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OCR A Level G325 Collective Identity Social Implications

Huw Davies | Thursday September 02, 2010

Categories: A Level, OCR A Level, OCR A2

Source: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/d/grace-dent/diary-of-chav.htm
Title: ‘Diary of a Chav’ - a novel by Grace Dent

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What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people?


  • Eden Lake (2008)
  • Fish Tank (2009)
  • The Jeremy Kyle Show (available on ITV.com)
  • Little Britain (available on Youtube)
  • Wife Swap - Lizzie & Mark with Emma & Colin (Series 2, episode 2)


People on the margins of mainstream society, like the jobless and the urban poor have always been a social problem. The Romans called them sordida plebs and Marx called them the Lumpenproletariat. One of the modern labels especially for the young jobless and the urban poor is chav.

The word chav has historical antecedents because it used to be a term to describe itinerant farm labourers. Its modern usage, as with many such labels, spread through word of mouth. However, the hyper-dissemination made possible by new media means, phrases that used to take years to catch on, now become common currency immediately.

The chav stereotype is an example of a meme that has reproduced itself in cyberspace. This phenomenon can be traced to websites such as chavscum.co.uk. Now it’s a pejorative term understood across generations. It is used to dismiss or ridicule people and define them as Other.

In the process of labelling someone a chav a person is saying:

‘I am not like them - I am different and better.’

This is called, by social identity theorists such as Tajfel and Turner, intergroup discrimination.

Because the concept is socially constructed it is inherently unstable. However, when people say chav it is shorthand for a familiar set of characteristics or signifiers. When enough of these signifiers coalesce, the sign denotes chav.

Chav Signifiers

A chav lives in an urban setting - usually a council estate.
He has a low status job or no job at...

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