Cultures of complaint - An ethnography of rural racial rivalry

Sage Publications Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Sociology, 2006, 42 (4), pp. 429 - 445
Issue Date:
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The article was inspired by ethnographic observation of interaction, arguments and ideologies in Bourke, New South Wales, and the contrast with the nation's public debates. Whereas the prevailing national orthodoxy accords Aborigines the status of injured victims of history, local Whites claim present injury from these same victims. The former diagnosis tends towards a dismissal of rural whitefellas' complaints as 'redneck' racism, but the moral and political implications become more complicated and contentious the closer one gets to the lived realities of race relations. I argue that there is a symbolic rivalry about the contrasting moral worth of racial identities that are built around experiences of derogation and desperation. Finally I discuss two major weaknesses in our intellectual imaginations concerning the relationships between Australian citizens with Indigenous and immigrant origins.
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