Vibrant, oppositional culture : the media and Australian political culture, 1880-1910

Haeusler, Peter 2005, Vibrant, oppositional culture : the media and Australian political culture, 1880-1910, in AMT 2005 : Politics, media, history : refereed papers from the Australian Media Traditions Conference 2005, University of Canberra, Canberra, A.C.T., pp. 1-14.

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Title Vibrant, oppositional culture : the media and Australian political culture, 1880-1910
Author(s) Haeusler, Peter
Conference name Australian Media Traditions Conference (2005 : Old Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T.)
Conference location Canberra, A.C.T.
Conference dates 24-25 November 2005
Title of proceedings AMT 2005 : Politics, media, history : refereed papers from the Australian Media Traditions Conference 2005
Editor(s) Sykes, Jolyon
Publication date 2005
Start page 1
End page 14
Publisher University of Canberra
Place of publication Canberra, A.C.T.
Summary The notion that Australia has an entrenched “utilitarian political culture” has predominated in representations of political life and political culture in this country. Ostensibly, political life has been characterised above all by materialism and pragmatism, largely devoid of meaningful debate over ideas. There has, however, been a growing recognition that Australian political culture has been richer, more complex and less settled than commonly believed.

This paper examines the experience in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Australia, focussing on the role of the media in tandem with a burgeoning reading public as integral elements of a vibrant oppositional culture. Here, a passion for knowledge and self-improvement combined with a strong sense that cultivation of the mind was intrinsic to goals of moral, political and social development existed. The print media was centrally important in catering to and stimulating the interests, outlooks and aspirations of a diverse community of readers. Radical papers and journals jostled for attention alongside the mainstream press, supported by a spreading carpet of Mechanics Institutes and Schools of Arts, bookshops stocking a vast array of titles, and a comparatively large and increasingly professionalised literary-artistic intelligentsia.

Many different publics were being engaged and indeed constituted, from the very pragmatic to the strongly idealistic; from anarchists through to conservatives; from the strongly nationalistic through to those deeply loyal to God and Empire. Moreover, potentially quite complex patterns of understanding and attachment were being stimulated during this time. Taking clearer account of the media’s contribution to intellectual and literary pursuits during this period increases our understanding of the diverse and often contradictory traditions that have been part of Australian political culture.
Language eng
Field of Research 160601 Australian Government and Politics
HERDC Research category E2 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30014613

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