Is Australia as egalitarian as we think it is
We might tell ourselves that Australia doesn't have a class system, but when you look at our financial situations, our cultural habits, and our social networks, a different story emerges, write Jill Sheppard and Nicholas Biddle.
Australia, it has been decided at some point in our history, is an egalitarian society.
Built on mateship and a fair go, we sit in the front seat of taxis and prefer to pay a living wage rather than force our service workers to rely on tips. This is particularly stark in comparison to Britain, where society is coloured by longstanding social hierarchies.
In Australia, we don't have classes. Our conflicts are over football teams, or football codes. Or at least, that is what we tell ourselves.
In wholesale pandora bracelets July this year, the Australian National University and the Social Research Centre surveyed Australians on their economic position, their cultural habits, and their social networks.
True to expectations, we found that Australia does have a flatter social structure than Britain. Around 92 per cent of Australians describe themselves as belonging to either the working or middle class, with only 2 per cent admitting to belonging to the upper class. The remaining 6 per cent didn't know.
But, when we looked at the data on other responses a little deeper, we found that Australia had five distinct social classes.
Find out where you fit in Australia New research from the ANU shows there are five social classes in Australia. Take the ABC's questionnaire to find out where you fit.
Our framework draws on sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's conceptualisation of social class: citizens accumulate and posses economic, cultural, and social forms of capital. The distribution of these three forms of capital represent, at any given moment, constraints on our ability to get ahead in the social structure, while maintaining others' position at the 'top'.
Based on the distribution of economic, cultural, and social capital in Australian society, we can currently observe five distinct classes. We have labelled these the "established working", "established middle", "mobile middle", "emergent affluent", and "established affluent".
Only six factors two measures of economic, cultural, and social capital respectively were used to establish price for a pandora bracelet the existence of the five classes (via latent class analysis). Subsequent exploration of how other demographic and socioeconomic characteristics are distributed within and between the classes shed light on class membership.
Members of the established working class have the lowest household incomes, the lowest rates of social and cultural capital, and both they and their parents have relatively low 'occupational prestige' scores (wherein medical specialists rate highly, and low skilled manual labourers score lowly). They also have the highest mean age of the classes.
Members of the established middle class earn close to average household incomes, and possess close to average social and cultural capital. They come from middle class families: their parents' occupational prestige was close to the mean, and they follow in those footsteps.
By contrast, members of the mobile middle class come from middle class families, but have above average educational qualifications. Likely as a new charms pandora consequence, they report higher household income, property assets, and social capital than the two previous classes.
Similarly, members of the emerging affluent class have turned the benefits of education into household income. The youngest of the five classes, members have high levels of cultural and social capital, and both parents have held prestigious occupations. Noticeably, members of this class report few savings: their property assets are the second lowest of the five classes, only slightly ahead of the established working class.
The established affluent class resemble an older generation of emerging affluent Australians. Members of this class have where to buy pandora charms near me high household incomes (despite relatively low occupational prestige), large and diverse social networks, and above average educational qualifications. This is not to suggest that Australians are less precariously placed economically, socially, and culturally than the British, or that we don't have our own economic "one per cent".
Rather, it tells us that our social classes are more inclusive than their British counterparts. There is a broader range of people, in terms of economic, social, and cultural capital in each of the Australian classes than in the British classes.
We also have some insight into the political preferences of the five Australian classes. Respondents to the July survey were asked which party they would be likely to vote for, were an election to be held at the time of the survey. Obviously, the hypothesised Abbott v Shorten contest is no longer a reality. But, given what we know about the relative stability of Australians' political preferences, this measure shines some light on the social bases of our political parties.
Class and voting intention in Australia
The graph above shows the voting intentions of members of each class in July 2015. Perhaps surprisingly, class affluence is not monotonically related with voting intention. The established working and mobile middle classes are the most supportive of the Liberal Party. The emerging affluent class is the most supportive of Labor.
The established middle and affluent classes are perhaps the most interesting of the five groups. They show no great love for the Liberals or for Labor, but are the most likely to vote Green at the time of the survey.
Where the data support the assumption that Australian society is less hierarchical and more egalitarian than British society, they also suggest, in line with David Kemp's longstanding argument, that class cleavages have a diminished role in Australian electoral politics.
Dr Jill Sheppard is a political scientist and survey researcher at the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods. Dr Nicholas Biddle is a quantitative social scientist and deputy director of the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods.
Interesting comment. Most Australian's think there is no class system in Australia. That sort of thing only went on in pre WWI England and "other places".
However, I wonder how many people actually take the time to consider how closely the current system reflects the old Aristocracy of England. Murdoch and Packer). bailing out Ford, Holden and Global banks, and closer to home, the unfairness of Joe Hockey's first budget. This is sometimes referred to as "privatisation of profit and socialisation of risk".
We also see pushes to remove penalty rates from some of our lowest paid workers to make coffee easier to access and cheaper (working poor = peasants of the old feudal system). All this points towards increasing "aristocrisation" of Western culture, all the while these some forces (small rich elites and their lobbyists) talk about capitalism and market economies which they have effectively negated. And with it, egalitarianism is all but dead (America is the most stark example of this).
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