Australia has long considered itself as an equal society, with freedom and equal opportunities for all. As our nation was built on convict labour and has provided opportunities for millions of migrants, Australians are proud of themselves for developing what they perceive as an egalitarian society. This essay will examine the meaning of class and how some theories relate it to our society. This essay will also examine people’s perception of class, the mobility of classes and its impact on education, health and crime.
These perceptions will indicate that there is a correlation in classes and that our country has a class system. These class systems are seen in the current education system with a definite social hierarchy, social status and unequal opportunities. The health care system also proves that Australia isn’t classless by having private health insurance, public health system (Medicare) and there are no equal opportunities. Also this essay will argue that there are classes in Australia’s criminal system and there are no equal opportunities based on their classes.
In order to analyse Australia’s class system, it is important to define the key terms. Social construction is a phenomenon that is constructed (or invented) by members of a particular culture or society (Arvantiakis, 2009). Class “is a division in society of a group of people who have similar social and economic status” (Marx, 1847). Arvantiakis defines social status as relying on a person’s social background including where they live, what school they attend, their occupation and who they socialise with (2009). In this way, we can define class as a division in our society determined by wealth and social aspects.
In 1991 Baxter, Emmison and Western defined four types of classes: lower class, working class, middle class and the upper class. Weber’s theory, which was says that “there is more than four types of class” is closer to Australia class structure. Today Australia has more than four types of classes, for example the unemployed make up an extra class. The Australian people identify Australia as having a class system by using class names to represent themselves. Hamilton and Denniss record that 93% of Australian people say that they are from the middle class, plus 6. 4% identifying with the working class people and 0. % with the upper class (2005). Equal opportunities is defined “as a principle of non-discrimination which emphasizes that opportunities in education, employment, advancement, benefits and resource distribution, and other areas should be freely available to everyone irrespective of their age, race, sex, religion, political association, ethnic origin, or any other individual or group characteristic unrelated to ability, performance, and qualification” (Business dictionary). From this definition, this essay will show that Australia doesn’t have equal opportunities, especially in the areas of education, health and crime.