The Culture Wars: Australian and American Politics in the 21st Century

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Kim Huynh
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 - Australia - 174 pages
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Culture Wars: Australian and American politics in 21st Century argues that 'culture wars' attitudes and conflicts intrinsic to US politics for many decades are also deeply embedded characteristics of Australian political life in the 21st century. It suggests that during the Howard years (1996-2007) culture war antagonisms were forced to the political surface in Australia, albeit without the volatility and violence that sometimes accompanies disputes over religion, social authority, morality, multiculturalism, race, sexuality, education, immigration, feminism and national identity in the United States. With the demise of the Bush Administration (2000-2008) and the Howard Government some have proclaimed an end to the culture wars. This book suggests otherwise, proposing that the Rudd Government's 'me-too' strategy in taking power and the tendency since to remain loyal to the Howard agenda on major areas of public policy is illustrative of its need to retain the support of its socially conservative working class constituency and many of 'Howards battlers' returning to the ALP after the Keating years. This, it argues, will create increasing cultural tensions with its more progressivist sectors. The authors maintain that this tension is not necessarily a negative for Australian politics because it will help further ventilate culture war disputes within Australian society and democratise debates which have been largely the province of educated elites. The book seeks to further this democratisation process and engage the culture wars in broader terms than is anywhere else available in the literature. It provides a historical and intellectual framework for understanding the contemporary culture wars, before traversing some of its many battlegrounds, on foreign policy and national identity, 'the struggle for God', 'family values', immigration, the History Wars and the (Australian) 'Bogan' factor among others.

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