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  • Chavs

  • The Demonization of the Working Class
  • By: Owen Jones
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 11 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2016 Owen Jones (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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  • Tom
  • 23-01-2020

Thought provoking, but lacks substance.

It's obvious that Jones has a passion for this, but it is unfortunately just as obvious that his emotions cloud his judgement. His interpretation of statistics is somewhat wayward, but on the whole he does substantiate some of his claims with data. The problem comes when there is clearly no data on which to rely, and he resorts to anecdotal evidence. In these instances, he doesn't make it clear whether the opinion he is regurgitating is common, representative, or in the minority, but then why would he? That might undermine his argument. Beyond his clear personal bias, though, I think the far larger problem is he's picked the wrong problem. The class divide is far more likely to be between the working class and the useless class in the future, with current incumbents of all social classes contributing to both, rather than the class system to which we are currently accustomed. The solutions mentioned in this book are all either vague, or very short term. Happy to generalise the middle and upper classes to target them all at once, whilst insisting that not all working class people are tarred with the same brush is more than a little ironic, and leads to the conclusion that there is no individual responsibility to be had. I was sure this school of thought had died its death, but apparently not. For the record, I'm working class, from a single parent, low income, benefit dependent family, and I disagree with the overwhelming majority of what's proffered in this diatribe.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Lord Peridot
  • 30-01-2019

Valuable study of modern Britain

Like his book, The Estabishment, this book should be required reading for anyone who want to have a better understanding of modern Britain and the grievous conceit of those who see themselves as being a cut above the rest. Owen Jones has noticed and studied a social phenomena which many other social commentators have ignored. And with his skill as a researcher and writer he has produced a definitive exploration of the subject. And as if that wasn't enough, the reader Leighton Pugh, does a superb job.

There is nothing new about the phenomenon of poor exploited people being despised by their privileged neighbours. Attitudes to slaves, the poor, the less educated and the generally less privileged have often if not always been characterised by wholly unjustified abuse and opprobrium. No doubt the underlying psychology is one of moral justification. If you live a relatively prosperous life you don't want your enjoyment of that life to be marred by feelings of guilt. So the rich unconsciously have a vested interest in despining the poor. Jones makes this point himself.

Very occasionally I thought the author got it slightly wrong, but only slightly and very occasionally. Describing the song I Predict a Riot by the Kaiser Chiefs as being emblematic of middle class indifference strikes me as one such example. Overall this is a very valuable and readable acount of a nasty social phenomenon we should be more aware of. And he writes the book in a way which makes it interesting. Its not a sermon from the Mount.

16 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 09-07-2018

Useful insight, however

This gives a different perspective into the working class in Britain, though it seems at times to be too much an attack on the Tories and sounds like a piece written to convey a political message rather than inform on a particular issue.
The narration is good though possibly slightly more quiet than other titles.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Steve S
  • 08-01-2018

See politics for what it truly is!

A very well written, interesting take on the last 30 years of politics and a lasting legacy of Maggie Thatcher.
Essentially it explains that if you give people jobs and housing, then society will be better for everybody including the elite. Trouble is, the elite want to take everything and therefore we all suffer. Time to rally the troops!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 07-04-2017

A really good listen, and do right in many ways

I had never thought about the class war happening in the UK before but this throws it into sharp relief. A great listen, but does start to feel it is hammering the same point over and over. But it's an important point.

19 people found this helpful

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  • phil
  • 10-07-2020

Repetitive and naive

Repetitive and naive critique of capitalism, the system in which we all live. Thankfully micro economics is moving on, but this book fails to acknowledge and even criticises entrepreneurs like Alan Sugar. Globalisation is ignored.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ross K
  • 22-09-2019

interesting and well researched

Lots of myths exposed. It is clear how the establishment have pitted the poor against each other and blamed them for their own poverty.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ace Ken
  • 02-12-2017

Important subject matter for anyone living in Britain

An interesting perspective on the way the working class are viewed by the wider society, and how this perception came to being. However, wish the narrator didn’t voice the accents of the people quoted in this book, it detracted from the subject at hand and was annoying. This book could have been summarised better as it was repetitive at times. Overall, some great subject matter that needs to be talked about more.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Emiliya Decheva
  • 11-05-2017

The excessive accents actually harm the point

Overall I found it interesting and engaging (down right infuriating when u think of the injustice).
I found a bit of repetitiveness- the main points were reintroduced and no further insight was provided.
Finally, the actor is harming the book and the points it makes. Excessive and unneeded use of northern accents throughout (as examples of working class, while Conservative representatives were presented as talking with no accents at all?!- a thing I found unpleasant

29 people found this helpful

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  • Gregory Monk
  • 26-04-2017

Delighted this is finally on Audible!

What did you like most about Chavs?

A useful retrospective of Britain at the point this book came out (which important forewords to update) covering some things that are still fresh in my memory and others I had forgotten.

What did you like best about this story?

After reading The Establishment when it came out, I especially liked this book as an insight into Jones' earlier work and the evolution of his views.

10 people found this helpful

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