You are here

Traditional class analysis

Traditional class analysis has little, if any, practical significance in 21st century Australia. Class in Australia today transcends occupational categories. What class you belong to is dependent on the amount of disposable income you have access to. Most people are aware of the power that is wielded by that small section of society (the one percenters) that own the means of production, distribution, exchange and communication. Most Australians are unaware of the growing power of the 15% of Australians who are a part of the investment class. They, like the one percenters, use Australia’s investment friendly taxation laws to legally minimise their tax liability to the rest of the community. The tragedy of the deregulation, globalisation, corporatisation and privatisation tsunami that has swept across the globe during the past 50 years, is that people who would traditionally identify as part of the working class, now describe themselves as investors. They have little, if anything, in common with those Australians who have very little left over once they have paid their bills, rent or mortgage.

Over 50% of Australians from all different occupational groups – safety vest workers, white collar workers, micro business operators who do not employ labour, professionals and academics (most working as paye as you earn taxpayers) are responsible for almost 70% of the taxation revenue that is collected in Australia today. The 1% who own over 40% of the country’s wealth legally pay voluntary taxation in this country.

About 30% of Australians (almost 1 in 3) rely on social security benefits to survive (newstart allowance, disability, single parent and old age pensions). These are the very people who, as a consequence of changing government policies, now find they are sitting ducks in the government’s “welfare” shooting gallery. As far as the government, and to a lesser extent the Opposition, are concerned, a balanced budget can only come about by slashing social security payments and changing eligibility criteria. The more social security obstacles the government puts in place, the fewer people are able to negotiate the system. A lower social security bill has been obtained at the expense of the rapidly growing number of people who find themselves destitute. The poorest 40% of Australians, unlike the richest 1% who own 40% of the nation’s wealth, own less than 1% of this country’s wealth.

If you look at the voting figures - let’s not forget that although we have compulsory voting in this country, only approximately 70% of Australians who are eligible to be on the electoral roll actually cast a formal ballot at the last Federal election, who now find themselves at the pointy end of government policy are many of the same people who voted for the Coalition.

The tragedy is the older Australians become, the more fearful and conservative they become. Faced with an explosion in the number of over 60’s in Australia today, Australia is about to experience a very turbulent social, cultural and political transformation.


Traditional class analysis differentiated between the owners of land (landlords), labour (workers), and capital (capitalists). Whilst there is still differentiated ownership of those factors of production and the income receipts of those factors, class analysis remains relevant.