News, Culture & Society

ABC brands people based on online cultural survey

An ABC survey which ranks people by social class based on what music, books and television they like has been slammed as elitist and divisive.

The online quiz, created in partnership with Western Sydney University’s Australian Cultural Fields project, ranks people according to their cultural tastes.

More then 680,000 people have taken the survey so far, but critics say questions seemed tailor-made for viewers of the national broadcaster. 

An ABC survey which ranks people by social class based on what music, books and television they like has been slammed as elitist and divisive (pictured is Kylie Minogue, who was featured in the survey)

The online quiz, created in partnership with Western Sydney University's Australian Cultural Fields project, ranks people according to their cultural tastes (pictured is Jimmy Barnes, who was featured in the survey)

The online quiz, created in partnership with Western Sydney University’s Australian Cultural Fields project, ranks people according to their cultural tastes (pictured is Jimmy Barnes, who was featured in the survey)

Almost 700,000 people have taken the survey so far, but critics say questions seemed tailor-made for viewers of the national broadcaster (pictured is Luciano Pavarotti, who was featured in the survey)

Almost 700,000 people have taken the survey so far, but critics say questions seemed tailor-made for viewers of the national broadcaster (pictured is Luciano Pavarotti, who was featured in the survey)

Scott Cam, host of reality TV show The Block, which features in the quiz, called the survey elitist, The Daily Telegraph reported. 

‘It’s not always a good idea to divide Australians into classes but if you do, the working class is the best one,’ he said.

Cam described viewers of his show – labelled working class by the survey – as ‘good old-fashioned Aussies’.

AFL club president and game show host Eddie McGuire agreed, saying he was proud of his working class background.

AFL club president and game show host Eddie McGuire (pictured) agreed, saying he was proud of his working class background

AFL club president and game show host Eddie McGuire (pictured) agreed, saying he was proud of his working class background

Scott Cam (pictured), host of reality TV show The Block, which features in the quiz, called the survey elitist

Scott Cam (pictured), host of reality TV show The Block, which features in the quiz, called the survey elitist

‘The great thing about Australia is that there is a something for everyone. For every person sipping French wine, there is someone with a stubby of beer,’ he said. 

The TV hosts were joined by social researcher Mark McCrindle, who said the questions seemed like they biased towards ABC viewers.

Melbourne-based demographer Simon Kuestenmacher also took issue with the survey, calling it ‘un-Australian’.

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The ABC survey takes about six minutes and ranks people by social class while also estimating age and gender.

Scores are calculated based on whether people know of and/or like Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin and Jimmy Barnes, or Pavarotti and Jane Austen.

The survey divides Australians into four classes – working class, lower middle, middle and upper class – according to which celebrities they know of.

Class is also linked to occupation, according to the ABC, which said those with working class tastes tend to do routine, lower supervisory or technical jobs.

Upper class people, on the other hand, were more likely to be CEOs, lawyers, professors or judges. 

The questions were drawn from a major national survey of 1200 people in a project led by Professor Tony Bennett.

Dr Bennet said the concept of class is still relevant to Australians, and is related to patterns of inequality.

Scores are calculated based on whether people know of and/or like Paul 'Fatty' Vautin and Jimmy Barnes, or Pavarotti and Jane Austen (pictured)

Scores are calculated based on whether people know of and/or like Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin and Jimmy Barnes, or Pavarotti and Jane Austen (pictured)

‘There are very clear connections between the cultural advantages that middle and upper middle class Australians derive from their home backgrounds, their educational successes, their later occupational careers and the cultural tastes they develop that distinguish them from other Australians,’ he said.

‘The role of culture in the inheritance of inequalities shows that Australia has a long way to go before it can truly be the fair-go country it claims to be.’

The ABC said the quiz was light-hearted and just meant to stimulate discussion, and was not intended to be taken too seriously.

An internal review by the ABC’s Editorial Policies unit in March found the national broadcaster should ‘spend more time talking to ordinary Australians’.

Managing director Michelle Guthrie said the ABC would cover more human interest stories in response to the audit, which was intended to investigate claims of elitism.

The ABC said the quiz was light-hearted and just meant to stimulate discussion, and was not intended to be taken too seriously (pictured is Paul Vautin, who was featured in the survey)

The ABC said the quiz was light-hearted and just meant to stimulate discussion, and was not intended to be taken too seriously (pictured is Paul Vautin, who was featured in the survey)

 



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