Australian sectionalism

Much excitement about the Rudd government’s proposed resources super profits tax. Interpretations of Australian political behaviour once largely focused on class and religion and more recently on culture but economic ‘sectionalism’ deserves more attention. There is however a flourishing tradition of American scholarship that focuses on ‘sectionalism’. In this approach which best represented by Richard Bensel and Elizabeth Sanders economic and political history are brought together ina quest to identify the deep undercurrents of politics rather than what Richard Bensel calls the ‘surface froth’.  The appropriate units of political analysis are not individuals or classes but economic regions. Voters within these regions act as though they shared a common interest. Bensel’s model explains much of the rightward shift of the South since the 1960s without reference to race, culture or religion. Recent opinion polls suggest a backlash agaisnt the government in mining-dependent Western Australia which is compatible with a sectional model, in which voters identify with local industries, whilst we see former inner-city lefty Anna Bligh as a Queensland Premier taking up the concerns of mining companies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>