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Bushrangers: Ned Kelly and Australian identity


Tranter, B and Donoghue, J, Bushrangers: Ned Kelly and Australian identity, Journal of Sociology, 44, (4) pp. 373-390. ISSN 1440-7833 (2008) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2008 The Australian Sociological Association

DOI: doi:10.1177/1440783308097127


Be they highwaymen, bandits or bushrangers, outlaws are mythical figures celebrated across a variety of cultures. Australians' knowledge of colonial outlaws is examined by asking a national sample of adults if they could name four 'bushrangers'. A large majority identified Ned Kelly and a substantial proportion Ben Hall, although less than a quarter could name four bushrangers and one in five were unable to name any bushrangers at all. Australian-born, middle-class, middle-aged, politically informed people who live in Queensland or NSW were the most knowledgeable, with the educational achievement findings suggesting that bushrangers occupy the realm of 'middle-brow' taste. Ned Kelly is confirmed as Australia's best-known colonial figure and folk hero. Immortalized in Sidney Nolan's paintings and mythologized in various cultural milieux, Kelly has transcended bushranging to symbolize a romantic and rebellious aspect of Australian identity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Australia, bushrangers, national identity, Ned Kelly, outlaws
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Citizenship and national identity
UTAS Author:Tranter, B (Professor Bruce Tranter)
UTAS Author:Donoghue, J (Dr Jed Donoghue)
ID Code:54959
Year Published:2008
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2009-03-03
Last Modified:2015-02-11
Downloads:4 View Download Statistics

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