Social class in Australia
To advance economically in Australia, you are often told to get lots of education. And it's true that the higher you go educationally, the better paid you will usually be. But is it actually education at work? The great predictor of educational success is IQ -- so those who go furthest through the educational system will be those with the highest IQ. So it is most probably your IQ that gets you that good job. Education is just an IQ marker that anyone can read.
As a result of that, some thinkers say that the class system is a series of IQ levels. What we see as Upper class and what we see as lower class will be effects of IQ, and not much more. That is why social mobility is so poor. IQ is highly hereditary so if you are born into a poor family you are unlikely to have the IQ assets to rise above your parent's station.
A curious example of class characteristics in fact being IQ characteristics is from the findings about breast feeding. Affluent mothers make quite a point of breast feeding these days. To put your baby on the bottle will get you scorned and seen as uncaring, ignorant and very low class. Yet We read, for instance, that "The mother's IQ was more highly predictive of breastfeeding status than were her race, education, age, poverty status, smoking, the home environment, or the child's birth weight or birth order". So it's all IQ.
So your eventual place on the socio-economic scale will be where your level of IQ places you, with education being a marker, not a cause. And your IQ is essentially unalterable. So rising up socially will only happen if you are one of the unusual people who come from a humble background but are lucky enough to be born with a high IQ. Your IQ will place you in the right social rank for your level of ability.
Toby Young sets out in more detail the case for society being invisibly ranked by IQ
Social class in Australia is a topic that often goes undiscussed — but if the response to our series on class is anything to go by, some of you are ready to start talking about it.
Some people got in touch to say they believe the archetype of Australia as the lucky country, where opportunity abounds, rings as true as ever.
But others told us the idea that hard work and application are the only barriers to social mobility is laughable.
What was constant is that everyone had an opinion.
The ABC's recent class quiz prompted a number of curious results.
More than a few people were surprised to find their tastes, according to data compiled as part of the detailed Australian Cultural Fields project, aligned them with middle or upper-class woman aged between 40-59.
Taste — whether you'd rather see a pub band than go to opera, for instance — only explains so much of course, and there are many other factors that help explain where we each sit within Australia's complex and confusing class structure.
Sue, a public servant from Darwin, describes herself as a "late baby boomer". She once lived in Sydney, but moved to the Northern Territory with her husband for his job in construction work. "I'm definitely a middle-class person," she said.
"Class in the NT looks much different to what it would in New South Wales. In terms of access to housing, education, employment, health outcomes — it keeps class very much at the forefront of your mind."
Julie wrote in to tell us about her family full of "shop-stewards, miners, railway workers, shipbuilders and plumbers".
"All politically aware, self-educated and proud of their working-class community solidarity," she said.
"My grandfather would say to explain wealth and class: 'Remember no-one is better than anyone else, it is just some people are better off'."
Education opens doors
A running theme through the conversations was the notion of education as being key to class mobility.
Greg, from Melbourne, comes from a working-class background.
"Education was the 'mobility enabler' for me. A beneficiary of Whitlam's education reforms in the 1970s, access to university was merit-based. It opened the door to me," he said.
Brisbane-based policy officer Chris believes his upbringing and education provided him with a platform that's not necessarily attainable for all Australians.
"I have relatively secure professional work and I'm paid reasonably well, I'm aware of my privileged position in the social hierarchy," he said.
"It was impressed on me that I should go to university, that I should improve myself intellectually, financially."
But education isn't always easily accessible.
Alice comes from a modest background and decided to go to university after achieving a UAI of 97.7.
Throughout her time at university, she has struggled to make ends meet, despite working multiple jobs.
"I'm safe for now. But should I choose to embark upon a Master's component, and my benefits are taken away … who knows where I'll end up. As an intelligent woman in her mid-thirties, I shudder to think that my future may very well lie in the streets as a homeless person, making me yet another uncomfortable statistic for everyone else to gawk at."
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