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ERIC Number: EJ1080202
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0311-2543
Australian Liberalism, the Middle Class and Public Education from Henry Parkes to John Howard
Sherington, Geoffrey; Campbell, Craig
Education Research and Perspectives, v31 n2 p59-77 2004
In a recent study Judith Brett has raised the "problematic" of the middle class in Australia and its support for a liberal tradition where the prime focus is on the individual citizen rather than the state. She suggests that Australian liberalism was drawn from the heritage of British Protestant dissent with its ethic of independently minded individuals free to follow their own convictions. This tradition became associated in Australia with a "moral middle class"--a "projected moral community"--founded in Protestantism and committed to civic duties of sacrifice and service. It is the post-war destruction of those values that in part explains the rise of "neo-liberalism" which preaches the rights rather than the duties of individuals. The relationship between the individual and the state and its effect on social class formations has long fascinated Australian historians of education studying the creation of colonial schools in the nineteenth century. In this paper the authors present a discursive discussion of Australian liberalism, the middle class and "public education" (with a focus on school education although they make mention of "public" universities). This contribution is not intended as a final word on the subject but rather is suggestive of how under the general influence of British ideologies and culture Australian liberals came to adopt and sponsor public education in the nineteenth century both as a common good as well as being in the interests of their own social class only to abandon such commitments in the late twentieth century with the rise of a more globalised form of market liberalism.
University of Western Australia. 35 Stirling Highway Crawley, Perth, 6009 Australia. Tel: +61-8-6488-2388; Fax: +61-8-6488-1052; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A