Critically analyze the following claim: ‘Class is no longer relevant in Australia in the twenty-first century.’
The relevance of social class in Australia has been disputed as to whether it still exists. There are a lot of arguments and opinions on this issue but class inequality is evidently still in force in twenty first Australia. Contemporary Australian society discriminates the difference of social classes through economic status, education and geographic location. The power struggle in social class is analyzed in theorist Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” where the Bourgeois (ruling class) and the Proletarians (working class) are discussed as to how classes are shaped in societies which can then be applied in twenty first century Australia. Bill Martin’s “Class” discusses the distinction between working and middle class in Australia today compared to a generation ago in accordance to materials, geographic location and employment. In Australia, economic status, employment and property ownership refers to what the person earns and owns which are very important factors in determining social classes. A person’s economic status is determined by their employment and employment in Australia is classified in white and blue collar workers. The white collar workers fall into the ruling class category where they obtain degrees, maintain high wage and use their skills/knowledge from the degree to obtain an office job wearing white dress shirts (which is where the word white collar is derived from). Whereas the blue collar workers fall into the low-middle class category, where the workers are employed as tradesmen or laborers as they have physical work with standard wage which don’t require high qualifications. These two main tiers of collars are implemented in twenty first Australia which is a fundamental aspect of determining social class as the white collar workers have wealth putting them in power of the working class which verifies that there is underlying capitalism. In relation to economic status, property ownership is another fundamental aspect of determining a person’s class in Australia as it defines the person’s wealth. Property can consist of houses, investments, cars, savings accounts, land and any materials with value. Property ownership was Marx’s main argument in determining social class as, “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society,” (Marx 771) which argues that if the person doesn’t have some form of ownership then they didn’t have resources for production which would classify them as a laborer putting them in the working class. Property ownership distinguishes the two classes from each other in Australia as it is seen through the works of the Labor party as it has a large group of people in the working class leaving them to manage capitalism. Marx’s infamous quote, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” (Marx 79) makes it clear that class struggle is needed to create the division of classes. Jim Kemeny writes “Australian capitalism highlights the way in which the Australian ruling class is likely to differ from those of other middle-sized capitalist societies,” (Kemeny 103) where the ruling class in Australia is weakly developed in retrospect to the economy. Capitalists have the capital and the workers own their power to labor which only receives one third of their produce as the other two thirds are taken by the capitalists which keeps the classes separated; this is evident in Australia due to technological advancements where the laborers are being replaced by technology putting people out of jobs which explains how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This division of labour in Australia can also be analysed by sociologist Max Weber as he thought Marx’s theory was too simplistic, indeed there were different classes...
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