Mockery and morality in popular cultural representations of the white working class

Jayne Raisborough, Matthew Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We draw on 'new' class analysis to argue that mockery frames many cultural representations of class and move to consider how it operates within the processes of class distinction. Influenced by theories of disparagement humour, we explore how mockery creates spaces of enunciation, which serve, when inhabited by the middle class, particular articulations of distinction from the white, working class. From there we argue that these spaces, often presented as those of humour and fun, simultaneously generate for the middle class a certain distancing from those articulations. The plays of articulation and distancing, we suggest, allow a more palatable, morally sensitive form of distinction-work for the middle-class subject than can be offered by blunt expressions of disgust currently argued by some 'new' class theorising. We will claim that mockery offers a certain strategic orientation to class and to distinction work before finishing with a detailed reading of two Neds comic strips to illustrate what aspects of perceived white, working class lives are deemed appropriate for these functions of mockery. The Neds, are the latest comic-strip family launched by the publishers of children's comics The Beano and The Dandy, D C Thomson and Co Ltd
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Shortlisted for the Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence 2009


  • Chav
  • Children's Comics
  • Cultural Representations
  • Disgust
  • Distinction
  • Humour
  • Middle Class
  • Ned
  • Ridicule
  • Working Class


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