Publication Date: Feb 2022
RRP: $39.95
ISBN: 9781922464897
Format: Paperback
Size: 153mm x 234mm
Pages: 280
Category: Sociology

Class in Australia

Edited by Steven Threadgold and Jessica Gerrard

‘This is a powerful account of the economic roots of class in Australia.’
Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street 

‘This book is a powerful and vibrant study of the complex realities of class in modern Australia. It brings to light the intersection of class with gender, race, and the ongoing dispossession of First Nations peoples, and dispels the myth that class division is not relevant to the contemporary age.’ Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary

‘Class in Australia is a timely provocation to social scientists to rethink class, offering a series of deep reflections on the complexities and opportunities of class-based analysis. An inspiring collection of authors brings new questions, conceptual frameworks and methodologies to class analysis. Acknowledging that the dynamics of settler colonialism are central, this collection is positioned to invigorate familiar approaches focusing on education, migration, and labour, gender, sexuality, and cultural representations. The new class analysis starts here.’ Johanna Wyn, Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, The University of Melbourne.

‘From colonial inequality to Upper Middle Bogan, this captivating volume dives deep into how class has shaped our nation. Through studies of the unemployed, warehouse workers, unions and school students, this book presents the finest analysis of class that Australian sociology has to offer. Read it to get a richer understanding of poverty, a stronger sense of social status, and a nuanced analysis of how gender, race and sexuality intersect with class.’ Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP

‘Class is central to Australians’ lives but it is rarely analysed or even talked about. In this book Threadgold and Gerrard have pulled together the foremost thinkers on class, intersectionality and prejudice in Australia.’ Hon Dr Meredith Burgmann AM

‘This is a must-read collection for anyone interested in the topic of class in Australia. This collection digs deeps and engages with relevant and timely discussions about class using both an historical and contemporary lens. For anyone who is teaching, studying, or writing about class as theory or method, this book will open up rich and productive conversations. Class is an enduring problematic, both as a descriptor, heuristic device or theoretical framework. This collection aptly responds to this problematic, engaging with class across multiple intersections including gender, race and space. It taps into class as symbolic and ephemeral whilst also highlighting the material, tangible divisions that it produces.’ Dr. Emma Rowe, Senior Lecturer in Education, Deakin University

‘..especially welcome….thoughtful and invigorating…’ Sean Scalmer, Australian Book Review


Two decades since it was claimed that class is dead, social, economic and cultural inequalities are rising. Though Australia is often described as a ‘lucky country’ with a strong economy, we are witness to intensifying inequality with entrenched poverty and the growth of precarious and insecure labour. The disconnect of the rusted-on Labor voter and the rise of far-right politics suggest there is an urgent need to examine the contemporary functions of class relations.

Class analysis in Australia has always had a contested position. The prominence of scholarship from the UK and US has often meant class analysis in Australia has had little to say about its settler colonial history and the past and present dynamics of race and racism that are deeply embedded in social and labour relations. In the post-war turn away from Marx and subsequent embracing of Bourdieu, much sociological research on class has focused on explorations of consumption and culture. Longstanding feminist critiques of the absence of gendered labour in class analysis also pose challenges for understanding and researching class.

At a time of deepening inequality, Class in Australia brings together a range of new and original research for a timely examination of class relations, labour exploitation, and the changing formations of work in contemporary Australian society.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Situating Class Analysis in Australia

1. Class in Australia: Public Debates and Research Directions in a Settler Colony
Jessica Gerrard and Steven Threadgold

2. Contradictory Locations of Class
Greg Noble

3. The Great Divide: Property Relations and the Foundational Dynamics of Settler-colonial Society
Barry Morris

4. Some Comments on Class Analysis
Mark Western

Part 2: Class, Labour and Employment

5. Rethinking Class Through the History of Professions
Hannah Forsyth

6. Advancing Debate on Precarious Workers and Class Interests: Evidence from Warehouse Workers in Australia
Tom Barnes and Jasmine Ali

7. Workers in Waiting? Work Ethic, Productive Intensities, Class and Unemployment
Jessica Gerrard and David Farrugia

Part 3: Cultural Formations of Class

8. Bogan Talk: What It Says (and Can’t Say) about Class in Australia
Deborah Warr, Keith Jacobs and Henry Paternoster

9. Struggle Street: Poverty Porn?
Penny Rossiter

10. Whiteness, Neoliberal Feminism and Social Class in Australian Ru-Rom: Bridie’s Choice
Barbara Pini and Laura Rodriguez Castro

Part 4: Class and Education

11. Revisiting the Making Modern Lives Project: Grappling with Schooling and Class as a Longitudinal and Psychosocial Process
Julie McLeod and Lyn Yates

12. The Transforming Middle: Schooling Markets, Morality and Racialisation Within Australia’s Middle Class
Rose Butler, Christina Ho and Eve Vincent

Part 5: Interviews

13. Reflections on Class in Australia: An Interview with Larissa Behrendt
Larissa Behrendt, Jessica Gerrard and Steven Threadgold

14. Reflections on Class in Australia: An interview with Raewyn Connell
Raewyn Connell, Steven Threadgold and Jessica Gerrard

Geraldine Doogue chats with Steven Threadgold about Class in Australia on ABC Saturday Extra

Steven Threadgold takes on the myth of Aussie egalitarianism on ABC Radio National Extra

Steven Threadgold

Steven Threadgold is Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Newcastle. His research focuses on youth and class, with particular interests in unequal and alternate work and career trajectories, underground and independent creative scenes, and cultural formations of taste. Steve is Co-Director...
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Jessica Gerrard

Jessica Gerrard is Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne. She researches the changing formations and lived experiences of social inequalities in relation to education, activism, work and unemployment. Gerrard works across the disciplines of sociology, history and policy studies...
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