5 Jun 2011

Discussing New "Class" Fluctuations aka 'Chavs'

Suzanne Moore, Guardian Columnist, writes an interesting piece on 'Chavs' in this week's Saturday Guardian on Chavs, that, while eloquent, entirely misses the point of the debate.

Moore's take is aggressive and snide, and fails to come to any conclusions other than Chavs exist and the other classes don't like them.

The Underclass

Using the ubiquitous Lauren from Catherine Tate as a point of reference, she turns the discussion about what constitutes a 'chav' into a discussion on class and aspiration. To me, this is like a GCSE dissertation that would be laughed out of University seminars.

The word 'chav', parethesis required, depicts what Marx referred to many decades ago as the underclass. It is a depiction, in the worst way, of the dregs, scum or plankton of society that fails to aspire, to contribute to society or to function within the wider scale of social class evolution and transition. Therefore the definition 'chav' is simply a new terminology for such a position in society.

This terminology simply refers to a section of society that, Moore rightly states, tend speak a patois of "black", an epitome of confused origins, confused futures and a lack of direction in any area of immensely complicated lives. Social policy is the tip of the iceberg in challenging structural ideologies when dealing with an underclass that creates it's own circular economy separate from any system the government can impose or remove.

While Moore neatly portions 'chavs' into a 'poor' bracket, she fails to observe this is not a new phenomenom. Marx says himself;

This scum of the depraved elements of all classes ... decayed rou├ęs, vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, brothel keepers, tinkers, beggars, the dangerous class, the social scum, that passively rotting mass


This is much as Moore depicts the poor, those who gain no benefits from society, therefore embracing a passive inertia is the most logical conclusion. Why should a convicted criminal seek to be more than he is, when he is discriminated against at every turn; unable to get a bank account, rent other than a council house, locate a job or an education?

Battling Generalisations

Social policy is the real debate. If people are worked against, discriminated against and expected to fall at every turn, they will not develop aspirations that would embody other class structures, from hard-working classes (the new middle class) or the upper middle classes.

The concept of the 'chav' is subject to striking generalisation in an age of austerity (and that's another rhetoric I'm beginning to loathe) with a predominately centre right government who embrace middle class ideology in spite of all the whimperings of the Lib Dems about social mobility.

If social policy made more ways for people to join the social-evolutionary-cycle (I'm sure there's a better expression for that) then the issue of a side-show for "the rich slagging off the poor for being poor". The constant battle those who are raised by single parents, addicted persons, ex-offenders and other so-called scum, then the situation would not seem quite so disparate. But all the time there are such bitter distinctions, such as access to work, the situation will pertain, whether they wear tracksuits or not.

The future of classes

I wonder if Moore reads her own paper. Guy Standing's article on Wednesday discussed The Preclariat, the 'new' class of people whose lives are without stability, who thrive on emotional charge, drift between jobs, aspirations, and have little hope of securing property or security in their lives. This is currently what the underclass have to aspire to.

And on a gender note

Moore's article made me laugh initially, although I couldnt quite reconcile it with The Guardian and it's centre left ideology. However, in retrospect, I observed that every single comparison to the attack on 'Chavs' was based on female examples.

She berates "Lauren", she belittles Katie Price, Kerry Katona and Jade Goody, and she even cites a fear of women as a legitimate example of the middle classes loathing of the underclass representation.

Where are the thuggish footballers that would epitomise the same concepts? What about the satirical take on black patois by Ali G that is such an apt interpretation of the cumulative negative effects of the power of the media?

In spite of being a female author, she choses to belittle the female representation of the underclass in sleb life to demonstrate the worst of the underclass. Apparently it is far worse to be a single mum than a male homeless addict. The females are the ones who take the brunt of the assault of her opinion, her loathing linked directly to the structural ideologies that pertain no matter what generation or class you may belong to.

Were Iceland represented by Honor Blackman, she may have taken a different tact. But Moore choses to put the boot into female aspiration far heavier than she does to the concept of 'chavs' as an ideology. To be a chav is a dire existence, but to be a female one is tantamount to being a devil incarnate.

To further suggest that this is part of a right-wing mentality, thereby potentially seeking to appease her own guilt for processing a right-wing argument in a left wing paper, she is perpetuating the ideology that women should be the subhumans in all class genres.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent!

    Suzanna Moore is a tabloid journalist, of course, and plays that role in the Saturday Guardian. Guy Standing was interesting, too, making a good justaposition - and is pilloried in the artcile comments section for being an academic.

    How we see others and, furthermore, how others see us, is an important part of the daily experience and is where the personal meets the political. I have ceased to be amazed how people dis-associate the two.

    There is so much 'me, me' and unpleasant 'othering' that poisons the debate at every level.

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