Can ‘Neds’ or ‘Chavs’ be non-delinquent, educated or even middle class?: Examining the cultural stereotypes

Can Neds (or Chavs) be non-delinquent, educated or even middle class? contrasting empirical findings with cultural stereotypes

From Sociology

Ned (non-educated delinquent) is the Scottish equivalent of the English term ‘Chav’. It refers a stereotypically underclass situated in deprived areas. Accordingly, the term Ned and Chav are used synonymously, both linked with a distinctive set of characteristics, mannerisms, tastes, style and also antisocial behaviours. Using a survey of over 3000 15-year-old school pupils from the West of Scotland, this study investigated the association between adopting a Ned identity and socio-economic background, educational engagement, delinquency, peer-status and (sub) cultural markers. It analyses the ‘Ned/Chav Phenomenon’ from an empirical perspective, exploring the ‘reality’ of such stereotypes, in a broadly representative study of young people.

Contrary to the judgment of leading sociologists the traditionally stigmatized Ned/Chav identity is now a readily accepted self-label adopted by a minority of young people. The results challenge sociologists to re-examine their assumptions in relation to the link between youth identity and affluence and require them to explain this profound lack of association. The paper demonstrates a major divergence between the perceptions of social commentators and youth of every social class about the connections between social class and embracing a marginalized (Ned/Chav) identity which requires deeper sociological exploration.

Abstract

Ned (non-educated delinquent) is the Scottish equivalent of the English term ‘Chav’. It refers stereotypically to low class, uneducated, raucous and antisocial youth and is linked to specific (sub)cultural markers, e.g. a preference for drinking the fortified wine ‘Buckfast’. Using a survey of over 3000 15-year-old school pupils from the West of Scotland, we investigated the association between adopting a Ned identity and socio-economic background, educational engagement, delinquency, peer-status and (sub)cultural markers. Some 15 per cent of pupils self-identified as a Ned. (Sub)cultural markers such as listening to hip-hop, peer-status, delinquency, educational disengagement and area deprivation were associated with adopting a Ned identity. This suggests greater evidence for agency or cultural influences than structural or socio-economic influences. Irrespective of socio-economic status a substantial minority of young people self-identify as ‘Neds’. Among explanations for this appeal are elevated peer-status, the attraction of non-conformity and the growth of ‘Chav pride’ within popular culture.

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Article details
Young, R. (2012). Can Neds (or Chavs) Be Non-delinquent, Educated or Even Middle Class? Contrasting Empirical Findings with Cultural Stereotypes Sociology, 46 (6), 1140-1160 DOI: 10.1177/0038038511435059

     
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