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Three (working-class) Girls



Public, Staff, Students

Social realism, the ‘at-risk’ girl and the othering of the poor


This paper focuses on the BBC One three-part drama Three Girls broadcast in July 2017, which dramatised the Rochdale child sex-grooming gang scandal of 2011, and won 5 BAFTAs in 2018. Whilst many of the dominant press narratives focussed on the race of the perpetrators, most of whom were of Pakistani origin, few accounts of the scandals have led to a sustained public discussion of the class location of the victims.

This paper considers how the process of recognising the social problem ultimately addressed the television audience. In many ways the drama rendered visible the structural conditions that provided the context for this abuse by drawing on the expanded repertoires of social realism available to contemporary television drama. However, ultimately, the narrative marginalises the type of girl most likely to be the victim of this form of sexual abuse. The analysis draws attention to the difficulties in recognising alternative classed subjectivities on television by drawing boundary-markers between the working-class and the poor, and suggests that the implication of those representations is to reify ideas about the victims of poverty and exploitation.

About the speaker

Helen Wood is about to take up a new position as Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Lancaster. She has published widely on television, gender, class and cultural studies. She is author of Talking With Television (2009), with Bev Skeggs Reacting to Reality Television (2012) and editor with Rachel Moseley and Helen Wheatley of Television for Women: New Directions (2017). Helen is also editor of the European Journal of Cultural Studies.

Organised by the Gender and Sexuality Research Centre, Department of Sociology, City, University of London

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When and where

12.00pm - 1.00pmWednesday 6th February 2019

D221 Rhind Building City, University of London St John Street London EC1R 0JD United Kingdom