Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Why is the term "chav" so controversial in the UK?

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » General Discussion Donate to DU
 
pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 05:18 AM
Original message
Why is the term "chav" so controversial in the UK?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13626046

For some it has been a satisfying label to pin on Burberry check-wearing louts. But for others, it's a nasty, coded attack on the working class. And for some commentators the word chav is now at the heart of Britain's obsession with class.

There are plenty of people for whom the word is harmless. Daily Telegraph blogger James Delingpole argues it's a harmless updating of "oik".

But more left-leaning commentators have seen it as shorthand for bashing the poor. In 2008 the Fabian Society urged the BBC to put it on their list of offensive terms. "This is middle class hatred of the white working class, pure and simple," wrote Tom Hampsen, the society's editorial director. He also called on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to take this kind of class discrimination seriously.

Now a new book - Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class - argues the word is a coded attack on the poor. "As inequality has widened it's a way of people saying that the people at the bottom deserve to be there," says Owen Jones, the book's author.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 05:24 AM
Response to Original message
1. This is incomprehensible to anyone unfamiliar with UK slang. . n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
FSogol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:02 AM
Response to Reply #1
15. The term "Chav" is similar to the term "Poor White Trash." n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
panzerfaust Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:53 AM
Response to Reply #15
22. "Bogan" is the Oz Oi-quivalent
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 05:24 AM
Response to Original message
2. a coded attack on the poor ?
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 05:30 AM by dipsydoodle
That is complete bollocks.

Is/was just a dress code. No different from the original skins in many respects other than the fact that skins were also music related. Have some Ska : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKbXDmi26BI
and Reggae - Real Skinheads and Real Reggae http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmD3bK00FMo&feature=rela...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 05:30 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Be serious - it's about far more than the clothes people wear
All you have to do is look at the way it's normally used. It's not about clothes, or a look - it's criticism of behaviour. It's arguable whether it's a general attack on the poor, or it's aimed only at people who really are antisocial or dishonest, and happen to be poor too - but 'just a dress code', is, in your words, complete bollocks.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 05:33 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. They are generally recognisable by the way they dress
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 05:39 AM by dipsydoodle
Hence : dress code.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Pab Sungenis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 06:34 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. Not just dress
but speech and attitude, and the attitude is what most people find offensive.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 06:54 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. Any comments I made above
were simply from a descriptive visual point of view : not a condemnation of "speech or attitude" - that's their own affair and other "groups" don't bother me in that way anyway....I probably wouldn't even notice.

Until now I wasn't aware the expression was known outside of the UK - I've only ever been aware of it in context with Essex and Kent.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 06:37 AM
Response to Reply #4
10. Yes.
And it both implies that certain behaviour is typical of working-class individuals, and that it's more serious in working-class than better-off people. Thus, the people who most typically use the term will treat a young working-class man who drinks, takes drugs, or commits vandalism as irredeemably morally inferior, a 'chav', while a rich young member of the Bullingdon Club who does the same things may be seen as just 'sowing his wild oats'.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:48 AM
Response to Reply #4
21. The first time I heard the word "Chav" it was being used as a descriptor for this woman:


Kelly, from "The Misfits"
"The Queen of Chavs"

It was pretty clear from the character, that
"Chav" means more that just a description of
how she dressed.

Feisty, lower-class female, is how I saw
the word used.

I'm surprised today to learn that men are
called "Chavs" as well.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:20 AM
Response to Reply #21
28. nope - aggressive, ignorant, and dressed/made up garishly. No gender base at all. nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Tunkamerica Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 05:28 AM
Response to Original message
3. chavs have definite style like the greasers did here and the mods
and countless other groups.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
w4rma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 05:42 AM
Response to Original message
6. Middle class IS working class. If you live paycheck to paycheck you are working class. (nt)
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 05:43 AM by w4rma
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 06:13 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. You may find
we use the expressions differently each side of the Atlantic but I agree with your statement.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Blasphemer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:36 AM
Response to Reply #7
17. Yes, I've been told that class differentiations are completely different in the UK
It's not just about money but also about upbringing and the society in which one was brought up. Someone from a working class background may get defensive if you label them as middle class by U.S. standards. We tend to lump everyone into the middle class perhaps making distinctions between lower middle class and upper middle class as opposed to strongly delineating a working class.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 06:33 AM
Response to Original message
8. Because of the way it's used: to attack poor and working class people
'Oiks' does have a similar implication; but it is not as often used seriously nowadays - though our outrageous County Council leader in Oxfordshire does use it. On the whole, tabloids will not contain articles attacking and ridiculing 'oiks', while they do so about 'chavs'. And the implication is that working-class people are badly-behaved, stupid and undeserving.

The term probably has the same sort of associations as 'white trash' in America.

James Delingpole is a nasty right-winger, best known for his obsession with denial of global warming.



Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 07:20 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. all this handwringing would be meaningful if the term
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 07:21 AM by dmallind
were applied to the working class in toto or indiscriminately. It's not. If one middle class person pointed to a group of building laborers for example, wearing normal clothes and just chatting about sports at the pub, and said to his middle class friend "look at those chavs", he would get in return either a blank look or a snigger at misused slang. Put a group of any class in track suits and Burberry baseball caps and heavy jewelry and have them behave obnoxiously then it's appropriate and accepted usage. Just because the "style" is more popular among the working class does not make use of the term a proxy for them. Only a tiny minority of the working class would be called chavs by any informed user of the word, and only when they adopt that style. Just like all poor people in the US are not called "rednecks", but a wealthier individual sporting a mullet, a torn NASCAR T shirt, cigarette-sponsored baseball cap and wispy mustache while driving his 80s Camaro would be, even if he were an orthodontist.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 07:23 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. That doesn't necessarily mean it isn't class based.
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 07:29 AM by Pithlet
White trash is a class based insult, even if all poor people dont' meet the definitions of white trash, and there are middle/upper class people that do.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:31 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. How?
If it isn't applied to all members of class X just those who exhibit certain behaviors, and is applied to members of class Y who exhibit the same behaviors, how can it be class based not behavior based?

I don't think white trash is a good analogy because clearly that IS class based. Mel Gibson never gets called white trash regardless of his boorishness. "Trash" just like "trailer trash" clearly has connotations of those who live squalid lives.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
FSogol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:36 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. Aren't Paris Hilton and Linsey Lohan called white trash?
:shrug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:12 AM
Response to Reply #18
24. Dunno - not my bag really. I wouldn't apply the term to them. S'pose some might. nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:43 AM
Response to Reply #16
20. That's why I qualified it with necessarily.
I used white trash as an example for that reason. It is class based even though sometimes people who aren't poor are called white trash. Therefore I think it's possible for an insult to be class based even if it sometimes applies to those who aren't in that class.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:17 AM
Response to Reply #20
26. But again - only a subset based on style/behavior
Not all poor = chav. Some rich = chav. Common denominator for chav is appearance and behavior. Sure the appearance and behavior is more prevalent among the working class, but that's like saying murderer is a gender-based term because the vast majority of murderers are men.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:19 AM
Response to Reply #26
27. But again. That doesn't mean it isn't class based.
Whether a person is called white trash is based on style and behavior as well.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:35 AM
Response to Reply #27
30. more detail please
We agree it's not universal or even a majority among the working class, no?

We agree it can be applied to middle class people too, no?

We agree that it depends on style and behavior, no?

Then how, exactly, is it class-based?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:47 AM
Response to Reply #30
33. Do you really think that class distinctions aren't based on appearance?
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 09:49 AM by Pithlet
They certainly are. People absolutely do make their own decision on how they choose to look and judge others on how they look very often based on class. Judgment of style and behavior are wrapped in class distinction all the time. That is how it is class based.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #33
35. Appearances and behavior are chosen. Class is not, per se.
Sure if I were shown a picture of an unkempt dirty man in stained clothing and asked to "guess the class" I would choose working - while remaining fully cognizant it could be the Duke of Norfolk working on his hobby of raising roses. And that immaculately groomed chap in the perfectly tailored evening dress could be an assistant butcher from Barnsley who rented it for his wedding. But nobody rational assumes these are not possible. Class can never be deduced from a single encounter and no further information (silly exceptions such as the one everybody is bowing to at a royal event is probably not working class notwithstanding). If you see a gang of loutish teens in ghastly overdone attire they may be the children of garbage men or the children of earls, but they will be chavs regardless, and made so by their actions, not their wealth or background.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #35
37. Right. But people will often choose and judge with class in mind
It's true that you can't automatically assume someone's class based on appearance. But people do judge based on that all the same, and make choices based on their own appearance as well. That is why, just because the deal with Chavs is appearance based, doesn't mean it isn't based on class. In fact, a clue that tells me it might at least be in part class based is the whole thing about Burberry becoming less popular with the upper crust when it became popular with Chavs.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:58 AM
Response to Reply #13
23. I'm sure that Burberry's is THRILLED about this! n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:14 AM
Response to Reply #23
25. They are trust me - chav money spends like any other
And they get plenty of it. Knock-offs are a problem of course.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:20 AM
Response to Reply #25
29. Yeah, but it could slow sales with their traditional customer base...
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 09:23 AM by PassingFair
not buying anymore for fear of being seen as "Chavs".

What is "chav" short for, anyway?

On edit:

"Council-Housed And Violent"

or;

from some old Romani word...?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #29
32. nobody really knows, but almost no slang terms come from acronyms
...military jargon aside. Plenty get acronyms retroactively applied. We see this with profanities like "fuck" being "for unlawful carnal knowledge" or "fornicating under command of the king" when really it comes from a boring old Germanic word "fokk" meaning to bang against something. The Romansh link makes some sense, as the style itself is not too far from stereotypical "pikey" garb, but like most slang it's difficult to say.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #23
36. They stopped making some of their stuff
which meant the only gear available was what would otherwise have been rip offs.

Bit touchy of them really. An equivalent from years ago might've been something like Farah's and the ICF but Farah's didn't bat an eyelid.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 06:52 AM
Response to Original message
11. You'll have to ask the Brits. We're not about "Sloane Rangers" here, either.
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 06:54 AM by WinkyDink
Even if I do read the Daily Mail....daily.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
kenny blankenship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 08:37 AM
Response to Original message
19. It didn't get bad until Jen Saunders did that TV show ASBOlutely Chavulous
Edited on Fri Jun-03-11 08:38 AM by kenny blankenship
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dmallind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
31. a pic may be useful
Here we have chavdom on display...

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-03-11 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #31
34. Amazing
That was the exact picture I'd have posted. :rofl:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Tue Sep 23rd 2014, 08:30 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » General Discussion Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC