eCite Digital Repository

Kindness in Australia: an empirical critique of moral decline sociology


Habibis, D and Hookway, N and Vreugdenhil, A, Kindness in Australia: an empirical critique of moral decline sociology, British Journal of Sociology, 67, (3) pp. 395-413. ISSN 0007-1315 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright London School of Economics and Political Science 2016

DOI: doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12194


A new sociological agenda is emerging that interrogates how morality can be established in the absence of the moral certainties of the past but there is a shortage of empirical work on this topic. This article establishes a theoretical framework for the empirical analysis of everyday morality drawing on the work of theorists including Ahmed, Bauman and Taylor. It uses the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes to assess the state and shape of contemporary moralities by asking how kind are Australians, how is its expression socially distributed, and what are the motivations for kindness. The findings demonstrate that Australians exhibit a strong attachment and commitment to kindness as a moral value that is primarily motivated by interiorized sources of moral authority. We argue these findings support the work of theorists such as Ahmed and Taylor who argue authenticity and embodied emotion are legitimate sources of morality in today’s secular societies. The research also provides new evidence that generational changes are shaping understandings and practices of kindness in unexpected ways

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:authenticity, care, ethics, individualization, kindness, morality
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Social change
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Habibis, D (Associate Professor Daphne Habibis)
UTAS Author:Hookway, N (Dr Nicholas Hookway)
UTAS Author:Vreugdenhil, A (Associate Professor Anthea Vreugdenhil)
ID Code:104215
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2015-11-04
Last Modified:2018-02-09

Repository Staff Only: item control page