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#Chavcheck: Does TikTok facilitate the pornification of social class struggles?

Logan-McFarlane, Ashleigh



In 2020, the ‘chav’ trope resurfaced globally on TikTok. The trend featured individuals performing ““chav checks”, heavy makeup tutorials, and showing off the UK’s “chavviest places” with the sound check “Hey yo, chav check” employed to mock “puffa jackets, leggings and sitting around town” (Lockwood, 2020). A ‘chav’ is “a young person characterised by brash and loutish behaviour, usually with connotations of a low social status” (Dazed, 2020). The ‘poverty shaming’ mechanisms of the print media and reality TV demonise the ‘chav’ stereotype through class judgements about the appearance of working-class individuals, primarily white working-class women (McRobbie, 2020). Such class judgements assume that femininity “is a central means to acquire cultural capital” and thus “social mobility” (Tyler and Bennett, 2010, p. 381) and concentrate on exposing the 'chav’s' inability to perform this femininity correctly to elevate themselves into a higher social position (Skeggs, 2005). The younger TikTokers who are engaged in performing ‘chav’ seek reassurance from viewers that they have achieved this look using the label ‘chav check’ and, do not necessarily grasp the undesirable class connotations attached to the trend, filters, and techniques that they use to construct this satire (Di Martino, 2022). This paper aims to reveal how the TikTok platform facilitates the pornification of class struggles through unpacking the digital labour of young female TikTokers who embody and perform the ‘chav’ trope.
This study will focus on the forms of digital labour (McFarlane, Hamilton, and Hewer, 2022) used to construct the ‘chav’ look in TikTok posts through a non-participative netnography. The body is more central on TikTok and often used to perform “embodied memes” wherein the poster enacts a behaviour associated with a meme (Di Martino, 2022). I am interested in the bodily performance of ‘chav’ and the symbols, objects, and practices expressed in visual and textual forms in videos, hashtags and sounds used to mobilise young TikTokers cultural capital to identify the characteristics of their digital labour which facilitate the pornification of class. I thus seek to extend Gambetti’s (2020) conceptualisation of the socio-cultural characteristics of ‘digital habitus’ by decoding the bodily performance of ‘chav’ to demonstrate how this trope is used satirically as a mechanism for gaining attention, views, and fame on TikTok.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Netnocon 2023
Start Date Jul 27, 2023
End Date Jul 27, 2023
Deposit Date Aug 24, 2023
Keywords TikTok, identity, class, embodiment, labour, netnography

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