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Chavs The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones


Chavs The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones

In modern Britain, the working class has become an object of fear and ridicule. From Little Britain's Vicky Pollard to the demonization of Jade Goody, media and politicians alike dismiss as feckless, criminalized and ignorant a vast, underprivileged swathe of society whose members have become stereotyped by one, hate-filled word: chavs. In this acclaimed investigation, Owen Jones explores how the working class has gone from 'salt of the earth' to 'scum of the earth.' Exposing the ignorance and prejudice at the heart of the chav caricature, he portrays a far more complex reality. The chav stereotype, he argues, is used by governments as a convenient fig leaf to avoid genuine engagement with social and economic problems and to justify widening inequality. When Chavs was first published in 2011 it opened up the discussion of class in Britain. Then, in the public debate after the riots of that summer, Owen Jones's thesis was proved right - the working class were the scapegoats for everything that was wrong with Britain. This new edition includes a new chapter, reflecting on the overwhelming response to the book and the situation in Britain today.


A passionate and well-documented denunciation of the upper-class contempt for the proles that has recently become so visible in the British class system. Eric Hobsbawm, Guardian A work of passion, sympathy and moral grace. Dwight Garner, New York Times A bold attempt to rewind political orthodoxies; to reintroduce class as a political variable ... It moves in and out of postwar British history with great agility, weaving together complex questions of class, culture and identity with a lightness of touch. Jones torches the political class to great effect. Jon Cruddas, Book of the Week, Independent 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 ... 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, Book of the Week, Times Superb and angry. Polly Toynbee, Guardian Seen in the light of the riots and the worldwide Occupy protests, his lucid analysis of a divided society appears uncannily prescient. Matthew Higgs, Artforum As with all the best polemics, a luminous anger backlights his prose. Economist Chavs is persuasively argued, and packed full of good reporting and useful information

... [Jones] makes an important contribution to a revivified debate about class. Lynsey Hanley, Guardian A lively, well-reasoned and informative counterblast to the notion that Britain is now more or less a classless society. Sean O'Hagan, Observer A trenchant exposure of our new class hatred and what lies behind it. John Carey, author of The Intellectuals and the Masses

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

Eloquent and impassioned. Andrew Neather, Evening Standard Jones's analysis of the condition of the working class is very astute ... A book like this is very much needed for the American scene, where the illusion is similarly perpetuated by the Democrats that the middle-class is all that matters, that everyone can aspire to join the middle-class or is already part of it . Anis Shivani, Huffington Post Everybody knows what a chav is, it seems, but no one is a chav. But then it's a word unlike any other in current usage ... A new book, Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, by first-time author Owen Jones ... has thrown the word into the spotlight all over again. Carole Cadwalladr, Observer

A blinding read. Suzanne Moore, Guardian [A] thought-provoking examination of a relatively new yet widespread derogatory characterization of the working class in Britain ... edifying and disquieting in equal measure. Publishers Weekly A fiery reminder of how the system has failed the poor. Peter Hoskin, Daily Beast Mr. Jones's book is a cleareyed examination of the British class system, and it poses this brutal question: 'How has hatred of working-class people become so socially acceptable?
His timely answers combine wit, left

-wing politics and outrage. Dwight Garner, New York Times

About the Author

Owen Jones was born in Sheffield, grew up in Stockport, and studied history at Oxford. His first book, the international bestseller Chavs, was long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and chosen as one of the New York Times top 10 non-fiction books of 2011. In 2013 he won Young Writer of the Year at the 2013 Political Book Awards. He is a columnist for the Guardian and a frequent broadcaster.

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Book Info

Publication date

29th March 2016


Owen Jones

More books by Owen Jones
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Verso Books


320 pages


Social classes



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