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Attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes

The phrase "the lucky country", coined by Donald Horne, is a reference to Australia's weather, lifestyle, and history. Ironically, Horne was using the term to criticize the complacency of Australian society in the early 1960s.

"Mateship", or loyal fraternity is the code of conduct, particularly between men, although more recently also between men and women, stressing equality and friendship. The value of mateship is sourced in the difficulty of subduing the land. Unlike other cultures based on a nurturing landscape that they seek to protect from others, Australian settlers experienced great hardship and had to support each other in order to survive. The battle against the elements led to the nickname of a member of Australia's working class being the "Aussie battler".

An aspect of the mateship culture on language is that Australians have a propensity for the diminutive forms of names e.g. Hargrave → Hargie; Wilkinson → Wilko; John → Johnno; David → Davo; Hogan → Hoges; James → Jimmy → Jim → Jimbo. This is a display of affection and acceptance rather than belittlement.

One result of the prevalence of the "mateship" culture is that Australian society is stringently anti-hierarchical. The Australians are expected to behave with humility and not think of themselves as better than their peers. Any disloyalty to their "mates" is treated harshly, and is known as the tall poppy syndrome, where people who grow greater than their peers are harshly criticized as being narcissistic, or "up themselves". Even the most successful and beautiful Australians are eager to proclaim how ordinary they are. This egalitarian social system makes Australian society appear "laid-back" or relaxed to visitors. Most forms of address are by first name or nickname, and only children regularly use titles such as "Sir" or "Ma'am" for authority figures.

The mateship culture combined with the original convict and then colonial culture has created an irreverence for established authority, particularly if it is pompous or out of touch with reality. Politicians, or "pollies", are generally disliked and distrusted. Politicians who seek to lead must comply to the views of the egalitarian electorate, who will punish any hint of arrogance or glory-seeking behaviour. Voter turnout at elections had in fact been so low that compulsory voting was introduced for the 1925 federal election.

Mirroring the tall poppy syndrome which brings back to Earth the high fliers, the egalitarian Australian society has a traditional Australian support for the "underdog." Australians will show support for those who appear to be at a disadvantage even when the underdog is competing against fellow Australians, such as in sporting events. Related to the underdog is the belief in a "fair go", which is said to be a key part of Australian culture and Australian society. One accepted definition of a "fair go" in this Australian sense is "a chance, an adequate opportunity. Often used to describe a fair and reasonable course of action". The right to "a fair go" has been found to be the most highly rated value on a recent published survey of the opinion of Australian citizens. This belief sustains bipartisan political support for strong public health and education systems in Australia, as well as equal opportunity legislation to ensure people are not excluded from jobs or positions by their race, gender or sexual orientation. This value is frequently cited by politicians who wish to associate themselves or their party with the positive connotations of this notion. There has been ongoing public and political discussion of the place and future of "the fair go" in Australian society. This is especially frequent with reference to economics issues and policies. The call for "a fair go" is also regularly used by advocates wanting to point out groups who have been overlooked or treated unfairly according to the expectations of treatment by the wider community. Recent examples of this include media presentation of the treatment of illegal immigrants asylum seekers, and refugees, as well as the community campaign in support of "a fair go" for the large group of Australian doctors who have been classified as "non-vocationally registered general practitioners" (non-VR GPs), and are subject to discriminatory pay and conditions compared to their colleagues, for identical work.

Australia's geographic isolation has led to the idea of cultural cringe, defined by Australian sociologists Brian Head and James Walter as the belief that one's own country occupies a "subordinate cultural place on the periphery", and that "intellectual standards are set and innovations occur elsewhere". As a consequence, a person who holds this belief is inclined to devalue their own country's cultural, academic and artistic life, and to venerate the "superior" culture of another country.


I. Read the text. Find the words that match the definitions below:

1) a curved stick that flies in a circle and comes back to you when you throw it, first used in Australia;

2) based on the belief that everyone is equal and should have equal rights;

3) poems in general as a form of literature;

4) protection given to someone by a government because they have escaped from fighting or political trouble in their own country;

5)the traditional stories, customs etc of a particular area or country;

6) an extreme unhealthy interest in something or worry about something, which stops you from thinking about anything else;

7) a long wooden musical instrument, played especially in Australia;

8) a short story in the form of a poem or song;

9) a stringed musical instrument;

10) someone who paints pictures;

11) a name given to someone, especially by their friends or family, that is not their real name and is often connected with what they look like or something they have done;

12) the people who are the same age as you, or who have the same type of job, social class etc.;

13) a chance to do something or an occasion when it is easy for you to do something;

14) a person, team etc that is weaker than the others, is always expected to be unsuccessful, and that is often treated badly;

15) someone who has been forced to leave their country, especially during a war, or for political or religious reasons.

Date: 2016-03-03; view: 580

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