Social labelling and the media – am I next? – Class

Posted: October 18, 2013 in Experience & Identity
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Chav Babes 2006 Calender Sunday MercuryOk so new week on the Media Culture and Practice course and once again I have so many questions! I’ve just been reading an article called “Chav Mum Chav Scum” by Imogen Tyler (2008)

In this article she uses a word to describe a new social class, a class of poor white working-class known as ‘chavs’. This is not a new word or a new phenomenon but its effects are far reaching and long standing.

The first question I have is this – who next? Which group of society will be vilified and ridiculed and hated. As Imogen Taylor suggests, there has always been an underclass but what seems to be happening now is that technology is supporting it in a way like never before.

Throughout history there have been ‘chavs’ – and underclass in society, people at the bottom of the social ladder, with no way to escape their poverty. But what is different now is the role of the media in making this situation a whole lot worse! Through the mass media, the chav has become a figure to be ridiculed and hated. The biggest chav of all (Vicky Pollard from Little Britain) has completely taken over this idea. She is a media creation to laugh at and despise. Through Figurative methodology, the chav figure has become (as Imogen Taylor explains) distorted and caricatured.

Over time, society zooms in on a group of people (the chavs) and repeats them over lots of different media – TV, Newspapers, Film, Documentaries, Music etc. Over time this figure becomes embedded in the culture. Then lots of negativity surrounds this group and a new lower social class is born. (which makes the white upper/ middle classes very happy because they have someone else to sneer at perhaps?) Without the media, the chav would just be white poor but now they have a label and have become a figure, they develop qualities that people love to hate.

So, am I safe from this? Am I next? Has it already started? The rise of ‘lad culture’ and the negative media surrounding it is not difficult to find – National Union of Students recent research on ‘laddism’ and a culture of harassment or the Daily Mail headline from 2010 –“ Lads’ mags and a toxic culture that treats all women like meat.” (Jan Moir May 2010)

So what’s next? A comedy TV programme? No wait, already done with ‘The Inbetweeners’. As a ‘lad’ of 19, can I escape from this label? There must be an awful lot of poor, white working class people who are thinking the same thing. They are not ‘chavs’ but they are going to be tarred with the same brush. As an unregulated body (although this may change with the Leveson Report) the mass media can make or break a social class with a picture or a headline. At what point will society fight back?

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Comments
  1. sherryl wilson says:

    I like the way that you take Tyler’s arguemt to broaden your discussion about the denigration of social groups with little power. I wonder if you are cincerened about how you might be represented in a range of media as ell as the ways in which others are represented. You have the beginnings of some nice ideas here, so feel free to developthem in more depth and detail.

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