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To think the working classes have been demonized in this country?

(177 Posts)
AwkwardMary Wed 28-Mar-12 23:15:24

I just read an article about it...lost the page can't link sorry! It really resonated with spoke of how their are no positive working class characters on TV anymore...the comedy shows that portray them make them the lowest of the low and shows like TOWIE are only illustrating how the working classed "done good" are only as tacky and badly informed as they "ever were"...and how Little Britain was written by two middle class men who'd been to private who the eff were THEY to take the piss out of working class girls like they did?

In the 80s we had good, positive and sympathetic worknig class characters like Yosser and it spoke of how Brookside was born of the Thatcher Years and showed a truer representation of the hard working working classes. Those with respect for themselves and a good work ethic. The 50s, 60s and 70s had lots of good literature such as Kes and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Poor Cow, Up the Junction etc

These days people are all about moving forward and away from being working class...nothing wrong with that you may think...why shouldn't people aspire to a better lifestyle? Well of course they should but not if it means that anyone who isn't striving for a bigger house and more "things" is looked down on and called a chav.

Is it all about respectability? Have the real working classes lost their self respect?

(I am working class right through and often feel confused about my past and my present)

Latara Sat 16-Feb-13 17:33:05

I've got backache from working this week so i'm definitely working class ;)

PS. this is a very old thread.

mrsbunnylove Sat 16-Feb-13 16:48:03

there is no 'working class'. the respectable working class became lower middle with the expansion of university education from the 1960s onwards, and the rest sank into chavdom.

rollmopses Sat 16-Feb-13 16:45:56

Hmmmm. Degrees and jobs really do not matter an iota anymore. Wealth and possessions are equally unimportant.
Your social class is down to your family background, upbringing, schooling and intrinsic values.
Really, lower-middle and upper-working tend to blend , middle-middle is desperate to be seen as upper-middle, upper-middle feeling resentful of landed chaps etc ad nauseam.
Only lower-working and proper upper class don't give a damn.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 16-Feb-13 16:13:37

I agree with the OP that there is much demonisation of people and groups of people who would probably fit the most usual definitions of the term 'working class'.

Some thing like The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner, whilst it depicts a criminal, fairly amoral and unsympathetic main character, is also concerned with wider social issues and unfairnesses at play in forming his character, and it shows the protagonist reflecting and theorising and thinking ... even if what he comes up with is pretty grim!

Then again, I think there was lots more overt snobbery in some seminal texts of the 60s and 70s... The Collector is in many ways all about class. The L Shaped room and its sequels are horribly snobbish. And racist.

Interesting thread, anyway.

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Sat 16-Feb-13 16:06:23


I live in a council property, have a DP who is currently unemployed (redundancy), we have 2 children, claim tax credits (shock horror).. Oh and we get buses/walk everywhere.

I have a fairly low paid full time job, BUT I am starting from the bottom. My job has potential, HUGE potential to give me and my family a better lifestyle. I also pay full rent and council tax so people can't call us for claiming housing and council tax benefit. My "chavvy council house" is clean and well presented; my partner and I take pride in where we live.

Being a working class person isn't all that bad, as long as you don't want want want and can live without luxuries smile

joanne55555 Sat 16-Feb-13 13:30:24

some of the posts on here about 'lazy scroungers' and 'common' folk are making me feel ill. Has anyone seen the unemployment figures recently? What is it.... 4 million people applying for half a million jobs? And that doesn't take into account the high volume of people who earn below what could be called a 'living wage'. Blame Thatcher and the rich.... too right. Since the late 80s the divide between rich and poor has grown ever wider. And we're encouraged to demonise the 'chavs' to keep us feeling they're the problem.... benefit fraud - £ 1 billion - tax avoidance - £17 billion.

moggle Sat 31-Mar-12 19:24:51

Noone has mentioned the Royle Family? Although I guess that is getting pretty old now I guess... That seems pretty positive or was there some terrible subtext I missed?

I am pretty middle class as are all my friends, but I must admit I baulk at some of the things some of them say about people who are working class / underclass / poorer than them. Some of it is outright horrid and considered, some is what they would class as "banter", more off the cuff remarks. They would NEVER talk about gay people, people of any particular race, disabled people that way. It hacks me off. I don't often pull them up on it, think I need to read this book to get some better arguments to have with them.

Whateveryousaymustberight Sat 31-Mar-12 11:20:19

MoreBeta. I agree with you completely. Working people are not demonised, whatever their class. Who doesn't love a grafter?

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 30-Mar-12 21:57:58

Am currently watching Benidorm. I love it, however it is yet another programme that reclassified the working class as "under class". Freakish Brit scum in the sun.

I find Corrie OK, yes there are car crash lives, but such is the stuff of TV drama. No one is going to tune in to watch ordinary people. They are boring. The problem is not TV per se, it is the factual media pandering to those need to look down on others in order to make themselves feel better.

The real Working class are not shown or talked about. They are ignored. They no longer have a voice unless they call themselves Middle class.

LittleAlbert Fri 30-Mar-12 16:36:09

Creighton I agree about EE. It's a pantomime and has no basis in the reality of ordinary lives in London - where are the builders, bus drivers, tube workers, nursery nurses, nurses, teachers?

creighton Fri 30-Mar-12 15:17:54

i think some of the confusion is due to traditionally WC people who are still working having access to things or lifestyles that traditionally MC people had i.e. foreign travel, 'exotic' food, lots of material goods and very comfortable homes. there is a pride in calling oneself working class, i do it myself despite, university, property ownership, travel, books parents aspired to this. i think that in the 70s and 80s society or access to work opened up a bit so that more WC people had opportunities that they could not or did not know how to take before so there has been a shift in how we, in reasonable work, all live.

With regard to television, i think that Coronation Street reflects this. Many of the characters come into the show with 'car crash' lives, poverty, bad marriages, poor parenting and end up living decently, steadily by getting a job and then settling down. i don't watch EastEnders, it is an example of how MC people see the WC in London, crap lives, poverty of ambition etc. the characters live within 3 miles of the City and the West End and they all live like crap, no one works in a bank or office, only the criminals have money, everyone else seems to live a hand to mouth existence.

ragged Fri 30-Mar-12 13:50:46

Fair cop, I was suggesting 95% off top of my head, based on what you hear on any radio phone in. But the weird thing is that when I try to find stats for self-identity of class (proper recent research) I can't get any consensus (in 21st century UK). From 20 to 90%+ are recently reported as identifying with WC, and MC identity for 20-70%. The only thing the polls & pundits seem to agree on is that Britain is now very confused about class identity.

yellowvan Fri 30-Mar-12 09:33:41

Another vote for Owen Jones. One point he makes is how traditional working class work,ie unionised, job-for-life, semi or un-skilled, pays enough to suopport a family, realistic career path nd progression, follow your dad down the mines type work just doesn't exist any more, and this has had a massive negative effect on social cohesion. The victims of this then get blamed for the effects of it. I really believe this to be true.

AwkwardMary Fri 30-Mar-12 09:13:58

My friend is the principal of a well known and respected Drama School Shinford...he is working class though...but he has his struggles...and surmounts them with support.

looktoshinford Fri 30-Mar-12 08:54:13

"The "underclass" have been unfairly demonised though"

Hug the underclass, eh? No thanks. They really arent welcome because they are defined by their behaviour not their situation.

Vast amounts of money have been thrown at them with no result.

You friend is working class AwkwardMary. Its all about attitude. MH and SN has nothing at all to do with it, other than how much the underclass can blag on the disability.

AwkwardMary Fri 30-Mar-12 08:31:59

Where did you get that figure ragged? I bet FAR more people woulld claim to be middle class...I agree though with what you say about undiagnosed MH or SN amongst the "feckless poor" makes a LOT of sense.

Without support, my adult friend with ADHD would probably be homeless and jobless...however he had a good network of educated friends who encouraged him to seek a diagnosis for his continuing problems with oranising his life, getting to work is a heartbreaking thought actually...I know that SOME people are simply lazy or entitled....but yet others are demoralized an depressed through a cycle of poverty and bad conditions.

ragged Fri 30-Mar-12 02:43:07

Given 95% (or similar) of the population think they are WC, yabu.

The "underclass" have been unfairly demonised though, I'd say. As feckless scroungers & worse, meaning anyone else who can't organise their lives very well, even though a lot folk have undiagnosed or untreated SN and MH issues and started life with terrible social problems that were bound to haunt them.

Mimishimi Fri 30-Mar-12 01:30:11

I think anyone who needs to hold down a salaried job to pay the bills is working class - regardless of their education or accent wink Class snobbery which goes both ways is nothing new in Britain - there have always been toffs who mock those supposedly less fortunate than themselves (generally I find those people are quite miserable though and not nearly as well-off as they like to appear) and also those who deride anything beyond a hard-scrabble existence as being 'posh'. I wouldn't rely on television portrayals of class as a measure of self-worth .

marriedinwhite Thu 29-Mar-12 19:04:20

*Little Albert* Cherie Blair may have middle class trappings but she is NOT middle class. Tony is but not Cherie.

marriedinwhite Thu 29-Mar-12 19:03:17

I think society has lost itself.

My MIL was/is the daughter of a miner who later went into service. She went to grammar school and then teacher training college. She will always have some working class traits, talking about money and not holding a knife and fork properly but she has never been common.

My mother was a ballerina, daughter of landed gentry, got knocked up before she was married and married in haste - is utterly refined but has always had slightly reprobate tendencies whilst emitting utter poshness. Think of a refined version of Joanna Lumley in Ab Fab - and at 76 can still pull off a pair of leather trousers and leopard print pumps.

I think there were and are some very refined working class people and some upper class people who are a bit common, eg, Paris Hilton. Victoria Beckham leads a middle class life style but, imo, is nevertheless eye wateringly common. Carole Middleton may have working class roots but is enviably refined.

Angeleena Thu 29-Mar-12 18:42:26

Has East Enders and Coronation Street had an effect on the attitude to the working class?

LittleAlbert Thu 29-Mar-12 17:25:10

It's a quote from Tony Blair: "we are all middle class now"

sandyboots Thu 29-Mar-12 16:49:40

not read the whole thread but has anyone mentioned the books 'chavs' the demonisation of the working class? interesting read. YANBU and I was just thinking the other day I really miss brookside!

monkeyhandbag Thu 29-Mar-12 16:46:14

I think this is so important. I am and will always be working class. I was born and raised on a council estate. I was a young single mum on benefits for a year. Then got my arse into gear and realised that education would help me to take better control of my life. I am now a uni lecturer and writer. I think working class is now wrongly used to describe people who don't work, often its the media. I will never be ashamed of my past and feel quite protective of the term working class. Where are all the working class heros??????

looktoshinford Thu 29-Mar-12 16:25:51

Owen Jones is a class warrior spouting angry left wing student politics (thus the BBC seem to love him). Seems all of societies ills can be laid firmly at the feet of the rich and Thatcher <wail>

He may be a decent political commentator in a few years, when he loses the rose tinted glasses.

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