Rejecting Respectability: On Being Unapologetically Working Class
Keywords:working class, respectability, representation
Many working-class people have aspired to respectability – maintaining cleanliness in the home, presenting an image of ‘niceness’ through neat modes of dress, or speaking ‘proper’. This respectability is intended to show those in power that working-class people are worthy of their attention and assistance. But what happens when workingclass people refuse to be respectable? When they choose to use strong language and won’t speak in soft tones? What happens when working-class people do not defer to their ‘betters’ and instead articulate their anger loudly and assertively? Critiques of class systems and calls for social justice are arguably more threatening when presented in a loud and direct manner. This article considers how the politics of respectability are used against working-class activists.