Class formation and political change: A trans-tasman dialogue

Erik Olssen*, Bruce Scates

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The retreat from aggregate representations of class has opened the way for a reassessment of its role in both Australia and New Zealand's history. This article focuses on two recent New Zealand research projects to review our traditional interpretations of class-based coalitions, interpretations that have often been deeply shaped by the Australian and British scholarship.1 The first and oldest of these projects has related political change nationally and locally to analyses of demographic class formation in New Zealand's oldest industrial suburbs and its most densely populated urban region, southern Dunedin; the second set out to explain the dominance of conservative parties for most of the twentieth century by investigating electoral behaviour in ten provincial towns.2 The article concludes with some comparative remarks on how this 'class work' might inform similar studies in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalLabour History
Issue number95
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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