Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society

By Robert D. Putnam | Go to book overview

8
AUSTRALIA:
Making the Lucky
Country
EVA COX

This chapter considers how social capital has contributed to giving our diverse populations the skills and incentives to work collectively, through developing a particular form of democracy in Australia. The data suggest this ability may come from a peculiar amalgam of civil society and the state, which has put the public sector and politics at the center of efforts to make a better nation.

The mix of structures, the institutional role of trade unions and religious organizations, and the links between formal and informal community groups provided the social fabric of the new nation when it was forged in 1901. The social fabric held through the twentieth century, with foreign wars, the Great Depression, waves of immigration, and bouts of racism.

Australia, like the United States, was a society of settlers. In Australia, however, the country was claimed as terra nullius, unowned territory, by the British Crown, formally denying land rights to the indigenous peoples. Federation by civil process in 1901 owed nothing to any war for independence, nor any civil war. The Federal House of Representatives, the chief arm of government, is elected from local single-member electorates, whereas the Federal Senate is elected from the states at large, following a republican model more like that of the United States. 1 Most of the states have two houses of parliament as well, which can suggest that

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Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Democracies in Flux 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Role of Government and the Distribution of Social Capital 21
  • 2 - Bridging the Privileged and the Marginalized? 59
  • 3 - From Membership to Advocacy 103
  • 4 - Old and New Civic and Social Ties in France 137
  • 5 - The German Case 189
  • 6 - Social Capital in Spain from the 1930s to the 1990s 245
  • 7 - Social Capital in the Social Democratic State 289
  • 8 - Making the Lucky Country 333
  • 9 - Broadening the Basis of Social Capital in Japan 359
  • Conclusion 393
  • Notes 417
  • Contributors 493
  • Index 497
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