Publication Details

Carr, R. (2005). The struggle for generational legitimacy: youth, antiracism and counter movements in Australia since the mid-1900's. In C. Bailey & K. Barnett (Eds.), Social Change in the 21st Century: 2005 Conference Proceedings (pp. 2-18). Brisbane, Australia: Centre for Social Change Research, School Humanities & Human Services, QUT.


This paper examines the ways in which many young people have attempted to directly assert and define their place in Australian life since the mid-1990s. It analyses how young people have attempted to actively grasp a sense of social power through racial debates. Since the mid-1990s, a great number of young people have become active participants on two opposing sides of the antiracism movement. On the one hand, many young people attempted to resist mainstream political rhetoric on immigration, land rights and multiculturalism, partaking in protests and school walkouts. On the other hand, counter to antiracism, there have been movements in which young people have become more active in the Patriotic Youth League and other groups. Whilst the antiracism movement often aligned itself with socialist and more progressive political blocs, various counter movements have promoted national identity and populist rhetoric. This paper explores how many young people have also, indirectly, asserted their views on race. These have been passively expressed via socially orientated events, such as rock concerts. This paper also investigates the idea that, with some young people agitated into often direct (and sometimes violent) confrontations over race issues, national imagining has largely been taken for granted by a generational-based authoritative voice and in government policy.