Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Geography and Sustainable Communities


The national imaginary is the lens through which we interpret our experience as citizens of a nation state. It is the vehicle for expressions of belonging, identity and community. Yet, and because of this, the national imaginary also embodies and perpetuates axes of social marginalisation. The national imaginary is shaped by perceptions of economy – iconic industries and accompanying forms of labour – but also by normative moral positionings attached to the economic. In certain ways, morality and economy intertwine in the national imaginary; for instance, in how certain industries and forms of labour are imbued with special status as morally ‘good’, while other industries and forms of labour are problematised, with exclusionary effects. From this moral economic basis, processes of social marginalisation ensue.

Adopting a governmentality framework, this research interrogates the Australian national imaginary. It does so via the experience of two iconic forms of labour inextricably linked throughout history, and yet with contrasting visibilities and anxieties: sex work and mining. Through technologies of power – the “authoritative and managerial structures … [with] the common objective of directing the actions of the governed in a particular way” (Dufty 2007: 28) – two iconic forms of labour constitute a distinctive axis of social marginalisation. In the national imaginary, mining has been elevated to heroic proportions, while sex work has been marginalised and stigmatised, or simply forgotten. The way these forms of labour are framed in the national imaginary affects the experiences of citizenship of those undertaking such work, and of how these two industries have come to impact our conception of ‘Australianness’. This thesis traces the contrasting visibilities and anxieties of sex work and mining, and the way their representations in the national imaginary have become deeply embedded within institutions, and are operationalized via technologies of power, intersecting with moral norms.

The thesis ensues in three substantive parts, each with its corresponding theoretical influence and data sources ...



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.