to cornwalll and devon, In my home town in Devon of great torrington two pubs had closed. 4 factories had gone. Its bloody sad. In cornwall I went to Fowey and saw little evidence of any cornish people. Holiday homes and TV stars were there. The fishing village is no longer there (unlike the one in the detestable Doc Martin, with its contrived view of the area). The decline of fishing, farming, tin and clay is hardly mentioned).
Owen Jones blog is here. I recommend the book. Also, i'm a socialist, so if anyone feels I am unfair to the Tories. Tough luck as they would say.

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