Australian Society Egalitarian Or Not

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Question :



Is Australia an egalitarian society?  Your answer should analyse Marx OR Weber's ideas on class and use examples from one or more of the modules studied this session.

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Answer :


The social structure of Australia is not a mono-dimensional structure because of its multicultural background. Although democracy prevails over the country with promises of equality, this country is not devoid of classes and it cannot be considered to be a classless society as well. But mostly the prevalent social structure of this country is popularly known to be classless one which is free of all sorts of discriminations (Mays & Marston, 2016). It is popularly known that Australia does not have a class system but a look at the recent financial reports contradicts this dominant idea. A completely ideas emerges from a detailed analysis of the financial situations, social networks and cultural habits. In this essay different dimensions of Australian social structure have been identified and analyzed along with that the main argument of the essay focuses solely on the fact that whether the current social structure of the country can be considered to be Egalitarian or the story is something else. 

Social dimensions of the country

According to Max Weber social inequality can be measured through different parameters which can be predominantly distinguished to be:

  • Wealth
  • Power
  • Prestige

Egalitarian society is widely known to be a utopian classless social paradigm where no individual or group acquires more wealth, prestige or power than any other. Thus it is completely negates the idea of rank or Stratified societies (Szelenyi, 2016). In Egalitarian Utopia everyone belongs to a same social level and has equal access to positions of esteem and respect. Hoansi of the kalahari region or Hadza of Tanzania can exemplify the idea of Egalitarian society (Hjellbrekke, J., Jarness, V., & Korsnes, 2015).

It is evident that over the period of past twenty five years Australian government has reduced the discrimination against the minority groups and along with that life expectancies have increased. Families with apparent lower income rates have equal share in the country’s increasing prosperity and the rate of participation is strikingly higher than other English speaking “reforming” nations such as US and UK. But the primary question is that has the discrimination been reduced enough that the society can be called an Egalitarian one?

The class conflict in Australia is not as prominent as Britain where the foundation of the society is based on the longstanding social hierarchies. Compared to Britain Australia does have a flatter social structure (Mays, J., & Marston, 2016). Based on the economic position, cultural habits and social networks the existence of five different classes has been established. The majority of the Australians considered themselves to be either a part of working class or middle class. If we consider distinguishing the class structure with the framework of Bourdieu’s concept of social class the citizens of any society accumulate social and cultural form of capital (Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, 2013). Australian society can be predominantly distinguished in five distinct classes based on the economic, social and cultural constraints. This division can be labeled as 

  • Established working class who has the lowest household incomes belong to the group with relatively lower occupational prestige. 
  • Established middle class or the people who earn close to average household incomes and their occupational prestige is closer to the mean.
  • Emergent affluent are the people who have significantly turned the benefits of education into the means of household income.
  • Mobile middle-class basically originates from the middle class families and they have average educational qualifications.
  • Established affluent class has the shadow of an older generation of emerging affluent Australians. This class predominantly has high household incomes but relatively low occupational prestige.

Unlike Britain Australia does not have distinguished elite or precarious proletariat in the society which indicates that Australians are apparently less precariously placed both culturally and economically than the British. Several experts are of opinion that Australia lacks obvious signs of class. The class structure of the country has made the mobility between different classes comparatively easy. Another notable point is that Australian citizens can not be easily marked as ‘elite’ or ‘working classes’. If particularly the class distinction of this society is considered it has become a nebulous identity (Samson, 2015).

Egalitarian society or not

An evident discrimination is present in the society regarding the refugees and immigrants of the country. According to reports in cities like Sydney and Melbourne Caucasians are discriminated because of the sheer amount of multiculturalism. Considering the Egalitarian society it is evident that equality is an apparently relative term. There is no parity of the term Egalitarian society. Judging a society's Egalitarianism by outcomes indicates that it is hard to consider Australian society as an Egalitarian one. If equality is judged based on the liberties or rights then an argument can be easily made. This evidently identifies the difference between equality of outcomes and equality of opportunity that can be understood by substantive and formal equality. 

Despite of some gains, in different social groups which are not only Bourgeois or Proletariat substantial differences in employment, health outcomes and education still exist. As a result clearly the Weberian notion of class portraits a grimmer aspect of Australian Egalitarianism than the Marxist structure because of a greater possibility of nuance (Samson, 2015). 


It is true that Weber’s idea of class does not completely negate the existence of material factors. It is useful not only to have a clear conception of class but it also effectively depicts the distribution of power in the society. From the above discussion it is evident that Australian society is not completely devoid of class distinction if the social paradigm is taken under consideration. The underlying class division is prevalent in the apparent Egalitarian society.