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Linking Moralisation and Class Identity: the Role of Ressentiment and Respectability in the Social Reaction to ‘Chavs’
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3495-8087
(English)In: Sociological research online, ISSN 1360-7804Article in journal (Refereed) In press
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to link two fields of research which have come to form separate lines of inquiry: the sociology of moralisation and studies on class identity. Expanding on recent papers by Young (2009, 2011) and others, the paper argues that the concepts of ressentiment and respectability can be used to connect moralisation processes and the formation of class identities. This is explored through a case study of the social reaction in Britain to white working-class youths labelled ‘chavs’. It is demonstrated that chavs are constructed through moralising discourses and practices, which have some elements of a moral panic. Moreover, moralisation is performative in constructing class identities: chavs have been cast as a ‘non-respectable’ white working-class ‘folk devil’ against whom ‘respectable’ middle-class and working-class people distinguish and identify themselves as morally righteous. Moralising social reactions are here to an important extent triggered by feelings of ressentiment. This is a dialectical process where respectability and ressentiment are tied, not only to the social control of certain non-respectable working-class others, but also to the moral self-governance of the moralisers.

Keyword [en]
chavs, class, identity, moralisation, moral panic, respectability, ressentiment
National Category
Sociology Media Studies Cultural Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120302OAI: diva2:851547
Available from: 2015-09-06 Created: 2015-09-06 Last updated: 2015-09-07

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