Poverty in perception : a study of the twentieth-century prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand
KeywordsAustralia, history, liberalism, media, Merleau-Ponty, New Zealand, perception, phenomenology, philosophy of perception, policy, political thought, politics, poverty, poverty perception, prime minister, prime minister of Australia
prime minister of New Zealand, sociology, unisocialism, values of social occupation
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AbstractAustralia and New Zealand, as English-speaking nations with dominant white populations, present an ethnic anomaly not only in South East Asia, but also in the Southern Hemisphere. Colonised by predominantly workingclass British immigrants from the late eighteenth century, an ethnic and cultural connection grew between these two countries even though their indigenous populations and ecological environments were otherwise very different. Building a new life in Australia and New Zealand, the colonists shared similar historic perceptions of poverty – perceptions from their homelands that they did not want to see replicated in their new adopted countries. Dreams of a better life shaped their aspirations, self-identity and nationalistic outlook. By the twentieth century, national independence and self-government had replaced British colonial rule. The inveterate occurrence of poverty in Australia and New Zealand had created new local perspectives and different perceptions of, and about, poverty. This study analyses what relationship existed between the political directions adopted by the twentieth-century prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand and their perceptions of poverty. Using the existential phenomenological theory and methodology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the study adds to the body of knowledge about poverty in Australia and New Zealand by revealing the structure and origin of the poverty perceptions of the twentieth-century prime ministers.