Review of David Denemark, Gabrielle Meagher, Shaun Wilson, Mark Western and Timothy Phillips (Eds), Australian Social Attitudes 2: citizenship, work and aspirations.

Author:Betts, Katharine
 
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This is a comprehensive, clearly written sequel to Australian Social Attitudes: The First Report. (1) Like the earlier volume, it is based on the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, this time the one fielded in 2005 (the previous one was in 2003). The 2005 survey focused on the themes of citizenship and community life, law and authority, work, attitudes to globalisation, taxation and social services. The current volume concentrates on citizenship, work and the aspirational voter. But the book's overall purpose is to enhance democratic policy making by increasing Australia's knowledge of itself.

How do Australians understand the concept of citizenship? Do they believe they can participate in political decision-making effectively and do they trust their political institutions, including political parties? Clive Bean and David Denemark find that many Australians lack a sense of political efficacy and trust, possibly because they think the major parties do not offer them a real choice (73). Tod Donovan and others compare Australians' attitudes with those of citizens in other democracies and find that Australians trust their political systems more than do most others.

Timothy Phillips and Robert Holton then explore support for globalisation. Here they seem handicapped by a lack of good measures. They approach the problem at two levels, taking support for ties with Asia as support for globalisation at the public level and a willingness to show respect and tolerance when 'you meet people for the first time' as support for globalisation at the interpersonal level. This allows them to find three groups: cosmopolitans who score highly on both dimensions; 'steadfast nationalists' who are wary on both; and 'cautious inter-nationalists' who are low on the former and high on the latter (120-122). This third group is predominately female, older, religious, less likely to use the internet and more likely to live outside metropolitan areas. It does seem possible that the second set of questions measures norms of interpersonal politeness rather than attitudes to globalisation.

What about work? Bill Martin finds that Australians value the extrinsic rewards of work: job security, high income, and possibilities for advancement, but most especially job security. This was rated very important by 58 per cent, as opposed to 24 per cent who said opportunities for advancement were very important and 15 per cent who said high income was very important (127). But respondents...

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