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What is 'Australian'? Knowledge and Attitudes Among a Gallery of Contemporary Australians
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-16, 14:10 authored by Phillips, T, Smith, P
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.
Publication titleAustralian Journal of Political Science
Department/SchoolSchool of Social Sciences