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.
Chavs is one of the most influential political books of our time. Written in the aftermath of the financial crash, it reshaped the conversation on class in Britain for the following decade. In this new edition, Owen Jones shows how the abiding prejudice against the working class was central to the crises of our era: austerity, Brexit, and even COVID-19. This remains an essential book for anyone who wants to understand Britain in the twenty-first century.