An Institution of General History (1680) William Howell - by William Howell (sometimes spelled Howel)

By William Howell (sometimes spelled Howel)

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By William Howell (sometimes spelled Howel)

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More commonly, however, aboriginal people were considered in Australian sociology under the American rubric of ‘ethnic minority’. This is how they were treated, for instance, in Baldock and Lally's survey of Sociology in Australia and New Zealand, in a chapter on ‘studies of ethnic minorities’ whose primary focus was post-war non-British immigration, and which took up issues of assimilation, ethnic identity, etc. The ironic result of the new structure of sociological knowledge was that indigenous groups were understood as being the same kind of thing as the groups constituted by the most recent settlers.

This brief period even saw the first pop sociology best-seller, The Lucky Country, written by a journalist (Horne 1964). In the following ten years, from 1966 to 1976, another ten departments (or equivalent) of sociology were created around the country. But a collection of social surveys, however well done, was not enough to claim space in the universities as a new discipline. There also 18 Australia and World Sociology needed to be a body of ideas. As Davies and Encel (1965: 1) put it in the first edition of their influential textbook, Australian Society, sociology is ‘an academic discipline seeking to illuminate the results of social surveys (including the census) by systematic thinking about social groups and institutions’.

An essential part of this is creating a new relationship between the sociology of the global metropole and that of the periphery. An absolute requirement is to make the relationship explicit, to make it clear that in the intellectual world as on the capital market there is a periphery and a metropole and they interact on unequal terms. In Australia, this means disrupting the structure of knowledge that was established at the formation of the sociology discipline in the 1950s and 1960s, that treated ‘Australian society’ as part of, at most 23 Histories of Australian Sociology an extension of, the metropolitan modern.

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