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Class Equality in a Capitalist Economy: Wages, Work and Welfare

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Abstract

This chapter builds on Chap.  1’s argument that historically social democracy’s mission was largely conceived in terms of reducing economic inequality under capitalism. It explores the ways in which Australian Labor governments’ conception of how to do that has changed and expanded. The concept of the working class has now changed to be more inclusive and the working class is generally no longer seen as being exclusively white, male or heterosexual. Attitudes to the role of markets, the public sector and industrial regulation in reducing inequality also changed as Labor embraced a watered-down version of neoliberalism. However, given increasing economic inequality and the failure of neoliberal-influenced policies, class inequality under capitalism is re-emerging as an issue. Labor is now arguing that more needs to be done to improve wages and conditions. Nonetheless, social democrats are predominantly still committed to reforming, rather than replacing capitalism. Indeed inequality is depicted as being detrimental to capitalist economies as well as being a social justice issue. While the chapter predominantly focuses on Australian social democracy, international examples are given from other countries, including Britain, France, Germany and New Zealand. The chapter also utilises figures that demonstrate that inequality has been rising internationally.

Keywords

Social democracy Inequality Class Wages policy Neoliberalism Ideology 

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and International RelationsUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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