Article Review: “Whatever happened to the classless society?”
This article (McCamish, Aug 2009) questioned the popular view that Australian society is classless, citing a number of examples of attitudes that suggest that view is not valid. The first example is of a “superior” young woman thrust into an ordinary public school, where she finds the other “povvo” (playground slang for the poorer type of people) girls way beneath her, describing them as “skanks.” McCamish suggested that whilst class differences do exist in Australia, for most people they are not considered important as (say) in Great Britain.
Much of McCamish’s article discusses Australian class differences in terms of affluence and recognizable trappings of wealth such as the latest model motor cars, the schools children attend, the home location, and the newspapers read. He also discussed in some detail the widening gap between the top earners compared with the “average” Australian wage earner or even the one third of adults receiving government financial support.
He makes the point that those on lower incomes are actually more likely to be sick and experience other health problems, and that the effect seems to be more pronounced the greater the disparity between the top earners and “the masses”, but it does appear that McCamish’s definition of “class” on which his article is based is more about degrees of personal wealth rather than differences of actual class. After all, even the wealthiest multi-billionaire could be considered by others as a person of low class. Overall, the article does not provide a great deal of insight into what most would understand as the meaning of “class” within society. Although the author made some valid points about the current situation within Australia’s society, such as the need to improve some of the worst schools, the article as it stands could perhaps better have been entitled: “The Wealth Gap in Australian Society.” Or has McCamish reflected the reality of how “class” is actually defined in Australia?
McCamish, T. (Aug. 2009). “Whatever happened to the classless society?” The Age. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/national/whatever-happened-to-the-classless-society-20090815-elt2.html