Australian Left Review

Article Title

Australian social science comes of age


Winton Higgins


The bulk of radical social analysis in our academic institutions nowadays is done by a particular generation of intellectuals. The antiwar movement, the women's movement and a host of other interlocking campaigns of the late sixties and early seventies moulded this generation politically. With this historically narrow experience it presided over a “ renaissance” of marxism and other radical social theory that, on the whole, denied the need for longer historical perspectives and dismissed the cautious and more painstaking works of their predecessors. Of the latter, those who could still find a market were only those with tales of working-class advances, heroism and spectacular breakthroughs. Such tales could be culled out to feed notions of an imminent overthrow of capitalism. That events have proved these notions to be wide of the mark should not detract from the real and lasting intellectual gains of the new-left era. But it is time that we looked through its abstract theoretical sophistication, to the static quality of its class analysis and political theory. This project takes a giant step forward with the publication of Bob Connell and Terry Irving's Class Structure in Australian History(l) (hereafter CSAH).