White Working Class Discriminated

Published: 24 June 2014

Region: Europe

OSF_picThe negative portrayal of white working-class by media which often describe them as feckless and lazy scroungers can further the marginalisation of this social group, says the new research by Open Society Foundations.

The “Europe’s White Working Class Communities” study reveals that negative stereotypes reproduced by journalists can have a distorting effect not only to the community itself but also to the respective policy decisions.

The extend of the media impact can be so large that it can discourage business investments and professionals from working in the so-called working class white areas aggravating that way their alienation.

The OSF project documents the experiences of ‘white’ communities in six cities across Europe (Aarhus, Amsterdam, Berlin, Lyon, Manchester, and Stockholm). In the UK there has been a rise of the “chav” stereotype so the media portrayed them as not socialised, lazy and even violent sometimes.

According to the research, members of the working-class are fully aware of this phenomenon. The OSF interviewees in Manchester have described journalists as being “all born with a silver spoon in their mouth”. While journalist working for Manchester Evening News commented that her colleagues were almost exclusively coming from middle class backgrounds highlighting that way the lack of diversity in the newsrooms and its effect. “Middle-class readers are much more effective at getting their stories into the paper and much keener to call the newspaper and complain” she added.

The discrimination against working class in Britain is not a new phenomenon. In 2008, the think-tank “Fabian Society” urged the BBC to put the word “chav” on their list of offensive terms while the Guardian columnist, Polly Toynbee calls it “the vile word at the heart of fractured Britain”. The first recorded use of the word in newspaper was in 2002 and by 2004 it has been in common currency.

The same problem exists not only in the UK but also in Sweden with the “white-trash” and in Netherlands and Sweden with the broadcasting of TV shows focusing on “problematic families” and people benefiting from the social welfare system.

Please read the whole report here.

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