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Thread: chav--explain to a confused expatriate please

  1. #1
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    Default chav--explain to a confused expatriate please

    The last few return visits to the UK, i've felt genuine culture shock for the first time. ASBO's? Most confusing of all, "chav". Trying to track the happy slapping trend on the web to work out if it actually exists or is made-up, i stumbled on an anti-chav site. http://www.chavtowns.co.uk/modules.p...ticle&sid=1580. it was quite disorienting.

    My initial tentative diagnosis (excuse me if this seems obvious, i've been out of the country a long time. Following the disappearance of old style class war in the UK (as mediated by the trade unions--when i were a lad the leaders of the big unions were public figures, so famous that Mike Yarwood would impersonate them -- does anyone know the names of the leaders of any union nowadays? while in london i went past the TUC headquarters, i'd almost forgotten that acronym even existed) and the dominance of bland centrist managerialism, class tensions have resurfaced in an
    Americanized form, i.e. their class nature disavowed, their basis in material inequality etc ignored. Instead the struggle expressed entirely as cultural antagonism. Ie. Chav being similar to America where it's considered OK to make fun of "white trash". In other words the UK has moved so far into post-socialism that the idea of "society is to blame" is long forgotten; the state of these people is regarded as entirely their own fault.

    Except that, judging by this anti-chav site, it's felt that chav values are culturally hegemonic (something that could never be said in the USA of white trash culture).

    So what's it all about then? And what exactly is the etymology of "chav"? And yeah, is happy slapping just an urban/media myth?

  2. #2
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    Chav is just a national version of previous regional words like ned, schemey, scally, charver, etc.

    You know, underclass (usually) white youth with tracksuit, hoodie, and baseball hat. Attitude, bad behavior.

  3. #3
    simon silverdollar Guest

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    i read somewhere that the the origin of the word 'chav' is a romany word, so may be there was a racist undercurrent to the first uses of 'chav' (a little like the way where i come from at least 'pikey' can mean scally as well as gypsie, or traveller).

    but about the cultural hegemony of 'chavism': there might be a point there. certainly in the small provincial towns where i grew up, most of the young people there were what would now be called 'chavs'; wore sports wear, drank loads and started fights, did petty crime and vandalism, went on club 18-30 holidays and fought with foreigners, rode round in Max Powered vauxhall novas. and interestingly this was a very middle class area- so this 'hegemony' of 'chav' culture and attitudes may exist in the sense that it extends way beyond the working class, or even the lower middle class.

    as to whether or not middle class teenagers engaging in the activities listed above is a new phenomenon or not, i don't know.

  4. #4
    simon silverdollar Guest

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    another interesting point is that on grime messageboards all the kids from realy rough areas, like newham and tower hamlets, see 'chavs' as rich kids from essex with no style.


    class issues in britain = ultra complicated.

  5. #5

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    'Chavi' is Romany slang for 'child', it was then applied to kids considered to belong to the 'underclass'. It's just the same as the kids who wore shell suits and had flat top hairdos in the early 90s, but I have to be really honest, girls in pink Von Dutch trucker caps, facial jewellery and burberry bras really do it for me

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    http://www.chavscum.co.uk/

    This is the site that got everyone picking up on the word - note that the original byline was the much more patronising 'A field guide to Britain's burgeoning peasant underclass', [http://web.archive.org/web/200312120...avscum.co.uk/] but they changed it to 'A user's guide to Britain's new ruling class' around the time that people started noticing the site. I think it's a vile word - the accepted origin is from the Romany for child, and I can't help but think that there was a racist slant to it originally, but then maybe I'm being oversensitive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rambler
    http://www.chavscum.co.uk/

    This is the site that got everyone picking up on the word - note that the original byline was the much more patronising 'A field guide to Britain's burgeoning peasant underclass', [http://web.archive.org/web/200312120...avscum.co.uk/] but they changed it to 'A user's guide to Britain's new ruling class' around the time that people started noticing the site. I think it's a vile word - the accepted origin is from the Romany for child, and I can't help but think that there was a racist slant to it originally, but then maybe I'm being oversensitive.
    yep, good old fashioned snobbery. there is a case for asking why so many of the UKs youth are being written off with no education and no opportunities. but its easier for most people just to either fear them or poke fun at them - or maybe a bit of both mixed together.

    when i was growing up in the early nineties a lot of the ravers i knew (including myself really) were what people might term as proto-chavs - riding round in your mums nova with booming 'ardkore issuing forth, the trackys etc. people would do well to remember that the soundtrack for these peoples lives is now being obsessed over by academics, feted by critics and sold for huge amounts on ebay. these people live their lives twice as brightly as everyone else and deserve respect rather than the vile snobbery they get instead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blissblogger
    is happy slapping just an urban/media myth?
    its definitely happening, there have been several reported incidents in the last few days alone. but its hard to tell whether people are picking up on an urban myth that was first reported in the media, and imitating it - or its something thats come from nowhere. i don't know if you've picked up on the other stories related to this, but big shopping centres like bluewater in kent have banned the wearing of hoodies and baseball caps - the traditional "chav" uniform, under the pretext that if someones wearing a hood, the cctv cameras won't catch them.

    theres a distinct whiff of moral panic about the whole business, if you ask me. the uk doesn't really know how to deal with children and youth - attacking these clothes without dealing with the underlying social problems of kids not having anything to do seems a bit pointless, really.

  9. #9
    simon silverdollar Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by bassnation

    theres a distinct whiff of moral panic about the whole business, if you ask me. the uk doesn't really know how to deal with children and youth - attacking these clothes without dealing with the underlying social problems of kids not having anything to do seems a bit pointless, really.
    it's crazy isn't it; have you seen the daily express's 'Crusade' against 'hooded yobs'?
    for fucks sake...

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    Quote Originally Posted by simon silverdollar
    another interesting point is that on grime messageboards all the kids from realy rough areas, like newham and tower hamlets, see 'chavs' as rich kids from essex with no style.


    class issues in britain = ultra complicated.
    there does seem to be some confusion about the word 'chav' - it seems to veer from a sneering attitude to the tasts of the noveau riche, to a kick-them-while-they're-down brushing off of job-less 'benefit scoungers' (the underclass) - daytime tv has alot to answer for creating a culture for a desensitised voyeur-of-the-poor.

    I think it often depends on who is doing the name calling - I think the class system isn't massively different from before, it just has alot more strata's and it's quite common for people to have the most disdain for the strata below them

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    I really dislike the word Chav. I was discussing this with a really anti-chav person, in fact someone who is an evangelical glam-style advocate, for whom the wearing of sportswear = some sort of peasantry. he argued blandness and conformity = some sort of cultural entropy. Now in many cases this is no doubt true (of course the homogenisating effects of suits = another sort of cultural entropy), but surely one can be "an individual" without having to devise some sort of utterly unique dress code (as he does- more or less succesfully, as it goes).

    What I've tried to do with this guy, and I haven't quite managed it yet, is make a case for the wearing of sportswear as being a "positive identity". But i think one can be made. The hoody issue links into this in an interesting way- kids in hoods are being victimised, but if you were a young kid wearing, say, just a school uniform walking through hackney, you're much more likely to be picked upon than someone in a hood and a baseball cap. Sure, a hood means you can hide your face if you're mugging someone, but it also means you can hide your face from a mugger trying to catch your eye.....

    By the way Blissblogger, agree only partly with what you're saying about trade union leaders. I think Bob Crow of the tube union is quite well known. On the other hand, he has a real notoriety for calling strikes that makes him something of a hate figure, as if arguing your corner for more pay or better conditions is somehow a bad thing, which more or less confirms your analysis that everyone in the uk accepts late-capitalism with it's bland, controlling managers who know what's best for the workers.
    Last edited by Diggedy Derek; 19-05-2005 at 11:20 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearsall
    Chav is just a national version of previous regional words like ned, schemey, scally, charver, etc.

    You know, underclass (usually) white youth with tracksuit, hoodie, and baseball hat. Attitude, bad behavior.
    I think the reference that you make to the terms “schemey” and “ned” are slightly misleading to the “chav” terminology, as both actually have a serious origin. Ned is an acronym for “non educated delinquent”, and I think takes its routes from actual police and court definitions. Obviously, this has muddied over times, but the actual definition is very clearly defined. “Schemey” is similarly clear – someone from the housing schemes. Obviously, a post war term, referring to the areas of high rises in Easterhouse or Niddrie. Obviously, over time these definitions have become more colloquial, and are used loosely to refer to certain social groups.

    Chav seems to be used as the new popular way to refer to the same group – essentially Burberry hats, Elizabeth duke gold earrings, Rockport, tracksuits – even those who are seen as being dressed in designer clothes that someone sees they shouldn’t be able to afford / wear…. The term’s use is becoming chaotic, and frankly I don’t actually like the sound of the word, which I think makes me interpret it as even more derogatory. It has a real sneering quality to it like most (good) swear words.

    As for the Unions – no, noone really knows the names of the leaders, other than maybe the only real socialist commitments (Fire Brigade from strikes a few years ago, Teaching Unions). I think much of this comes not from a lack in socialism, but more the fact that in twenty years the UK has moved from a manufacturing economy sourcing its own raw materials, to a service economy. I would expect that you will see some Unionisation of call centres if the people get their act together, but on a standard basis they hold little sway and have little need (at least from what I can see). The Union negotiate my pay rise every year, and every year I get a letter saying how they went in asking for inflation plus three percent, and walked out with inflation plus about 50bps. The fact is that everyone knew it would be the latter even if they hadn’t turned up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diggedy Derek

    What I've tried to do with this guy, and I haven't quite managed it yet, is make a case for the wearing of sportswear as being a "positive identity". But i think one can be made.
    Definitely. Chavs (and I feel uneasy using that term, it's casually slung about but it covers a wide spectrum of age, race and class) often take a great deal of care in their appearance. They fetishise clothing in the same way as the mods did in the sixties (remember reading a description of Shaun Ryder as a post-modern mod). Your friend and his demand for individuality is making strong demands on what is often most visibly a young demographic. Youth are only at the start of establishing identity and expressing it through their choice of clothing, often - along with music - the first autonomous choices they make. They are bound to look to their peers and therefore be a bit faddish.

    Is there a term for the gloomy looking children in ridiculously wide bottomed trousers and home-died hair? They look like descendents of goths, but you couldn't really call them that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diggedy Derek
    The hoody issue links into this in an interesting way- kids in hoods are being victimised, but if you were a young kid wearing, say, just a school uniform walking through hackney, you're much more likely to be picked upon than someone in a hood and a baseball cap. Sure, a hood means you can hide your face if you're mugging someone, but it also means you can hide your face from a mugger trying to catch your eye.....
    ...or the mugger takes you for a rude boy and gives you a steer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diggedy Derek
    By the way Blissblogger, agree only partly with what you're saying about trade union leaders. I think Bob Crow of the tube union is quite well known. On the other hand, he has a real notoriety for calling strikes that makes him something of a hate figure, as if arguing your corner for more pay or better conditions is somehow a bad thing
    I think Bob Crow is unpopular because he threatens strike action very readily and for what may appear to the general public as spurious reasons. He is clearly popular with his members though. I just wish he'd ditch that awful flat cap he wears.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3underscore
    I think the reference that you make to the terms “schemey” and “ned” are slightly misleading to the “chav” terminology, as both actually have a serious origin. Ned is an acronym for “non educated delinquent”, and I think takes its routes from actual police and court definitions. Obviously, this has muddied over times, but the actual definition is very clearly defined.
    This is a fallacy. The word came first, then over time the acronym thing was tacked on. "Ned" is just a made up scottish word like "nyaff" or "numpty". As far as I can see, it is the Scotish equivalent of "Chav". Pearsall was spot on with his comment.

    As for "Chav", to me it is simply a word. It's not a word I use as it is English slang, and it's just a rubbish word. There's far better slang I could be using.

    I think some people are a bit too hysterical about offending the "underclasses" with this word. Most "chavs" aren''t even working class, and they're so oblivious that they probably wouldn't even consider themselves chavs.



    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Watson
    Is there a term for the gloomy looking children in ridiculously wide bottomed trousers and home-died hair? They look like descendents of goths, but you couldn't really call them that.
    Up here they're most commonly referred to as "Grungers" or "Moshers". "Grunger" is quite confusing though, as I don't think these kids are actually into grunge (apart from Nirvana). Usually it's nirvana, korn or slipknot hoodies you see them in.
    Last edited by boy better know; 19-05-2005 at 03:19 PM.

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    aye, grungies or garage innit?

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