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Thread: chav--explain to a confused expatriate please

  1. #106
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    I'm not reading back through all that. I just want to reiterate that, in the time and place I grew up, townies were called townies before they were called chavs. We thought they listened to shit music and had shit hair and clothes, and they thought the same thing about us, because that's what teenagers are like. The difference is, they were the ones who'd yell abuse at, and perhaps try and beat up, anyone who was different from them. Yes they were mostly working class, but this is a red herring, because most of everyone was working class, including many of the kids they picked on. And as others have noted, kids with much the same attitude sometimes came from quite comfortable families.

    I have no real interest in what "the media" may or may not have said about "chavs", because the opinions of upper-middle-class journalists who live in lovely big old houses in leafy parts of inner London - be they clueless reactionaries who think of working class people simply as grubby ignorant plebs, or clueless liberals who romanticize them as the noble, honest salt-of-the-earth (but who in either case doesn't interact socially with anyone outside their own class from one year to the next) - are completely irrelevant from the lived experience of 95% of people.
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  2. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    Posh middle class people live in attractive Victorian houses on pleasant, clean streets where antisocial behaviour is not a common problem. They may be the sort who read Katie Hopkins books and who think "All working class people are 'chavs" (i.e. unemployed hooligans), or they may be the sort who read Owen Jones books and think "'Chav' is just a nasty snobbish term for working-class people" (i.e. the stance you and others here are taking). In either case, working-class people are reduced to an Other, an undifferentiated mass with a character determined entirely by their socioeconomic status.

    The glaring irony here is that the people who are actually affected by the ASB, low-level crime and general aggro from those who, for the purposes of this thread, may be called 'chavs', are themselves mostly working class. They live on the estates and streets where this goes on because they can't afford to live anywhere else. I left London a few years but I've spent many years living in areas just like that, and I know many people who still do. Your assumption that you're in a position to lecture me about 'privilege' and being 'out of touch', when I'm talking from personal lived experience and not something I've read in the Guardian and taken for gospel truth, is fucking hilarious. "Bro."
    In fact middle class people, in London at least, increasingly do live on council (or former council) estates.

    Did you live on an estate in London, Tea? You probably remember that I did for ten years, because you came to my flat. You may or may not remember that a group I was involved in regularly knocked on every door on every estate in one of the wards in south Hackney in noughties. One of the things that came up at my estate TRA and through door knocking was anti-social behaviour. (The word "chav" didn't funnily enough, but I suspect that was down to good manners rather than anything else).

    In both instances I was involved with campaigns to resolve anti-social behaviour, which were mildly successful. No doubt with your huge range of experience on this issue you can "lecture" us all on the strategies you have developed in this area.

    In fact Marx was already bang on this with all his stuff about the lumpenproletariat. I.e. a subsection of the working class which is anti-social and unproductive. So it's not the case that the working class is seen (here at least) as undifferentiated.

    But anyway I have made the point upthread that chavs are a subsection of the working class, which is Owen Jones' position too. The further away you are from working class communities, the less likely you are to see the tensions within them and the more likely you are to stereotype. Which is where your precis of Katie Hopkins' position comes in. When posh cunts dress up as chavs for their fancy dress parties they essentially are taking the piss out of what they see as thick poor people who live on estates, no? Who all wear garish clothes and cheap jewelry and are on benefits and have six kids.

    So the word "chav" can mean different things to different people, depending on how close to the phenomena they are.

    Obviously when I lived on an estate I was better off than many other people who lived there. That didn't stop parents at my daughter's school making snarky comments about where I lived though, or being reluctant to come round. Did they think we were chavs? Possibly not. Were we being stereotyped based on where we lived? Yes we were. Were we being lumped in with lumpen types? Probably by some people yes.
    Last edited by john eden; 15-08-2017 at 01:51 PM.

  3. #108
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    @baboon

    didnt know chav had history tbh, that slothrop quote you brought is right in breaking down chav to it's core essence which is basically thuggery, thing is people don't tend to go into that much detail when you using chav they just throw it out there and it hits people who you could say aren't it's "true" target audience,

    @ mr tea

    this stuff about 95% of the media being irrelevant or having no impact is bullshit but anyway

    http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/br...omments-anchor

    have a look at the comments, turns out i was wrong about 'chav' being out of fashion, i wonder if these people are using the word as shorthand for "shit music, shit hair and clothes," an "aggressive and unpleasant people who used ignorance as a badge of honour" or poor white criminal youth from council housing

    "So no, 'chav' is not synonymous either with 'poor' or with 'working class' in the minds of any significant number of people."

    i was half joking when i said you were out of touch but your refusal to accept what chav meant in the wider scheme of things, along with that tripe about knowing people who know what their talking about does mark you out as kinda suspect

    anyway im definitely in a position to lecture u so consider it done

    /

    what do u guys think those comments would've been like if he was of african/carribean descent
    snmbsm
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  4. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by trilliam View Post
    @baboon

    didnt know chav had history tbh, that slothrop quote you brought is right in breaking down chav to it's core essence which is basically thuggery, thing is people don't tend to go into that much detail when you using chav they just throw it out there and it hits people who you could say aren't it's "true" target audience,
    that's true, the word has become an all-purpose insult to throw at working class people deemed to be 'uncouth'.

    a lot of middle class energy has always gone into denigrating the poor (usually assuming that everyone in earshot agrees with their attitudes). and especially since racism, homophobia etc have become more cloaked and disguised, then the catch-all term of 'chav' was manna from heaven for people eager to prove their status in society and luagh at the supposed lack of 'sophistication' of others ('pikey', its forbear in the places where I lived, always having been too close for comfort to anti-Romany racism to be used by a certain kind of m/c person).

    but of course there are still a million ways to disguise denigration based on class as well. the attitudes seem to get worse/more unreconstructed, the more that the people concerned feel they are model citizens in other ways
    Last edited by baboon2004; 16-08-2017 at 11:44 AM.

  5. #110
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    So all micro-analysis aside, is "Chav" then structurally the same (or something very similar) to what is being referred to as "White Trash" in the USA?

  6. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefinga View Post
    So all micro-analysis aside
    wrong forum

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  8. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefinga View Post
    So all micro-analysis aside, is "Chav" then structurally the same (or something very similar) to what is being referred to as "White Trash" in the USA?
    I think so, yes.

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  10. #113
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    John - yes, I remember when I came to your flat, and I'm well aware you don't live in a Georgian mansion in the Cotswolds, which is part of the reason I'm having trouble understanding your position here. To answer your question, yeah I did live on an estate for a while some time ago. It was kind of noisy at times but an OK place to live for the most part. I make no claim to have grown up in the ghetto but I have lived in some fairly grotty places where shitty behaviour was pretty common and where much more serious shit occasionally went down too, which is why I have to laugh at trilliam's predictable kneejerk accusation of 'privilege', because the position I'm taking here has come from personal experience I'd never have had if I'd spent my whole life in Belgravia or some twee chocolate-box village. And it was perfectly obvious that this behaviour came only from a minority of people in these uniformly low-income areas, which is why the idea that 'chav' just means 'poor' rings so false for me. Which I see even you've revised in the last couple of pages, John.

    Rich people playing at being 'chavs' is gross and only one step removed from vileness like 'colonials & natives' parties, but most people aren't rich. So while this attitude certainly exists, I think it's a lot less widespread than several of you are making out.
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  11. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    I make no claim to have grown up in the ghetto but I have lived in some fairly grotty places where shitty behaviour was pretty common and where much more serious shit occasionally went down too, which is why I have to laugh at trilliam's predictable kneejerk accusation of 'privilege', because the position I'm taking here has come from personal experience I'd never have had if I'd spent my whole life in Belgravia or some twee chocolate-box village. And it was perfectly obvious that this behaviour came only from a minority of people in these uniformly low-income areas, which is why the idea that 'chav' just means 'poor' rings so false for me.
    But you are privileged, as am I -neither of us would ever be called a 'chav', because we present as middle class with all the privilege that that entails. What you're saying here is not about privilege, but just that where you've lived has given you a certain amount of observational experience - two completely different things.

    No-one (so far as I've read) has been saying that 'chav' is equivalent to 'poor', rather that you would only be called a 'chav' if you were deemed to be working class - people who present as middle class simply aren't called 'chavs' (since the emergence of 'Chav' Mark II in 2002-2004 anyways - what happened before is lost in the mists of time, even though I admit I've spent some time discussing it). It's about potentiality as much as what actually happens. People of a particular socioeconomic status/perceived status (accent etc always comes into play) are at any moment vulnerable to being derided/dismissed as a 'chav' by a middle class person who wants to exert social power, if they act in any number of ways deemed inappropriate. Like other stigmatising words, 'chav' is infinitely malleable to the whims of social power, which is precisely why it's difficult to say exactly what it means. (and also precisely why it's such a useful 'divide and conquer' tool vis-a-vis working class people en masse - deserving and undeserving poor, cultured and uncultured poor, law-abiding and violent poor, hard-working-salt-of-the-earth and feckless-benefit-cheating poor, ad infinitum).

    [To my mind, this mechanism is the way that racism (and misogyny, homophobia) also works - power and the constant potentiality to exploit it/be exploited by it. And why the talk of someone being a 'racist' or 'not a racist' is to me overly simplistic outside of extreme cases like actual Nazis - more to the point is that at any given moment, any white person can choose to use or not use hundreds of advantages conferred to them by their designated skin colour. Which is why the solidarity of someone who doesn't face discrimination with someone who does, is such a complex and constantly shifting thing, so often subject to comprehensible accusations of betrayal].
    Last edited by baboon2004; 16-08-2017 at 08:46 PM.

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  13. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    John - yes, I remember when I came to your flat, and I'm well aware you don't live in a Georgian mansion in the Cotswolds, which is part of the reason I'm having trouble understanding your position here. To answer your question, yeah I did live on an estate for a while some time ago. It was kind of noisy at times but an OK place to live for the most part. I make no claim to have grown up in the ghetto but I have lived in some fairly grotty places where shitty behaviour was pretty common and where much more serious shit occasionally went down too, which is why I have to laugh at trilliam's predictable kneejerk accusation of 'privilege', because the position I'm taking here has come from personal experience I'd never have had if I'd spent my whole life in Belgravia or some twee chocolate-box village. And it was perfectly obvious that this behaviour came only from a minority of people in these uniformly low-income areas, which is why the idea that 'chav' just means 'poor' rings so false for me. Which I see even you've revised in the last couple of pages, John.

    Rich people playing at being 'chavs' is gross and only one step removed from vileness like 'colonials & natives' parties, but most people aren't rich. So while this attitude certainly exists, I think it's a lot less widespread than several of you are making out.
    Well I'm not sure why you've had a problem understanding my position but I hope you will see that I've gone to reasonable lengths to try and flesh it out.

    It seems that you have reigned in your initial enthusiasm for chavs owning sports cars and the word being more to do with behaviour rather than the behaviour/style/lifestyle of people of a particular class/income.

    I have little idea about how widespread mocking chavs is amongst the ultra rich but I have had to tear into a public school boy in the workplace for trying to engage in "banter" about it and have also suffered some painful conversation with former oxbridge types of a more cerebral nature about this sort of thing. So it certainly exists and I don't think there is anything to indicate that I have happened to meet the most extremely bigoted upper class people, so presumably there is a lot more out there than that (especially when you factor in the general climate of demonising benefit claimants and people who live in council flats).

  14. #116
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    Yeah yeah, I get it, I come across as a fairly standard-issue lower-middle-class person. My point about privilege is that I'm not part of the stratum of actually posh people for whom the working class as a whole might as well be a different species. If John's experiences are anything to go by then the sort of unpleasant attitudes several of you have described here must be pretty widespread among people of that class - at the same time, most people are not 'posh', by definition.
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