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Summer riots examined

'Chavs' author and activist Owen Jones in public lecture

Published on November 28th 2011.

Summer riots examined

OWEN Jones, author of the highly recommended book, Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, is to appear in a public lecture to discuss this year’s summer riots and what the reactions of the public say about modern Britain.

The political commentator and activist will deliver a talk titled After the Backlash: The Summer Riots and the Right, on Thursday December 8.

In his lecture, Jones, whose book documents the stereotyping of the working class in Britain, will discuss the violent events which traumatised communities across England.


He argues the subsequent backlash was manipulated by right-wing commentators keen to emphasise the existence of a "feral underclass" and that the concept of an "undeserving poor" was escalated into something bigger and more dangerous - that the poor are, in some respects, sub-human. 

Owen JonesOwen JonesHe claims the riots were apparent proof that Britain perceives itself to be middle-class, apart from a “dysfunctional rump defined by its behavioural problems”.

Owen will raise questions about what this backlash says about modern Britain and if we can ever hope to understand the reality of the summer riots.

Owen’s talk is the second in a series of guest lectures on the topic (In)Security, Surveillance and the State to explore the politics of ‘insecurity’ by examining some of the most controversial events in today’s society.

Mark McGovern, Professor of Sociology and who has coordinated the series, said: “The lecture series will see internationally-renowned commentators and academics investigate in detail major key events and, as a result, some of the most critical, controversial and divisive issues that confront us today.

 “In this second event in the series, Owen will argue that the working class stereotype was used by government in the summer riots as a convenient smokescreen to avoid genuine engagement with social and economic problems, and to justify widening inequality. His thought-provoking talk will show that the media supported this by painting a picture of the working class as a group in society to sneer at, ridicule and even incite hatred against.”

 The lecture is free to attend and spaces are limited. To book your place, email here. Arrival is 5.30pm with refreshments, ready for a 6.30pm start and refreshments and networking afterwards.

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