Popular representations of the Working Class – contested Identities and Social Change


This review critically explores media representations of working class people and working class lives. Drawing on various studies, as well as other examples from different forms of media, it argues firstly that there is prevalence of derogatory images which undermine the emergence of valued independent working class identities. However, attention is also given to some – albeit exceptional – more contradictory representations which may indicate more progressive lines of development. One particular common stereotype which is highlighted is that of working class people‟s consciousness lacking potential for development except at the price of losing their working-classness. This, it is argued, is encouraged by the more general commonsense division between workers and thinkers, one which in fact goes against rich traditions of working class self-education. After discussing the educational implications of these observations, the review shifts to consider a recently intensified tendency in the media for „defending‟, specifically, the white working class as an oppressed ethnic group. Different examples of this phenomenon are discussed in the light of alternative perspectives based on historical insights into the possibility for transcending divisions within the working class. In this way the emphasis on white working class particularism is seen to be in danger of reintroducing assumptions of working class stasis and of crippling efforts – including in educational settings – to tackle racist viewpoints.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
This entry was posted in Identity, Social change, Social class, Workers, Working class and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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