SO6007 - Workers and 'Chavs': The British Working Class

What will I learn on this module?

The British working class has long been of fascination to Social Scientists from Marx and Durkheim to Bourdieu and Gorz – each in turn have focussed on the question who and what is the working class and what is their likely part in the making of human history? This module critically and theoretically explores the origins of this class, its diversity and evolution and the efforts of that class to bring about social change. It critically explores the changing composition, organisation and power of that class in the 20th and early 21st century. This is a cutting edge module as it examines contemporary debates led by cultural commentators, politicians, researchers and theorists surrounding the nature and existance of class itself. Specifically the module seeks to explore the contemporary cultural and political assault on the working class, its power and legitimacy and questions how the class has gone from a cultural portrayal as ‘salt of the earth’ to ‘scum of the earth’ (Jones, 2011). This is achieved through an examination of the nature and impact of a neoliberal assault on the existance of the notion of social class on working class power, identity and organisation and on the working class experience of work and employment.

How will I learn on this module?

You will participate in a mixture of weekly lectures and seminars. The two hour lectures provide opportunity for engagment with films and other media and some discussion. Seminars will include set readings which will support and facilitate debates, small group discussions and student led presentations.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The Elp will be used to support you. This will hold a digitalised and extensive reading list with information about set readings for semianr work. It will also provide assessment material and guidelines, learning outcomes etc. Teaching materials such as PP presentations will be made available here in advance of lectures. Assessment preparation sessions will be built into the teaching programme. One to one tutorial sessions will be made available prior to the submission of assessment dates.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding
1. You will demonstrate a deep and critical understanding of a range of social theories which pertain to the definition, maintenance and condition of social class.

2. You will demonstrate a deep and critical understanding of political and organisational contexts and processes (e.g. immigration, the wefare state, neoliberalism) which the British working class have shaped and which in turn have shaped and influenced the nature, experience and power of that class.

Intellectual / Professional skills and abilities

1. You will be able to select appropriate tools and resources with which to analyse and critically appraise theories and concepts pertaining to the concept of class and the British working class in particular.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA)

1. You will demonstrate a deep and critical understanding of the role and impact of cultural depictions/constructions of the British working class which seeks to differentiate them from other social classes and to divide them as a class (e.g. through 'race', gender, 'respectable'/ 'rough').

How will I be assessed?

1,500 word conceptual essay (summative)

2,500-word critical appraisal of a contemporary cultural depiction of the British working class (summative)

Electronic feedback will be provided.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code LM39

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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