Inequality in Australia

Inequality in Australia

Inequality in Australia

Inequality in Australia


Challenging traditional conceptions and providing a new critical perspective, the authors provide a comprehensive historical record of inequality in Australia, and show how that account no longer adequately explains the new and different forms of inequality. As Australian society has changed, they argue, new forms of inequality have emerged, influencing the country's experience of identity, embodiment and politics. The book presents a critical overview of contemporary inequality suitable for undergraduates.


At an early stage of our childhood development we all probably cried: 'That's not fair!' It might have referred to a feeling that one of our siblings had been apportioned more of a good than us; or that one of our friends was allowed to stay up later than us; or that we were not allowed to watch a televised event when someone else was. Regardless of the context, these illustrations reveal that at a very early age we become conscious of the way resources or favours are distributed unevenly, or at least in ways that do not accord with our needs or wants, or with what we perceive as our rights.

These experiences or feelings of inequality remain with us as we pass through the process of childhood socialisation and enter adulthood. While our earlier feelings might have focused on dimensions of inequality relating to age, later we can experience these same feelings in a range of ways, from gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, religion and class. We often become more conscious of these dimensions as we grow apart from childhood friends. Some of us develop means for justifying why some people receive more than others; some resign themselves to the situation that the world as we experience it cannot be changed; others maintain a passionate belief that resources should and can be distributed more equally.

Controversies surrounding inequality manifest themselves most overtly at the political level, and towards the end of this book this level will be explored in more depth. However, before we attempt to reinterpret some recent Australian political debates surrounding inequality, we want to suggest that inequality affects us at more personal levels as well, or to put it another way, that the politics of inequality affects the way we perceive our bodies and construct our identities.

This claim–that inequality affects the very core of our being, the way we look upon ourselves, the way others look upon us, the way we experience and . . .

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