chapter  4
22 Pages

Out of Work

As a national stereotype the Australian is not famous for enjoying work, yet the category of work is an indispensible part of the cultural complex. In Australian society, as in all others, work is the basis of economic life, the source of wealth and value, and the dominant ideological forms are very much concerned to regulate workers and the world of work. So work weaves through the fabric of Australian culture as a presence, but also as different kinds of absence and displacement: in the kinds and uses of leisure and in attitudes to not working. This chapter looks at being 'out of' work-an oblique angle, perhaps, on the meaning of work in Australia, but it reveals the way in which work has a determinate effect even on those who do not have jobs (all too many nowadays) or those who will soon be looking for one. Unlike the preceding chapters, this one looks at the mainstream of Australian popular culture from outside, from the point of view of those queueing for admission.