I recently wrote as a comment on Tim Chester's blog, and thought I should also post it here. Its an appeal to all Christians, rather than being aimed at Tim.
'I grew up in the so called “underclass” although I didn’t know that until I read a Christian book on urban ministry. The first time I heard the word ‘chav’ out loud was from a Christian who had been to a ‘chav’ party who then described how she dressed up as a pregnant single mum. The first time I heard the idea that people in the benefit culture have disorderly lives and chaotic homes was today when someone pointed me to your blog [Tim Chester's blog]. No offence meant ;)
My experience of growing up in the ‘underclass’ seems so different to what I often hear Christians say about us. I think that a lot of ‘helpful generalisations’, are not generalisations at all, but merely minority cases that stand out and are then treated as the norm.
Here are my suggestions for how we can be cautious in this matter::
1) We can write and talk as if the people we are talking about are sitting in the same room, or at least they’re gonna read it later on the internet.
2) We can make sure our general statements are backed by reliable evidence.
3) We can seek more input from the people we are writing about, and see what they have to say.'