Class

Chavs

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Owen Jones

This excellent book provides a long overdue look at the state of the class war in Britain today. It takes as its starting point the demonisation of the "underclass" or "chavs", as much of the media and popular culture choose to portray the poorer working class sections of society.

Owen Jones argues that in modern Britain an aggressive bigoted snobbery has emerged that allows the upper and middle classes to treat with utter contempt those they consider to be beyond the pale of decent society. Even among sections of the liberal middle classes this contempt is deemed acceptable.

Reading between the class lines

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Literacy is like water - a universal need. But what does a demand for literacy actually mean?

Recently the London Evening Standard devoted many pages to alerting its readers to high levels of "illiteracy" in order to start a campaign. It turns out that this was not much more than trying to win more volunteers for an already existing scheme to send volunteers into schools to hear children read - in other words, Big Society charity stuff rather than universal provision.

The contours of class

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The huge TUC organised demonstration in March has shown that the working class is still a force to be reckoned with. Mark L Thomas looks at the reality of class in Britain today, while Jack Farmer unpicks the debate within the Labour Party over how to relate to the cuts

After the huge TUC-organised anti-cuts demonstration at the end of March, one thing should be clear: the contours of British society remain profoundly shaped by class.

It wasn't just that the 26 March protest was huge, though it was. With at least 500,000 demonstrating - perhaps even as many as 750,000 - it was the second biggest demonstration in British history, after the February 2003 anti-war march.

Creating cities without imagination

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New Labour placed great emphasis on urban regeneration, but with deeply conflicting results. Owen Hatherley spoke to Alan Kenny and Jack Farmer about his new book and Britain's ruinous architecture.


Owen Hatherley

How did growing up in Southampton affect your view of architecture?

Socialism and women's liberation

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It is 100 years since the first International Women's Day was held in March 1911, yet despite many victories gender inequality still exists today. Sally Campbell argues that only socialism can bring genuine liberation

We live in a time of contradiction. There are more women in positions of power than ever before, yet attitudes to women seem to be going backwards. Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany, a country debating imposing a quota for women in the boardrooms. Yet the head of Deutsche Bank, when asked if he supported the proposal, said yes, of course - women would make boardrooms "more colourful and prettier".

Do workers still have power?

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Julie Sherry argues that the working class still has the power to change society.

When I was nine I asked my mum why the world was so unfair. It seemed to me that "the people in charge" were making mistakes. You can imagine my anxiety when she suggested the people in charge weren't concerned with the things they ought to be, like public welfare.

Long distance running: Alan Sillitoe (1928-2010)

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The novels of Alan Sillitoe rejoice in working class defiance. John Newsinger writes about a brilliant writer with a sad political trajectory.

(Photo: Monire Childs)

Author Alan Sillitoe died on 25 April 2010. He will be best remembered for his powerful novels and stories of working class life, such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Key to the Door, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, and a ferocious work of family biography, Raw Material.

Interview with Gary Younge: the contradictions of identity

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Identity politics have increasingly come to shape political dialogue. Gary Younge, Guardian columnist and author of a new book on the subject, spoke to Esme Choonara about immigration, racism and class.

Why did you write a book about identity?

It's an issue people talk about a lot and that has become increasingly central to our politics. But we don't often talk about it in the most informed ways.

Interview: Sheila Rowbotham - Women who dreamed of emancipation

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A new generation is taking up the struggle against women's oppression. Sheila Rowbotham spoke to Judith Orr about her latest book celebrating women who were fighting for liberation 100 years ago

Your new book, Dreamers of a New Day, explores the period around the turn of the 20th century. What motivated you to write about this period?

The book has a very long history. When I was writing Century of Women I worked through the period and summarised different aspects of politics and work. But I had material that I wanted to explore in more detail that didn't really fit into that very terse format.

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