Italian-Australian activist Anna Moo talks about her attraction to social justice and how she worked with a group of migrant women in the 1970s to achieve policy changes on migrant women’s reproductive health. In the video, Moo says:

We really wanted to connect back with the women that we were advocating with. They were not aware of health services that might have been available to them. The W.I.C.H. [Women in Industry Contraception and Health] education project was developed in conjunction with Australian women and women from many different backgrounds with the support of a number of organisations.

And the fantastic aspect of that education kit is the fact that it was taken to the factories by women who were themselves from multicultural backgrounds. Each worker spoke a language, a community language, whereby women could actually ask questions and be supported through the discussions. You know, what’s really amazing is that we still have Women in Industry Contraception and Health, it’s called a different name but it’s still that organisation… 

It’s really a testament to what women can do together.

Source: Immigration Museum.

Share the Spirit Festival, Celebrating Survival Day #Melbourne, #Australia #Indigenous (at Treasury Gardens)

Gen Y, Literary Elitism & “Serious Culture”

Melbourne private school teacher and literary curmudgeon Christopher Bantick argues that Gen Y don’t understand “serious” Australian culture. Writing for The Age, Bantick believes that Gen Y’s engagement with popular culture over the classics will lead our nation to decline:

The vanity that is lauded as virtue pervades the culture to a corrosive extent. Young people have lost the capacity to actually know when something is art, and worthy. Instead, they hang on every word of their latest celeb mouthing inanities….

So who’s at fault? Schools need to do more about bringing a little elitism back into the awareness of culture. High culture: fine art, opera, serious drama and music that requires patience and understanding needs to be embedded into the curriculum.

In Australia, elitism is a dirty word. But maybe our jingoistic egalitarianism has gone too far with the sense of cultural equity. Who knows what a sonnet is, a partita, a motet, or who was Goethe or Christopher Marlowe? As for ballet, forget it. There are many other examples.

Bantick celebrates the fact that he teaches “classically demanding literature” at a private school, adding that his course is “elite, consciously so.”

Classical texts are worthy subjects of education for sure. Yet Bantick seems to be wilfully ignorant of the sociology of Australia’s education system. The arts that he celebrates are important, but no less so than newer and alternative modes of literature and art. Bantick gives an off-hand comment that most ballet, opera and theatre performances are less expensive than a Rolling Stones concert. This is totally ignorant of the fact that not all Australians can afford Rolling Stones concerts, let alone young kids from poor or working class backgrounds.

Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell and colleagues have shown the various ways in which the education system is already set up to favour the elite interests of the ruling class. Without a trace of irony, Bantick is claiming to support a better education system to maintain Australian culture, without specifying what this means: largely White, upper class, Anglo-Australian culture. Part of the way in which wealth is maintained is through elite cultural activities that are out of reach for the average, working-class Australian child.

Should the classical arts be made more available to Australian youth? Yes! Should this be at the expense and ridicule of other artistic and literary expressions? No!

Bantick’s elitist rant completely disregards that vapid celebrity culture is not a youth monolith. Adults also participate in this form of entertainment. Yet celebrity culture is not the only type of popular culture that youth participate in and create. Young Indigenous Australians and migrant-Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds do not see themselves in mainstream Australian culture. They find ingenious ways to remix culture, using technology and hybrid expressions of Australian and their minority identities. There are comics, blogs, vlogs, street art, zines and various other elements to youth culture that speak to marginalised youth who currently have no access to nor representation within mainstream culture.

Fellow teacher and writer Craig Hildebrand-Burke argues against Bantick. In a passionate defence of Gen Y’s engagement with literary texts, Hildebrand-Burke sees culture as a fluid and meaningful process.

This rigid, snobbish attitude toward education is damaging our future generations through the stagnancy of curriculum authorities, unable to distinguish the differences and merits between highbrow and lowbrow, new and old. Teachers like Christopher Bantick are indicators that too much of education is populated by those afraid and dismissive of the young and resistant to change. As a new school year begins, we cannot afford to let education in Australia slide back into archaic elitism, nor allow our children be castigated as moronic and uncultured by those charged with the duty to foster and educate the young.

Hildebrand-Burke’s article is thoughtful and inspired. Read it in full on SBS News.

#Sociology of #community: A group who follow a social structure within a society (culture, norms, values, status). They may work together to organise social life within a particular place,  
or they may be bound by a sense of belonging sustained across time and space. We start students thinking about community using the work of Ferdinand Toennies. He used the concept of gemienschaft to study the close social ties in rural and pre-industrial societies, where everyone knows one another and bonds overlap. For example your local grocerer is also your neighbour, you socialise together and you may be their children’s teacher. Gesellschaft is the opposite. Toennies used this to describe urban, post-industrial communities where people don’t necessarily know their neighbours and locals have specialised roles. You may not know your grocerer by name or associate outside their shop. Toennies sees the former as an ideal community and the latter as a problem. Durkheim and other sociologists have argued against the idealism of this typology as close-knit communities are more likely to adhere to traditions that demand strict obedience and reinforce individual oppression. Debates about community continue to this day, affecting the work of applied sociologists who address disadvantage. Some communities are held up as an ideal and so resources are allocated to groups who appear to conform to policy definitions of a “good community.” Other communities are stigmatised so programs either neglect their needs or focus on their deficiencies rather than their strenghts.

I’ve got a couple of posts and videos on community #work soon. Until then, have a think about how definitions of community might affect #AppliedSociology. For example, I took this photo over the weekend at the #Hispanic Street Festival in #Melbourne #Australia. This event is one of the ways that #multiculturalism officially recognises and supports minority communities- by sponsoring community shows revolving around food and music.  Social welfare, political recognition and other community issues of difference gain less social attention and funding. #visualsociology #society #socialscience #latin High-res

#Sociology of #community: A group who follow a social structure within a society (culture, norms, values, status). They may work together to organise social life within a particular place,
or they may be bound by a sense of belonging sustained across time and space. We start students thinking about community using the work of Ferdinand Toennies. He used the concept of gemienschaft to study the close social ties in rural and pre-industrial societies, where everyone knows one another and bonds overlap. For example your local grocerer is also your neighbour, you socialise together and you may be their children’s teacher. Gesellschaft is the opposite. Toennies used this to describe urban, post-industrial communities where people don’t necessarily know their neighbours and locals have specialised roles. You may not know your grocerer by name or associate outside their shop. Toennies sees the former as an ideal community and the latter as a problem. Durkheim and other sociologists have argued against the idealism of this typology as close-knit communities are more likely to adhere to traditions that demand strict obedience and reinforce individual oppression. Debates about community continue to this day, affecting the work of applied sociologists who address disadvantage. Some communities are held up as an ideal and so resources are allocated to groups who appear to conform to policy definitions of a “good community.” Other communities are stigmatised so programs either neglect their needs or focus on their deficiencies rather than their strenghts.

I’ve got a couple of posts and videos on community #work soon. Until then, have a think about how definitions of community might affect #AppliedSociology. For example, I took this photo over the weekend at the #Hispanic Street Festival in #Melbourne #Australia. This event is one of the ways that #multiculturalism officially recognises and supports minority communities- by sponsoring community shows revolving around food and music. Social welfare, political recognition and other community issues of difference gain less social attention and funding. #visualsociology #society #socialscience #latin

#Paella at the #Hispanic Street Festival, Johnson Street, #Melbourne #Australia. The #food is by #Spanish Gourmet Caterers. #Latin

#VisualSociology of the #Western #Suburbs of #Melbourne, #Australia: Caroline Springs is a relatively new area that had a bad reputation about a decade a go. First because the media sensationalised illegal cock fighting as something that was endemic of its residents. It wasn’t; it was a tiny minority of unethical people treating animals illegally. Second, I was struck by the number of people who lived in the longer established outer suburbs in the West who looked down on the families who moved into these new estates. There was both a class & racist undertone as it was predominantly young non-English speaking #migrant background and #WorkingClass people who first flocked to this area. Now this suburb has expanded greatly and it is relatively expensive compared to prices only a few years a go. It will be interesting to see whether this area becomes gentrified in the near future with house prices ever increasing. I’m ever fascinated with the need to construct artificial lakes in these new estates. This #lake is a central feature along the centre of the shopping precinct, compete with #ducks & a “do not swim” warning. #sociology #CALD #community #socialscience #migration #carolinesprings #water High-res

#VisualSociology of the #Western #Suburbs of #Melbourne, #Australia: Caroline Springs is a relatively new area that had a bad reputation about a decade a go. First because the media sensationalised illegal cock fighting as something that was endemic of its residents. It wasn’t; it was a tiny minority of unethical people treating animals illegally. Second, I was struck by the number of people who lived in the longer established outer suburbs in the West who looked down on the families who moved into these new estates. There was both a class & racist undertone as it was predominantly young non-English speaking #migrant background and #WorkingClass people who first flocked to this area. Now this suburb has expanded greatly and it is relatively expensive compared to prices only a few years a go. It will be interesting to see whether this area becomes gentrified in the near future with house prices ever increasing. I’m ever fascinated with the need to construct artificial lakes in these new estates. This #lake is a central feature along the centre of the shopping precinct, compete with #ducks & a “do not swim” warning. #sociology #CALD #community #socialscience #migration #carolinesprings #water

#VisualSociology of Avondale Heights, #Melbourne. The 2011 #Census by the Australian Bureau of #Statistics shows that Avondale Heights has a slightly older population (median age of 43 years versus 37 years for all of #Australia). These residents are slightly more likely to be married (55%), working full time in paid employment (62%), and a fewer proportion studying (24%). Just over 53% of residents are born in Australia. The rest are from #Italy (11.5%), #Vietnam (5%), Greece (3%), Croatia (2%) & India (2%). This is what interests me about this area: its diversity. Earlier waves of migrants settled here, mostly from Southern Europe. They have been upwardly mobile, with their children moving into the professional class. Over 66% of residents have two parents born overseas & a further 9.4% have at least one parent who is a #migrant. Together this means that 75% of residents are either first or second generation migrants. More than half of residents are #Catholic (51%). This is twice the national rate (25%). #sociology #migration #culture #Suburbs #society High-res

#VisualSociology of Avondale Heights, #Melbourne. The 2011 #Census by the Australian Bureau of #Statistics shows that Avondale Heights has a slightly older population (median age of 43 years versus 37 years for all of #Australia). These residents are slightly more likely to be married (55%), working full time in paid employment (62%), and a fewer proportion studying (24%). Just over 53% of residents are born in Australia. The rest are from #Italy (11.5%), #Vietnam (5%), Greece (3%), Croatia (2%) & India (2%). This is what interests me about this area: its diversity. Earlier waves of migrants settled here, mostly from Southern Europe. They have been upwardly mobile, with their children moving into the professional class. Over 66% of residents have two parents born overseas & a further 9.4% have at least one parent who is a #migrant. Together this means that 75% of residents are either first or second generation migrants. More than half of residents are #Catholic (51%). This is twice the national rate (25%). #sociology #migration #culture #Suburbs #society

#VisualSociology of the #Western #suburbs of #Melbourne: Canning Reserve, Avondale Heights. Okay so Avondale is technically a Northern municipality but it’s a stone’s throw from Maribyrnong. This photo is of the giant #steel #fish, the Seychelles Blenny. It featured on Australia’s 10 cent #stamp in 2003 and a sculpture of it was used in the 2006 #Olympics ceremony in Melbourne. #sociology #Australia High-res

#VisualSociology of the #Western #suburbs of #Melbourne: Canning Reserve, Avondale Heights. Okay so Avondale is technically a Northern municipality but it’s a stone’s throw from Maribyrnong. This photo is of the giant #steel #fish, the Seychelles Blenny. It featured on Australia’s 10 cent #stamp in 2003 and a sculpture of it was used in the 2006 #Olympics ceremony in Melbourne. #sociology #Australia

#VisualSociology of the #Western #suburbs of #Melbourne. Artificial #lake behind a #ShoppingCentre. Like so many new shopping centres and estates in this area, we must have #water and #ducks surrounding us. The asthetic presumably brings us closer to #nature and beautifies the ever expanding buildings. #sociology #video #WaterGardens #Victoria #Australia

#Sociology of #streetart: the sacred versus the profane. Love #Melbourne’s #graffiti #culture: the divinity of Ganesh next to lurid creatures and painted rubbish bins. All so profoundly beautiful, in the majestic Hosier Lane. I’ve been working on a post about the socialisation of street artists. Terrific early research from New York in the early 80s show how street artists progress from tagging to building their reputations on murals. The research focuses on how novices learn from experienced artists as well as the problems that emerge between these networks once individuals start selling their work. #Australia #australianart #art High-res

#Sociology of #streetart: the sacred versus the profane. Love #Melbourne’s #graffiti #culture: the divinity of Ganesh next to lurid creatures and painted rubbish bins. All so profoundly beautiful, in the majestic Hosier Lane. I’ve been working on a post about the socialisation of street artists. Terrific early research from New York in the early 80s show how street artists progress from tagging to building their reputations on murals. The research focuses on how novices learn from experienced artists as well as the problems that emerge between these networks once individuals start selling their work. #Australia #australianart #art