Class, capital, and identity in Australian society

Author/editor: Biddle, N & Sheppard, J.
Published in (Monograph or Journal): Australian Journal of Political Science
Year published: 2017


Despite a comparatively ‘flat’ social structure and lack of obvious class-based cleavages, Australian society is stratified by objective, multidimensional measures of social class. Using data from a July 2015 survey of a random sample of Australian citizens, latent class analysis identifies six class types in Australian society, based on the distributions of cultural, social, and economic capital among respondents. The resulting classes are categorised as ‘precariat’, ‘ageing workers’, ‘new workers’, ‘mobile middle’, ‘emerging affluent’, and ‘established affluent’. The precariat is characterised by high numbers of retired pensioners, the ageing worker class the highest mean age, and the new worker class by its low rate of unemployment. The established middle class accounts for one quarter of the adult population, while the emergent affluent class has the youngest mean age, and the established affluent is the most advantaged. We also show Australians are acutely aware of their class identity.

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