A dead set bogan expert, a PhD in boganology no less, disagrees with Chris Trotter over Labour targeting bogans for support.
The article is good and certainly needs a bigger audience than the few lamb chop recipe aficionados that infest New Zealand’s premier blog for posts about pots, pans and pannier bags.
First and foremost, there is some initial clarification needed. Being a Bogan is not based on deficit. Perhaps it is due to academic thinking on subcultural groups such as Bogans, typified by the work of academics in the Birmingham tradition such as Hall in Resistance through Rituals, which conceptualised youth cultures as a way for young people to support each other due to class subordination. Their so-called deviant behaviour was viewed as a reaction of working-class youth to structural changes in post-war Britain.
The Birmingham tradition of sub-cultural research is hugely influential to this day, including further research in the 1970s concerning subcultures such as Mods, Rockers, and Skinheads. Chris’s column is reminiscent of this thinking, in his suggestions that Bogans are a response of sorts to Labour’s economic changes in the 1980s, vis-a-visRoger Douglas.
I am not a political scientist. While more research would be needed in the area before a definitive statement could be made, I will say that working class is not a dirty term. The working class have marketable skills; they build your houses, they fix your car, and they replace that o-ring in the tap in your kitchen sink which you really should have done yourself.
They rent a room and not a house because it means more money to buy that gearbox they wanted. They lack tertiary qualifications not because of a lack of intelligence, but because you don’t need a doctorate to get a job as a mechanic when a certificate will do – a job that they enjoy and gives access to a decent work space.
The problem with the Birmingham tradition was that it portrayed subcultural groups as unwitting dupes or victims who banded together due to a lack of voice. While the Birmingham tradition provides a useful base for research into such groups, to apply such thinking to more modern communities silences those the research purports to give voice to. The Bogan, and by extension the working class, are not victims in a modern sense.