The Observer's Carole Cadwalladr asks a man on the street, 'What is a chav?'. He answers, “A chav is someone who wears a tracksuit, has an earring, and a haircut which is grade zero on the sides, grade three on the top.”
This contrasts with Owen Jones's argument in Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. Arguing that the chav figure is a caricature that encourages the ridicule and hatred of working-class people, Jones states, “The 1980s saw a dramatic assault on all aspects of working class life, on unions, and council houses, and communities, and with it working class pride. It's been replaced by middle class pride, and the working classes have come to be seen as something to escape from.” Calder discusses the media's role in caricaturing working-class people in this way Britain's TV:
To find what used to be termed “the respectable working class” you need to drive 10 miles from Brentwood, and travel back 30 years in time, to the other side of the county, and the other side of Thatcherism: to the Dagenham of Made in Dagenham... It's only here, in the past, that you'll find a world of proud and happy working class folk; people who are empowered by trade unions... who are diligent and law-abiding and happy to call themselves working class.
In 2011, Jones says, hardly anyone does. When I ask Tony Benn why that is he says: “It's because there's this idea that somehow you've failed if you're poor.” The idea of chavs as a semi-feral underclass has emerged, he suggests, because “the media are very hostile to these people. What they're doing is suggesting that if they're sacked it's in some way their fault. And if you blame unemployment on the victims, you are ignoring the logic of what has actually happened.”
From The Demonization of the Working Class over on the Verso blog.