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What is 'Australian'? Knowledge and Attitudes Among a Gallery of Contemporary Australians


Phillips, T and Smith, P, What is 'Australian'? Knowledge and Attitudes Among a Gallery of Contemporary Australians, Australian Journal of Political Science, 35, (2) pp. 203-224. ISSN 1036-1146 (2000) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1080/713649336


Recent discussions of Australian national identity have focused on official discourses or media representations, or have involved expert readings of popular texts. We know remarkably little about how 'ordinary' Australians (we use this term with considerable reservation) think about their nation. This issue was addressed using focus group methodology with recruitment according to demographic and regional criteria. Groups were asked to identify 'Australian' people, groups, places, activities, events and values. Whilst it was predicted that there would be great variability over the groups, we found remarkable homogeneity. Participants consistently recognised and endorsed traditional, older, past-oriented symbols and images of Australia as predicted in the Australian Studies literature. Progressive, abstract and inclusive concepts of the nation, such as those recently advanced by governmental agencies, were notably absent from discussion. These findings suggest popular concepts of the Australian are robust and have a relative autonomy from the alternative models and discourses proposed by Australia's contending elites.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Phillips, T (Dr Timothy Phillips)
ID Code:26742
Year Published:2000
Web of Science® Times Cited:53
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2003-08-20
Last Modified:2003-08-20

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