A discourse analytic study on how the term ‘chav’ is constructed in the United Kingdom.
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The present study looked to investigate how the term ‘chav’ is constructed as a youth subculture through content and discourse analysis. The use of the term ‘chav’ has increased in recent years, with the media focusing on associating deviant behaviour with chavs. Previous studies have investigated the construction of the term through researcher generated data such as interviews. The present study used naturally occurring data on the internet in order to investigate the construction of the chav identity, making use of video clips with the keyword ‘chav’ taken from the social media website, ‘YouTube’. The clips were then coded into five categories of stereotypes, deviance, violence, media and celebrity chavs, and the content was analysed for subthemes, before transcribing suitable clips for discourse analysis. The analyses found references to clothing, consumption habits and acts of deviant or criminal behaviour as features constructing the chav identity, among others. Furthermore, the analysis found a general unwillingness to accept the label of ‘chav’, and the identity was often rejected. Overall, similarities were found between discourse on chavs and on previous deviant youth subcultures, with references to deviant behaviour and distinctive fashion. Furthermore, negative attitudes towards chavs were presented as factual, further constructing a derogatory identity.