Sunday, January 28, 2018

The six-class system: dispelling myths of an egalitarian Australia

The story below is based on one from Britain but is all fair enough. It is one way of scoring social prestige.  In my survey research on the subject in 1971, I found that the manual/non-manual division of employment was nearly as good as any in dividing people into classes but the most meaningful of all was where you saw yourself as belonging.

And any overall measure of class is clearly too broad for most uses.  Occupation, education, wealth and income are not all highly correlated so should on most occasions be considered separately.  People may, for instance be high class on income but low on education -- and vice versa.

And there is an elephant in the room in these studies: IQ.  Charles Murray famously showed two decades ago that IQ has big effects on life chances -- including being a good predictor of income.  So class studies should all consider IQ.  From what I see, I supect that IQ  divides people up more strongly than anything else.  What I see described as upper class or upper-middle class behaviours are ones I know as also being high IQ behaviours.  What is attributed to class may be nothing more than an IQ effect.  A prestigious person will usually be a very bright person, rock stars excepted, of course.

As just one instance of that, there is a huge literature on breast feeding and the clearest finding from that is that in modern Western society there is a very strong class division. Prestigious women breastfeed and working class women give it up early on.  So much so that an upper middle class mother who fails to breastfeed gets a lot of social opprobrium -- with  medical reasons  being her only acceptable excuse.

So it is not surprising to find in that large literature a study that made an attempt to look as comprehensively as possible at all the social predictors of breastfeeding.  The finding?

"The mother's IQ was more highly predictive of breastfeeding status than were her race, education, age, poverty status, smoking, the home environment, or the child's birth weight or birth order."

It was all IQ.  What looked like an effect of social class was in fact an effect of IQ.

And I think that is particularly so in Australia.  Australians do as a matter of belief ignore social class considerations. A person in humble employment will cheerfully strike up a  conversation with a professional person and get a civil reply.  It is only  when the professional starts to use words of high generality that the conversation stops.  His IQ strongly influences the words he uses and that can lead to a communication breakdown.  So it may be that in Australia IQ is the ONLY significant form of social stratification. What seem to be other forms are in fact simply side-effects of IQ level.

While most of us have an intuitive understanding of social class, we often struggle to define it beyond simple financial metrics, like how much money someone has in the bank.

The three-stratum model, which splits all of us into either the working, middle or upper class, is a mainstay of 20th century sociology.

It's a rigid structure, but a recent report out of the Australian National University posits a more nuanced approach to the way we define ourselves and where we sit on the social ladder.

The end result? Six social classes.

Australia might like to consider itself a classless society, but these new methods of social modelling tell a far more complicated story.

We're looking for Aussies to take part in a new RN show about class in Australia. Here's how to get involved.

Social and cultural capital

Jill Sheppard, who co-authored the report Class, Capital and Identity in Australian Society with Nicholas Biddle, says recent studies of social class, particularly in Australia, have been one-tracked.

"For example: do you have a blue-collar occupation or do you have a white-collar one? Do you do low-skilled manual labour or high-skilled manual labour?"

Dr Sheppard says this method, while easy to use and measure, ignores the more complex, social aspects of class.

As part of their research, Dr Sheppard and her team surveyed 1,200 randomly selected Australians, and asked them questions about their relative wealth, their pastimes, and the occupations of the people they regularly socialised with.

She says socialisation — what those around us think and feel — has long-lasting effects on how we manifest our class behaviour.

"What your parents did, where you're from, all these little things that leave little indelible marks along the way, … [they] are really hard to shake off," Dr Sheppard says.

The new, six-class model that the ANU report proposes, based on a similar study in the UK, takes these complexities into account by measuring, along with savings and income (your economic capital), two other metrics: social capital and cultural capital.

Cultural capital, Dr Sheppard explains, is broadly defined as how you spend your free time.  "If you have the night off or away from the kids, what do you do? Do you go to see a movie? Or do you go and see the theatre or do you sit at home and play on Facebook?" she asks.

The activities are tabulated along a scale of relative prestige and used as an indication of education, socio-political access and spending habits.

Similarly, social capital is measured by prestige — but it's also contrasted by variety.

"We ask subjects the kinds of people that they know from a range of occupations. That is, 'what sort of jobs do your friends and family have?'"

"We're working on the basis that there is a difference between people who only socialise with people who do the same things as them, and people that have a broad range of social contacts."

If you mostly socialise with people who do the same things as you and those things rank lower on the prestige hierarchy (looking at Facebook vs. going to the opera, for example), then your overall score will be lower.

The six classes

While Dr Sheppard accepts that no demographic study can account for all of society's complexities, she believes the resulting six classes are as close to accurately representative as possible — at least in Australia.

The precariat – Accounting for 13 per cent of the sample, the precariat comprises Australia's most poverty-affected citizens. They have the lowest mean household income, many are unemployed or claiming government aid and their social and cultural capital scores are the lowest.

Ageing workers – This class has the highest mean age of any of the classes (58 years) and counts for 14 per cent of the population. A large portion of this class are pensioned retirees and are the least likely, along with the precariat, to be engaged in gainful employment.

New workers – In contrast, almost half of all new workers, whose mean age is naturally younger, are employed fulltime. While the relative prestige of the occupations of people in this class is slightly lower than that of ageing workers, they are more financially successful and have better social and cultural capital scores over all.

Established middle – While reporting slightly lower fulltime employment rates compared with new workers, the established middle class "appear more entrenched and comfortable in their status than the new worker class." Due to more accumulated wealth, they also enjoy "greater advantages" overall than new workers.

Emerging affluent – The emerging affluent class reports higher income levels than the established middle but, interestingly, lower "wealth accumulation" (i.e. assets and savings).

Established affluent – The closest Australia has to an aristocracy, reporting the highest scores of social, economic and cultural capital of any class.

One of the most compelling aspects of the report's results, Dr Sheppard says, is the fact that the six classes seem to make intuitive and anecdotal sense.

The mythology

While we're starting to dismantle the idea that class is meaningless in Australia, we still like to think of ourselves as a society that's blind to these kinds of social divides.

"One problem is that lots of people have written really well about this issue in Australia," Dr Sheppard says.

"But they tend to be academics who don't have any incentive to make their work accessible — and while that work remains inaccessible, this sort of mythology can persist."

The idea of the Australian 'fair-go', and the notion that we're all egalitarian, is part of the mythos around Australian identity.

And Dr Sheppard believes this is, in part, related to a historical anti-British sentiment.

"We're like their rebellious daughter, who wants to kick back against everything we see in the United Kingdom," she says.

But it's not all bad news — there is one small thing in which Australians can take solace. "There is good evidence to suggest we aren't as socially hierarchical as England," Dr Sheppard says.


Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement reached to deliver more Australian jobs

This seems to be in line with what Mr. Trump asks: Namely, give and take from both sides

This a landmark deal for trade in our region. Australian businesses and farmers will now have more opportunities to export their food, fibre and services to more customers, more easily.

More trade means more export opportunities for local businesses, and more Australian jobs.

Overnight, 11 countries - Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - reached agreement on the final Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at an officials-level meeting in Tokyo, Japan.

It is expected the agreement will be signed in March in Chile.

This is a multi-billion-dollar win for Australian jobs. Australian workers, businesses, farmers and consumers will benefit.

The Government took a leadership role and worked hard to deliver the TPP because it will generate more Australian exports and create new Australian jobs.

The TPP will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs in a trade zone with a combined GDP of $13.7 trillion. The agreement will deliver 18 new free trade agreements between the TPP parties. For Australia that means new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

In 2016-17, nearly one quarter of Australia’s total exports, worth nearly $88 billion, went to TPP countries. This will continue to grow thanks to the significant increase in market access the TPP gives Australian exporters.

Significant wins for Australian exporters under the TPP include:

Accelerated reductions in Japan’s import tariffs on beef, where Australian exports were worth $2 billion in 2015-16 - under TPP-11 even better access.

Elimination of a range of cheese tariffs into Japan covering more than $100 million of trade that was not covered by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.

New quotas for wheat and rice to Japan, and for sugar into Japan, Canada and Mexico.

Elimination of all tariffs on sheep meat, cotton, wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products (manufactured goods).
Eleven separate deals - legally enforceable market access to all these countries.

Investment sets up strong legally enforceable commitments on the way countries regulate foreign investment.

Labor and Bill Shorten declared this trade agreement dead - they urged the Government to walk away. If Labor got their way, Bill Shorten would have shut Australia out of this historic agreement and denied our farmers, manufacturers, services providers and consumers the big wins the TPP delivers.

Unlike Labor, the Government will never give up on measures that create jobs for Australians.


Complaints soar over 'politically incorrect' Australia Day ads

Australia Day advertising campaigns are fraught with danger as society becomes more politically correct and complaints soar, say industry experts.

The Meat & Livestock Australia's lamb advertising campaign, which has been running for 14 years, has again been one of the most controversial Australia Day ads this year.

The lamb ad depicts a stand-off between the left and right in today's society trying to achieve "political correctness" in a dance battle. They eventually unite over a barbecue.

Meat & Livestock Australia has given the ad a Broadway musical makeover this year and, for the second time, does not mention the controversial date of Australia Day.

Swinburne University of Technology, advertising lecturer David Reid, said the 2018 lamb ad was an excellent campaign from a creative point of view but said it was always going to be controversial as it plays on stereotypes.

"Perhaps [brands could actually be looking for controversy as a way to boost sales,] but the agency and brand, Meat & Livestock Australia, understand there is a public debate and they are simply creatively interpreting that," Mr Reid said.

"They understand there is widespread public interest, they're not silly."


Why January 26 should be celebrated

James Paterson

Underlying the campaign to change the date of Australia Day is a barely-concealed hostility to the very existence of Australia as a modern western nation.

If you don’t believe January 26 is a milestone worth celebrating, you are really saying that the arrival of British settlers on that date, and the subsequent creation of modern Australia, is something to be regretted.

This hostility was on full display last week when the Greens leader declared Australia Day “a day that represents the beginning of an ongoing genocide.”

This is an extraordinary position for any Australian to hold, let alone the leader of a political party. It also displays a stunning complacency about how lucky we are to live in such a great country.

According to Di Natale, there’s no reason not to change the date of Australia Day: “We’ll continue to celebrate Australian music, we’ll continue to celebrate all the things that we do, have our barbecues, have our games of beach cricket, but we’ll be able to do it in a way that brings the country together.”

But January 26 wasn’t chosen as Australia Day because of the good weather. It wasn’t picked because it’s suitable for beach cricket and barbecues. Nor did the choice have anything to do with Australian music. January 26 is Australia Day because it marks the birth of our nation.

No one denies that indigenous communities have inhabited our island-continent for thousands of years prior to 1788. They have one of the world’s oldest cultures, which should be celebrated. But it was only with the arrival of the first fleet – and the introduction of a set of cultural and legal institutions with their own storied history – that modern Australia was born.

Without British settlement, Australia would never have inherited the institutions of parliamentary democracy and the common law. We would never have inherited the unique combination of ancient Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian religious traditions, which were forged and refined in the fires of the enlightenment to produce the core elements of western civilisation.

It is these institutions, and this cultural tradition, that has provided the foundation of modern Australia; enabling it to become one of the freest, most prosperous, and harmonious pluralistic societies that has ever existed. It’s why people from around the world have flocked to our shores for generations.

This is why January 26 should be celebrated. It is the genesis of our modern, diverse immigrant society.

There is no debate that indigenous Australians have often been horribly mistreated throughout Australian history. Denying this truth would be morally wrong. But we can acknowledge our imperfect history while also appreciating that it compares favourably to any other nation on earth. And we don’t need to ditch the anniversary of our foundational day to do so. Americans still celebrate their Independence Day on July 4 despite their nation’s own shortcomings in history.

By focusing on these harms at the exclusion of the overwhelming number of things that make Australia a great country, the advocates for changing the date betray their true feelings about the birth of modern Australia – that it was a historical wrong that should never have occurred. By implication, they are arguing that modern Australia should not exist.

The benefits that have come from the settlement of Australia far outweigh the injustices that have been committed.

On top of this implicit hostility to the British settlement of Australia is the lie that changing the date of Australia Day will improve the circumstances of indigenous Australians.

This claim has been powerfully refuted by Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who aptly declared that the Change the Date campaign “isn’t going to make any significant impact whatsoever on the ground for the most marginalised… It’s a complete copout and a pretend way to act like you actually care for Aboriginal people.”

She continued: “If people actually chose to march the streets in the numbers that they do for changing the date but for the victims of family violence towards Aboriginal women and children, we might get around to solving those issues and doing it together.”

January 26 is Australia Day because it marks the birth of Australia as a modern western nation. Not everything about Australia’s history is worth celebrating. But January 26 is the genesis of all the good things, as well as the bad. And the moral ledger is overwhelmingly in the positive.

The only reason to change the date is if you think the European settlement of Australia is not worth celebrating. And if you believe that then you don’t really believe in Australia.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

If there's a genocide against Blackie going on, then no-one told them up here. They're everywhere, in and out of each everyone's houses....with everyone's property.