Chav, (pron.: // CHAV) is a stereotype and pejorative epithet commonly used in the British Isles. The stereotype was popularised in first decade of the 21st century by the British mass media to refer to working-class youth subculture in the United Kingdom.
The term has its origins in the Romani word chavi, meaning "child". The 2010 book Stab Proof Scarecrows surmised that "chav" was an abbreviation for "council housed and violent"; however, this is a backronym. The derivative chavette has been used to refer to females. The adjectives "chavish" and "chavtastic" have been used in relation to items designed for or suitable for use by chavs.
In a case where a teenage woman was barred from her own home under the terms of an anti-social behaviour order in 2005, some British national newspapers branded her "the real-life Vicky Pollard" with the Daily Star running headlines reading "Good riddance to chav scum: real life Vicky Pollard evicted". A 2006 survey by YouGov suggested 70% of TV industry professionals believed that Vicky Pollard was an accurate reflection of white working-class youth. Also in 2006, Prince William of Wales and his younger brother Prince Harry had dressed up as chavs, resulting in headlines in The Sun naming him "Future Bling of England". The article stated, "William has a great sense of humour and went to a lot of trouble thinking up what to wear".
Response to the stereotype has ranged from amusement to criticism that it is a new manifestation of classism. The Guardian in 2011 identified issues stemming from the use of the terms "hoodies" and "chav" within the mass media which had led to age discrimination as a result of mass media created stereotypes.
The fashion house Burberry claimed in 2007 that the widespread fashion in the UK of wearing its brand of check was being supplied by counterfeit versions of the clothing and that Britain accounted for less than 10% of the brands sales In response to the rise in popularity of the Burberry brand Christopher Bailey, who has responsible for the company’s overall image including all advertising, corporate art direction, store design and visuals, and the design of all Burberry collections and product lines, said in 2008, "I'm proud we had such a democratic appeal".
The large supermarket chain Asda has attempted to trademark the word "chav" for a new line of confectionery. A spokeswoman said, "With slogans from characters in shows such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show providing us with more and more contemporary slang, our Whatever sweets – now nicknamed chav hearts – have become very popular with kids and grown-ups alike. We thought we needed to give them some respect and have decided to trademark our sweets."
Criticism of the stereotype
A BBC TV documentary suggested that "chav" culture is an evolution of previous working-class youth subcultures associated with particular commercial clothing styles, such as mods, skinheads, and casuals.
The widespread use of the "chav" stereotype has come in for some criticism. Some argue that it amounts to simple snobbery and élitism. Critics of the term have argued that its users are "neo-snobs", and that its increasing popularity raises questions about how British society deals with social mobility and class.
In a February 2005 article in The Times, Julie Burchill argued that use of the word is a form of "social racism", and that such "sneering" reveals more about the shortcomings of the "chav-haters" than those of their supposed victims. The writer John Harris argued along similar lines in a 2007 article in The Guardian.
The Fabian Society have stated that the term is deeply offensive and that it is "sneering and patronising" to a largely voiceless group. The term has been defined by tabloid headlines. It is language used to belittle. On describing those who use the term the society stated "we all know their old serviette/napkin, lounge/living room, settee/sofa tricks. But this is something new. This is middle class hatred of the white working class, pure and simple." The Fabian Society have been highly critical of the BBC in using the term in broadcasts. The term was reported in The Guardian in 2011 as "class abuse by people asserting superiority".
A Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords on the Equality and Human Rights Commission Meral Hussein-Ece, Baroness Hussein-Ece in 2011 tweeted, "Help. Trapped in a queue in chav land. Woman behind me explaining latest EastEnders plot to mate while eating largest bun I've ever seen." The Baroness responded to the criticism of her tweet by stating she had not meant it in a derogatory manner.
Rapper Plan B made a public statement on his website in March 2012 to oppose the use of the word "chav", describing the term "a derogatory phrase no different to the ones concerning race or sex". Speaking on BBC Radio 1Xtra he said, "When you attack someone for the way they talk, the way they dress, the music they listen to, or their lack of education and you do it publicly you make them alienated".
In popular culture
- By 2004, the word was used in national newspapers and common parlance in the UK. Susie Dent's Larpers and Shroomers: The Language Report, published by the Oxford University Press, designated it as the "word of the year" in 2004.
- The Welsh rap group Goldie Lookin Chain have been described as both embodying and satirising the "chav" aesthetic, though the group themselves deny any such agenda, simply making a mockery of the subject.
- In the BBC TV series Doctor Who episode "New Earth", the character Lady Cassandra is transplanted into Rose Tyler's body (Billie Piper). When Cassandra sees herself in a mirror, she exclaims "Oh my God... I'm a chav!".
- Characters described as "chavs" have occurred in a number of British television programmes. The character, clothing, attitude and musical interests of Lauren Cooper and her friends in the BBC comedy series The Catherine Tate Show have been associated with the chav stereotype. The comedy series Little Britain features a character with some similarities, Vicky Pollard.
- In the British television series Misfits, the character of Kelly Bailey is presented as a stereotypical "chav". Lauren Socha, the actress who portrays Kelly, has described the character as being "a bit chavvy". The Times has referred to the character as "[a] chavvish girl", and the character has been said to possess a "chav accent".
- White trash
- Folk devil
- Football casuals
- Social structure of Britain
- Eden Lake
- "Stop using chav: it's deeply offensive". Fabian Society. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Heath, Olivia (19 June 2011). "Neets, asbos and chavs: labels of age discrimination". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
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- Manley, Lance (2010). Stab Proof Scarecrows, A memoir looking at policing in the UK from a trainee's perspective. Leicester, England: Matador, Troubador Publishing Ltd. p. 369. ISBN 978-1-84876-297-8.
- "The Sunday Night Project with Lily Allen: Chavette to Lady". Retrieved 2011-04-17. "[Etiquette expert Liz Brewer] is going to change them from chavette into perfect ladies."
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- "Asda tries to trade mark "chav"". AOL NEWS.
- "British Style Genius". Season 1. Episode 5. 2008-11-04. 59 minutes in. BBC.
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- Hampson, Tom (15 July 2008). "Ban the Word Chav". The Guardian (London).
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- "Doctor Who". Season Series 2 (2006). Episode 168. 15 April 2006. BBC.
- "'Chav-free holidays' cause outrage". Metro. 26 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
- McConnell, Donna (19 November 2007). "Queen of chavs: Kate dresses as 'Vicky Pollard' for pal's 80s birthday bash". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2009-11-15.
- "Misfits – Kelly". E4.com. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- "Lauren likes her Misfits character". Metro. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Gray, Sadie. "Misfits review by The Times". The Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Laws, Rob (21 November 2010). "Misfits star Lauren Socha reveals why she's changing her accent". Sunday Mercury. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
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- Jones, Owen (2011). Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. Verso. ISBN 978-1844676965.
- Larcombe, Duncan (10 April 2006). "Future bling of England". The Sun (London). Retrieved 2007-03-06.
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- Jackson, Melissa (10 January 2005). "Music to deter yobs by". BBC News Magazine (BBC). Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- "End Of 'Hooligan' Cap". Sky News. 10 September 2004. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- Lewis, Jemima (1 February 2004). "In defence of snobbery". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- Harris, John (6 March 2007). "So now we've finally got our very own 'white trash'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- Wheeler, Brian (30 June 2005). "Leave chavs alone, say MPs". BBC News.
- Patrick, Guy (24 May 2007). "Chav a merry Xmas, Roo". The Sun (London).
- Davis, Johnny (15 April 2006). "Lady Sovereign: The country's fourth biggest chav". The Independent (London).
- Byrnes, Sholto (11 September 2005). "Say cheese! Camilla and the Queen of Chav enjoy two right royal weddings". The Independent (London).
- Smith, Alison (14 June 2005). "Media student 'expert on chavs'". BBC News.
- McVeigh, Karen (19 October 2004). "Doff your caps to the chavs ...they're THE word of 2004". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- Price, Simon (11 April 2004). "Faux peasants, a faux fascist and five to watch out for...". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2009-09-20.
- Liddle, Rod (22 October 2006). "Regrets, they’ve had a few – mainly over not having more sex – Give God His share, Dawkins". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- Pearlman, Natasha (6 October 2006). "The Chav Rich List". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2010-02-21.
- Tweedie, Neil (13 December 2004). "Cheltenham ladies and the chavs". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Tweedie, Neil (10 August 2005). "Don't be a plank. Read this and get really clueful". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2006-09-02.
- Kwintner, Adrian (13 September 2006). "Burberry drives tuk-tuk off road". Brighton & Hove Argus. Retrieved 18 September 2006.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Chavs|
- Tweedie, Neil (12 October 2005). "Check out the height of ferret fashion. Burberry has". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- Gray, Sadie (16 October 2005). "The £16m woman takes on Burberry". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- "'Asbo' and 'chav' make dictionary". BBC News. 8 June 2005. Retrieved 2006-09-02.