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Howard's queens in Whitlam's republic: explaining enduring support for the monarchy in Australia - Chapter 9 - Australian Social Attitudes IV

Abstract and Figures

This chapter tracks Australian public opinion towards retaining the monarchy from 1993 to 2016. It finds large cohort socialisation effects and some responsiveness to media cues from politically disinterested voters.
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Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic:
explaining enduring support for the
monarchy in Australia
Luke Mansillo
Support for retaining the constitutional monarchy in Australia was widely seen to be in an
inexorable decline (Bean 1993) but in recent years, successive Australian opinion surveys have
shown increasing levels of support for the monarchy. Aer the unsuccessful 1999 referendum
to replace the Queen with a republican style of government, Australians have warmed to the
monarchy. e Australian monarchy’s survival is an especially curious socio-psychological
phenomenon because the Crown is not in residence and is shared between 16 nation-states.
Moreover, Australian national mythology is steeped in the promise of the ‘fair go’ for all in an
egalitarian society (Moran 2011). Given this, Australias reluctance to dismiss the Queen from
her constitutional duties seems more ‘bizarre’ than British persistence with this institutional
arrangement (Billig 1998, 1). A society that avows egalitarianism but retains its inegalitarian
symbolism is perplexing. But this is not unique to Australia: Canada, New Zealand, Sweden,
is chapter provides an explanation for the recovery in support for the monarchy.
In particular, I nd that the Baby Boomer generations experiences with the sacking of
the Whitlam government have le an impression on that generation’s preferences. It turns
out that Baby Boomers are not more progressive than other generations, but remain more
republican than other generations.
Trends in Australian attitudes to the monarchy
Australian attitudes towards the monarchy have been far from stable for the last two decades
(Mansillo 2016). Before the 1990s, there was considerable stability of the Australian public’s
views on the question of abolition (Bean 1993; McAllister 2011). By abolition, I refer to the
removal of the institution of the Crown in Australian law. is chapter focuses on the trend
in Australian opinion from 1993 onwards and disaggregates movements in public attitudes
by key socio-political characteristics. I look more closely at the role of cohort socialisation
and value change in shaping the electorate’s attitudes over that period. e data analysed in
this chapter is taken from the Australian Election Study (AES) (1993–2016).1
1 e Australian Election Study is a mail-out cross-sectional survey with repeated measures conducted in
the three months aer each federal election since 1987.
Figure 9.1 Attitudes on retaining the monarchy, 1993-2016, %.
Source: Australian Election Study, 1993–2016.
To begin, this chapter focuses on the abolition question. Respondents were asked: ‘Do you
think that Australia should become a republic with an Australian head of state, or should the
Queen be retained as head of state?’2Figure 9.1 shows public opinion trends between 1993 and
2016. In 1993, 60 per cent of Australians preferred that Australia would become a republic.
By 1998 this rose to 66 per cent – a year prior to the 1999 Referendum. Total support for
the republic then withered over the next 15 years to 52 per cent in 2016. Not only has overall
support for a republic fallen but its intensity has collapsed. In 2001, 38per cent of Australians
strongly preferred an Australian republic, and by 2016, this had fallen to 24 per cent.
Attitudes to the monarchy and age
ere is an interesting paradox between age and attitudes towards the monarchy. It is regularly
assumed that young people in most advanced democracies hold generally progressive
attitudes. is is thought to be a product of increasing physical and economic security and
generational replacement’ (Inglehart 1977; 1990). For example, young Australians typically
hold more progressive views towards asylum seekers (Carson et al. 2016) and are more open
to deeper links with Asia (McAllister and Ravenhill 1998). Young Australians also accept
climate change science and support policy to curtail its eects at higher rates than older
2 e closed measures were: ‘Strongly favour [Australia] becoming a republic’; ‘Favour becoming a
republic’; ‘Strongly favour retaining the Queen [as the head of state]’; and ‘Favour retaining the Queen.
Australian Social Attitudes IV
Figure 9.2 Attitudes about retaining the monarchy by age group, %.
Source: AES 1993–2016.
Australians (Tranter 2011; see also Chapter 4 in this volume). ey position themselves to the
le of centre and typically vote for progressive parties (McAllister 2011), and historically, they
have been more supportive of the abolition of the Australian monarchy (Bean 1993). But, as
Figure 9.2 shows, young Australians no longer prefer a republic in such large numbers (see
also Mansillo 2016).
ere are distinct age, cohort and period eects in the electorate’s attitudes. In 2016,
young Australians aged between 18 and 24 years supported retaining the monarchy at
higher rates compared to 1998. Due to data limitations these eects cannot be entirely
separated through modelling. However, the attitudes of each cohort have an age prole
which can be tracked over time. For instance, those aged between 18 and 24 years in
1993 had an approximate age range of 25 and 34 years old in 2001, and 35 and 44 years
old in 2010 and 2013. is cohort’s overall support for a republic increased from 64 per
cent in 1993 to 68 per cent in 2001. Over this period support intensied, with a 10 per
cent increase in those who strongly favoured a republic. But by 2016, overall support had
decreased to 51 per cent favouring a republic, with 12 per cent fewer who strongly held this
preference. e observed changes over the period for this cohort’s attitudes demonstrate
some exibility in attitudes.
By 2013, there is clearly a nonlinear relationship with age: more of those aged between
18 and 24 years old (48per cent) wished to retain the monarchy than those aged between
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
55 and 64 years old (43 per cent). However, more Australians aged 65 years or older (59 per
cent) preferred to retain the monarchy than those aged between 55 and 64 years. Baby
Boomers express the most pro-republican views overall. Baby Boomers’ views have not
been adopted by their children. is is against expectations that ‘generational replacement’
would produce higher levels of republicanism (Bean 1993, 202–3).
Baby Boomers have higher levels of support for an Australian republic, but why? Is this
generation generally more progressive than other generations or did the experience of the
Whitlam government make Baby Boomers exceptional? To assess whether Baby Boomers
are more progressive than other generations, a series of social attitudes are compared
by generation (see Appendix 9.1, Fig. 9.1A). Baby Boomers maintain more progressive
views towards abolishing the monarchy than other generations. However, Generation
Y is more progressive in their attitudes to same-sex marriage, allowing asylum seeker
boats, higher immigration, Aboriginal land rights, censorship of nudity and sex in lms,
decriminalisation of marijuana, and greater opportunities for migrants. Baby Boomers
and Generation Y have similar levels of support for allowing a readily accessible abortion,
greater opportunities for women, and greater links with Asia. Australian republicanism is
exceptional to Baby Boomers, who demonstrate little evidence of being more progressive
than other generations. Despite historiography that stresses Baby Boomer involvement
in progressive politics and social movements during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the
generation is not more progressive on many social attitude indicators than younger
generations.3e Baby Boomer generation is regularly characterised by the radical
activists who broke away from Old Le activities to participate in more informal,
participatory and expressive practices which formed the basis of activities ranging from
the freedom rides campaign for Indigenous rights, womens liberation, gay liberation, and
similar groups (Macintyre 2004, 232–36). Many sections of the contemporary feminist
movement mourn ‘the passing of feminism’ and its rejection by many young women
(Adkins 2004, 429), a historiography that idealises the 1960s and 1970s feminist movement
and the Baby Boomer generation. For Australian Baby Boomers, the republic is their issue.
A Whitlam generation?
Political socialisation has an invaluable role in explaining an otherwise perplexing fact:
unlike most issues debated in Australian politics, young people have less progressive
attitudes than their parents when it comes to the monarchy. No individual is born an
adult. Socialisation is a process whereby attitudes and social norms are developed through
social learning (Bourdieu 1990, 135). Research suggests that the prime age for political
socialisation is between the ages of 12 and 18 years (Schuman and Rodgers 2004; Torney-
Purta 2004) but socialisation continues throughout life and the ‘fresh encounters’ with
politics between the ages of 17 and 25 years also play a crucial role in forming political
predispositions (Erikson 1968; Mannheim 1952; Somit and Peterson 1987). Figure 9.2
suggests that those who entered the 65 years or older cohort in 2016 – those born between
1949 and 1951 – were rst-time voters in 1972.4e rst government they could elect
3 Namely, the emergence of feminist, gay liberation, anti-nuclear, anti-war, civil rights, freedom of
speech, and environmentalist social movements
4 In 1972, the voting age was 21 years old; it was lowered to 18 years in 1973.
Australian Social Attitudes IV
was dismissed three years later. It is unsurprising that, at a time these Australians were
becoming politically aware, the dismissal led these rst-time voters to reject retaining the
monarchy. is shi is reected in the small drop in support for the monarchy compared
to 2013 for those aged 65 years and over.
Major political events socialise voters and crystallise attitudes that remain decades
later. e 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam government uniquely focused the publics
attention on the role and powers that the Constitution aords the governor-general and
provided the foundations for the later growth in public support for Australian
republicanism. Many Baby Boomers were politically socialised during this crisis, which
appears to have le a mark on the cohort’s view of the monarchy (Mansillo 2016). While
Baby Boomers have never had a particularly favourable opinion of the monarchy, their
children have only really been presented with a generally favourable media image, and
were socialised during the Howard era which some characterise as a conservative period
(Johnson 2007; Gulmanelli 2014). Despite royal scandals in the 1990s (Benoit and Brinson
1999; Black and Smith 1999), in the twenty-rst century, Buckingham Palace has
maintained a good public image (Balmer 2009; 2011; Bastin 2009; Greyser et al. 2006;
Wardle and West 2004). Billig (1998, 215) holds that both young and new royals provide
‘a breath of fresh air’ that can be seen to be ‘moving with the times’ as ‘[e]ach generation
becom[es] less formal, less remote; the deferential society [becomes] more egalitarian’. In
other words, younger members of the royal family appear more human and tolerable than
older members. is change also goes some way to explain the age prole of support and
opposition to the monarchy.
Australian republicanism is dear and salient to those who were adolescents or young
adults when Whitlam was dismissed, but the issue does not interest many beyond this
narrow cohort. Still, contemporary political elites in Australia are drawn overwhelmingly
from cohorts who were politically socialised when the role of the monarchy was
problematic. e Australian political class and media elites may be attracted to the issue
with their pronounced opinions, explaining the many calls to restart the republican
movement in recent years. Diculty in a relaunched republican campaign gaining traction
may arise with the young’s lack of fervency on the issue. A successful campaign would
cra a campaign strategy mindful that the political gures who run the campaign are
generationally distinct from those whom they must persuade on the reform. It is quite
likely that elite and mass opinions on the republic are dissimilar. Such situations have
the potential to cause political acrimony and campaign stagnation, with elites unable to
relate to, or strategise appropriately to, the mass public opinion they seek to inuence and
convert into votes (Dalton 1987).
e republican movement has further demographic and political challenges. e
median voter has become more supportive of retaining the monarchy and this has become
increasingly diuse across constituencies of interest. e median voter theorem would imply
that parties would be motivated to reduce risks of dealignment, especially from new
competitors (Downs 1957). ose most keen for a republic became eligible to vote in 1981.
is cohort became the median-aged voter 18 years later when the 1999 referendum was
held. Since then, policy demand for a republic from the public has declined, unlike demand
from political elites. At the 2016 election this cohort was aged between 53 and 59 years
while the median voter was aged 47 years. is constituency is relatively stable in their
voting behaviour, with little risk of defecting from their partisan voting behaviour. ose
whom political elites are most interested in competing for are increasingly less likely to
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
be republicans. Recent canvassing for a new republican campaign has come from those
politically socialised when Whitlam was dismissed. Political elites who currently have power
will nd appeals to young people that do not have cause to problematise the monarchy
frustrating. Vexation may be amplied by a link between monarchism with ethnocentric
and civic nationalisms (Mansillo 2016, 224). ere would be diculty employing republican
appeals to national identity if nationalists associate the nation with monarchy. Disassociation
of nationalism and monarchy requires stimuli. Perhaps the 1990s royal scandals produced a
unique opportunity structure that facilitated the republican campaigns inroads into public
opinion. Political elites keen on abolition face a dicult strategic question: when to push for
another referendum, given the risks. For any political elite who can foresee possible failure in
abolishing the monarchy at a second referendum, the greatest unease would be the wait until
a third referendum. Success has become less certain in recent years.
Attitudes to the monarchy divided by gender
ere are reasonably large attitudinal dierences between men and women, with about 15
per cent more women tending to support retaining the monarchy than men (see Figure
9.3). ese dierences were particularly pronounced in 1993 and from 2010 onwards in
the AES data. For half a century, there have been persistent dierences by gender on
the question of abolition (Mansillo 2016, 218–20). Gender dierences in attitudes have
converged on many social issues (McAllister 2011, 112–20). However, attitudes towards
retaining the monarchy are an exception.
e dierence observed between the genders in Australia, however, does not appear
in Britain (Billig 1998, 173). Billig (1998) found only dierences in interest in royalty by
gender in Britain but no dierence on the question of abolition – something present in
Australia. Billig describes a ‘household division of labour’ where royalty is a ‘female’ topic
of conversation, and identied this ‘gendered territory’ in the interviews he conducted:
‘Royalty was being marked out as female business. Mothers, not fathers, would be
interested in royal books; girls, not boys, would stand in the playground chatting about the
Royal Family’ (Billig 1998, 179).
Socioeconomic status, education, and attitudes towards the monarchy
Socioeconomic status produces great dierences in attitudes to retaining the monarchy. For
simplicity, I use self-assessed class identication. ere are stark dierences in attitudes by
class identities, as depicted in Figure 9.4. ere is generally stronger support for a republic by
those who identify with the upper and middle classes. Class social identities enable citizens
to position themselves within a society’s intergroup social dynamics and such identication
is a cognitive shortcut to understanding societal complexities (Hogg 2000).
Middle and upper class republicanism observed in Figure 9.4 ts well with
assessments made by Stuart Macintyre (2004, 258–66) about the Keating government’s
foray into the politics of a new national identity. He argues that Prime Minister Paul
Keating – the chief advocate for a republic – had a ‘preoccupation’ with ‘big picture
Australia. is gave an impression of obsession with ‘noisy minority groups’ and their
postmaterialist ‘pet’ issues such as the republic, reconciliation with Aboriginal Australians,
Australian Social Attitudes IV
Figure 9.3 Attitudes about retaining the monarchy by gender group, %.
Source: AES 1993–2016.
and strengthening multicultural Australia, all as 1990s Australia languished through high
unemployment. ose experiencing economic hardship and economic insecurity when
confronted with insecurity of both culture and national identity cannot be expected to
embrace republicanism with as much vigour as the well-to-do.
Despite enduring dierences in attitudes between the upper/middle and working
classes towards the monarchy, attitudes within classes have uctuated. e AES data
details more nuance than Macintyre (2004) suggests. In 1993, middle-class Australians
were statistically indistinguishable from working-class Australians on whether Australia
should retain the monarchy or become a republic. However, from then on, the middle
class diverged from the working class, increasing their support for the republic. It should
not be lost that when Keating was elected, middle- and working-class Australians had the
same level of republicanism. By 1998 far more middle-class Australians were republican-
leaning compared with working-class Australians. is dierence persists but the degree
has diminished over time. Since 1999 there has been convergence of views by class, as
the referendum becomes a more distant memory. Overall, the middle and working classes
have become less republican but small dierences remain in their level of support for
retaining the monarchy.
ere is an expected similarity in the relationships of both class identication and
education on attitudes towards retaining the monarchy (see Figure 9.5). is is unsurprising
as a higher class position aords greater educational opportunities and greater education
levels enable access to higher social class positions. e well-educated can improve their
socioeconomic status through more lucrative jobs and those from high socioeconomic
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
Figure 9.4 Attitudes towards retaining the monarchy by class identication, %.
Source: AES 1993–2016.
backgrounds have relative advantages through their greater capacity to aord their children
educational opportunities not available to lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
University-educated Australians have the lowest level of support for retaining the
monarchy. However, more university-educated Australians supported retaining the Crown
in 2016 than in 1993. In the 15 years from 2001 to 2016, university-educated Australians
have also ‘weakened’ the strength of their republicanism, with half as many strongly
preferring a republic. In 1993, Australians with a non-university post-school qualication
were statistically indistinguishable from Australians without a post-school qualication.
Both groups became more republican in the late 1990s, but both have since reduced that
support. ose without a post-school qualication have a warmer opinion of the monarchy
in 2016 than in 1993. Education is a good distinguishing feature of attitudes between
Australians but over time there is little stability of attitudes produced by education. While
the direction of support has remained relatively consistent in the period studied, the base
level of each education level has uctuated. Education as a proxy for political interest may
have acted as an intermediary for media salience in the formation of attitudes.
Partisanship and attitudes towards retaining the monarchy
Political partisanship is the attachment to a political party that oers citizens a shortcut
to navigate an otherwise complex political world and thereby reduces cognitive burden
on citizens (Burden and Klofstad 2005). Moreover, political partisanship has long been
Australian Social Attitudes IV
Figure 9.5 Attitudes towards retaining the monarchy by education levels, %.
Source: AES 1993–2016.
known to be inuential in determining social and political attitudes (McAllister 2011;
McAllister and Kelley 1985) – including attitudes towards the monarchy (Bean 1993).
Partisan identities condition voters’ attitudinal positions. Parties provide cues that activate
latent predispositions or biases in citizens’ minds. ese cues aect the degree to which
individuals support attitudinal positions. Despite partisanship levels declining in post-
industrialised countries, partisanship is comparatively stable in Australia and remains
an essential conceptual tool to comprehend mass public opinion (Dalton and
Wattenberg 2002).
Overall, Liberal–National Coalition partisans prefer to retain the monarchy (see
Figure 9.6). In 1998, there was slim majority support for a republic (53 per cent) among
this group, but this has since collapsed to a minority in 2013 (39 per cent). Labor partisans
from 1993 to 1998 overwhelmingly supported a republic. In 1998, 21 per cent of Labor
partisans preferred to retain the monarchy but this grew to 37per cent in 2016. Attitudes
were highly durable in the 1990s when issue salience made partisanship a relevant cue to
inform attitudes. is eect may have weakened as the monarchy–republic issue featured
less on the political agenda. Greens partisans are generally republicans: only 9 per cent in
2001 supported retaining the monarchy but this has since increased to 29 per cent by 2016.
ose who identify with other minor parties since 2001 have increased in their support for
retaining the monarchy.
In 2016, with 37 per cent of Labor partisans monarchists, Labor is more ‘cross-
pressured’ on the issue than at any other time in the previous two decades. Of the 44
Australian referendums presented to the public since Federation, only eight have
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
Figure 9.6 Attitudes towards retaining the monarchy by partisanship, %.
Source: AES 1993–2016.
successfully passed and all have been with eective bipartisan support for the proposed
reform. For republican campaigners to have a chance at success, support from both the
Coalition and Labor would be required. Moreover, Labor partisans who are conicted on
the issue – or ‘cross-pressured’ in the language of Hillygus and Shields (2008) – could
be persuaded at a general election to defect to another party if the Coalition tried to
wedge Labor on this issue (see Carson et al. 2016; Wilson and Turnbull 2001). At the
same time, the re-emergence of One Nation could pose the Coalition a potential threat
to its electoral competitiveness. Monarchism taps into a strain of ethnic nationalism in
the electorate which may be a source for One Nation or another far-right party to wedge
the Coalition between inner-city ‘small-l liberal’ Liberal voters and culturally threatened
(socially conservative) suburban Liberal and rural National voters. e issue may help
facilitate One Nation’s appeal among ethno-nationalist Australians – the same people
attracted to the party in 1998 when there was an active republic campaign.
Both Labor and Coalition party strategists have little interest in campaigning for a
republic when they seek each other’s cross-pressured partisans to win oce. In addition,
partisans of other parties and the non-partisans are becoming an increasingly large
component of the electorate. ese crucial voters are evenly split on the issue. It remains to
be seen how willing Labor and Coalition elites are to campaign on the issue given the risks
of electorate realignment from the major parties.
Australian Social Attitudes IV
Political interest and attitudes towards retaining the monarchy
An enduring debate in political science surrounds the public’s political sophistication and
its implications for how citizens behave politically in a democracy. e level of public
knowledge of and general interest in politics has long been thought to be essential for any
democracy. For citizens to make meaningful decisions they must understand their options
when political questions are presented. Citizens must understand their political system if
they intend to wield inuence and control their representatives. Core to a well-functioning
democracy is that voters maintain an interest in political aairs (Almond and Verba 2015).
e political knowledge and interest in politics of Australians are both quite low, similar to
the situation in other post-industrialised countries (McAllister 1998).
Attitudes toward retaining the monarchy should be aected by levels of political interest.
People who are interested in politics tend to consider political questions and have rmer and
more consistent views. People who are not interested in politics are not likely to frequently
encounter political information but, when they are exposed, they are potentially easily
swayed. Unlike most advanced democracies, Australia compels the least sophisticated voters
to the polls. ese voters do not typically turn out to vote in comparable democracies where
voting is not compulsory. is makes the views of those with less political interest and
little political sophistication more crucial to political outcomes for Australian democracy.
Figure 9.7 disaggregates attitudes to retaining the monarchy by level of political interest. In
1993, attitudes were statistically indistinguishable between those with high and low levels
of interest in politics. e monarchy became increasingly contested during the 1990s and
therefore politically salient in the lead-up to the 1999 referendum. ose with the greatest
levels of political interest became increasingly more republican. ose with ‘some’ interest
in politics from 1993 to 2016 have become marginally more inclined to prefer retaining
the Queen. ose uninterested in politics were far less republican. ose completely
uninterested or with ‘not much’ interest in politics were statistically indistinguishable in
2001 from their 1993 views. As expected, even aer enduring the most intense republic
campaigning, these citizens’ attitudes did not shi.
All in all, those interested in politics are less likely to support a republic in 2016
compared to 2001. A marked shi in support for retaining the monarchy by those with
‘some’ or ‘not much’ interest in politics occurred between 2010 and 2013 (again, see Figure
9.7). is increase corresponded to a period that captures the marriage between Prince
William and Catherine Middleton, lending weight to the argument that public spectacles
like royal weddings legitimise royalty and improve attitudes towards the monarchy
(Mansillo 2016, 230). ose citizens who are ambivalent on the issue appear to have
greatly shied their views in that period. Perhaps the period eect of royal scandal and the
referendum in the 1990s (which enabled the sudden collapse in support) has ceased to be
Monarchy yields to postmaterialism?
Advanced industrial societies following the Second World War experienced
unprecedented levels of security through economic growth and stable international
politics (Kremer 1993; Mearsheimer 1993). Aer the Great Depression and world wars,
social-democratic parties in advanced industrialised democracies developed welfare states
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
Figure 9.7 Attitudes towards retaining the monarchy by political interest, %.
Source: AES 1993–2016.
to reinforce the security oered by unprecedented prosperity. Postwar birth cohorts whose
survival was secure developed more ‘postmaterialist’ values, i.e. prioritising self-
expression, autonomy and quality of life (Inglehart 1977; 1990). Aer the Second World
War, values and cultural norms have shied through generational replacement, advanced
by new social movements (Inglehart 1990, 314). Accordingly, these values should be
important in determining attitudes towards the monarchy.
A postmaterialism index is constructed from responses to a set of two questions on
importantgoalsfora nation. ey includetwo materialist options: ‘maintainorderin the nation
and ‘ght rising prices’; and two postmaterialist options: ‘give people more say in the decisions
of the government’ and ‘protect freedom of speech.5Respondents who select only materialist or
postmaterialist categories are classied as such. ose who select a postmaterialist option then
a materialist option are mixed postmaterialists and conversely those who select a materialist
option before a postmaterialist option are classied as mixed materialists.
5 Postmaterialism is measured here by the Minkenberg and Inglehart (1989) operationalisation of the
Inglehart (1977; 1990) index. Identifying and measuring postmaterialism in public opinion surveys is
highly debated since there are major concerns about frequent measurement validity (Bean and Papadakis
1994; Davis and Davenport 1999). e index items have been repeated on surveys for decades to maintain
consistency in surveys of record despite these measures being unable to capture the full complexity of value
change that early scholars of value change theory could not have predicted. While the index has its
limitations it still contains value for social researchers.
Australian Social Attitudes IV
Figure 9.8 Attitudes towards retaining the monarchy grouped by the Postmaterialism Index, %.
Source: AES 1993–2016.
Unsurprisingly, postmaterialists favour the replacement of the monarchy more than
materialists (see Figure 9.8). ere is relative stability in the levels of republicanism for
materialists. Postmaterialists have had more uctuation in their attitudes with support
for retaining the monarchy increasing in recent years. Pure postmaterialists and mixed
postmaterialists declined markedly in their support in the 1990s. ere was a small drop
for mixed-materialists’ and pure-materialists’ support for the monarchy in 1998 before
then returning to trend. Mixed-materialists and mixed postmaterialists began in 1993
at the same position. By 2016 mixed-materialists had increased their overall support for
retaining the monarchy somewhat, but mixed postmaterialists remain at their 1993 levels.
What determines attitudes towards the monarchy in Australia?
is chapter identies several socio-political characteristics that structure opinion towards
retaining the monarchy in Australia. To assess which factors are the most consequential
and what durability they have in structuring attitudes, I employ a semiparametric
generalised additive model (Wood 2011). Semiparametric regression was selected because
age and income have nonlinear relationships with attitudes towards retaining the
monarchy.6For each of the nine studies attitudes towards replacement of the monarchy are
regressed over birth year, family income, gender, university education, the postmaterialism
index, Coalition partisanship, and level of political interest.7e parameter and curve
estimates are provided in Table 9.A2 and Figures 9.A2 and 9.A3.
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
e eects that birth year and income have on opinions move concurrently with each
other. Years where birth year has a linear relationship, family income has a nonlinear
relationship and vice versa. is uctuation in eects between years could suggest a period
eect or perhaps an over-identied model. In 1993, and 2007 through to 2013, birth year
has a nonlinear relationship with support for retaining the monarchy greatest among older
and younger birth cohorts. e lowest support is from those born during the late 1950s and
1960s who were socialised during the 1970s. ese results conrm the cohort socialisation
hypothesis that Mansillo (2016, 220–24) proposes. Consistently, those oldest birth cohorts
record the highest level of support for the monarchy while those socialised at the time when
the Whitlam government was dismissed maintain the lowest level of support.
However, the results show that, by 2016, young Australians were more supportive of
retaining the monarchy than their seniors. When the issue held more salience amid royal
scandals in the 1990s and politics surrounding the referendum, younger birth cohorts also
had low levels of support. Salience of the issue conditions cohort opinion. Overall, moving
from the highest support to lowest support there is 0.6 change in the dependent variable
on the 1 to 4 scale.
Similarly, there are modest eects for family income in the survey years of 1993 and in
surveys taken between 2007 and 2013, but there is far greater support for the monarchy in
lower-income households than high-income households (with an income threshold eect
that improves support for a republic around $60,000). When the issue salience was high,
low-income households and those in the youngest birth cohorts shied their support away
from the monarchy. Support returned as the issue declined in salience.
How have the influences on attitudes to retaining the monarchy changed over
Education has an enduring eect on opposition to the monarchy. Overall, on the
dependent variable’s 1 to 4 scale the eect of a university education produces on average a
0.2 change. e direction of the eect has been durable but its size has shied. Education
had a small eect in 2013 and when the issue was at its most salient in the late 1990s.
Otherwise, when the issue has not been salient, education has had a larger eect on
attitudes. Gender has typically had a signicant eect, with women tending to support
retaining the monarchy more than men. e eect was at its highest in 2016 at 0.3, which
was twice the eect size of a university education for that year. Most years it has been
lower. Mansillo (2016, 225) found during high and low issue salient periods, female British
migrants and Australian-born women had identical attitudes on the issue; this was not
the case for male British migrants, who exhibit more support for the institution than
Australian-born men. Furthermore, the same study found a signicant eect for education
levels only for women in low salience periods; men and women in high salience periods
did not demonstrate a signicant eect for education levels, and age had a linear eect
for men but no eect among women (Mansillo 2016, 226, 229). e nding that the
6 Additivity or linearity cannot be reasonably attributed to age or income on the dependent variable. For
example, the eect of a change in family income by $10,000 from $20,000 to $30,000 for an individual
would be more consequential than the same increase in family income from $100,000 to $110,000.
7 Family income has been ination-normalised to 2016 dollars.
Australian Social Attitudes IV
eect for gender has strengthened in recent years and the evidence from Mansillo (2016)
suggest there is signicant scope for future research to unpack and explain these gendered
dierences in attitudes.
Over time, there has been a collapse in the eect size of Coalition partisanship
on attitudes. Between 1993 and 2001, the eect size halved, indicating a realignment
was underway that le an enduring structural weakness in support for the monarchy.
Measured on the 1 to 4 scale of the dependent variable, Coalition partisanship had an
eect of 0.84 in 1993 but has remained between 0.45 and 0.51 since the referendum
in 1999. Postmaterialism has a small but enduring eect that produces opposition to
the monarchy. e small eect sizes were counter to expectations that social values
predominantly inform attitudes.8Social values are typically thought to be central to
attitude formation. Like the dependent variable, the index scaled from 1 to 4. e models
nd signicant but ranging eect sizes. Moving from pure materialist to pure
postmaterialist positions, the models nd eects that range between 0.12 and 0.41 change
in the dependent variable on its 1 to 4 scale.
e level of political interest has an overall stable eect in weakening support for the
monarchy. e change in the dependent variable from the lowest to the highest level of
political interest ranges from 0.13 to 0.46 over the period studied. e eect is about four
times the size of gender for most years, or twice the eect size of a university education.
is result suggests that the disengaged in politics prefer the status quo.
Overall, however, the largest eect identied is produced by birth cohorts. is is followed
by large eects for political partisanship, political disinterest and postmaterialism while
controls for gender, family income, and education have relatively small eects on attitudes.
Cohorts and media attention in shaping support for the Australian republican
ese ndings raise a follow-up question. If much of the variance can be explained by
generational socialisation, what could explain the improvement across most generations
long aer their formative years? ere is substantial attitudinal variance by political
interest levels despite attitudes being structured around birth year cohorts. Scholars such
as Kullmann (2008) argue that Australia’s republican ‘penchant’ exists, unlike in New
Zealand, because the issue has received long-term media attention. Media increases the
exposure of citizens to various issues, which increases the issue’s perceived importance
and attitudes are considered with reference to media frames, partisanship or ideological
predispositions. Media activity has the potential to prime public opinion. Media salience –
the prominence given to a topic in media content – of the Australian republic issue
provides stimuli that could inuence the public’s attitudes. I now turn to test the hypothesis
that the topic’s high media salience provides a stimulus that reduces support for the
monarchy. is also provides an opportunity to more condently identify the non-
monotonous birth year eect curve shape.
Agenda-setting theory holds that media organisations have an ability to inuence
the salience of issues on the public agenda (McCombs 2005). Editors and producers
8 e nding of small eect size reinforces measurement concerns in the literature (Bean and
Papadakis 1994; Davis and Davenport 1999).
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
use their editorial judgement to determine whether they will cover an issue and how
much prominence they assign to it. Media consumers infer issue importance from its
prominence within a news broadcast or page position and article length allocated in
a newspaper. News media content is more likely to reach those who have reasonably
rm opinions – people interested in politics seek out news and current aairs and those
uninterested do not. News media salience may not directly prime attitudes of uninterested
Australians who do not expose themselves to signicant volumes of news and current
aairs media. News media salience may indirectly prime attitudes of the politically
uninterested by changing the topic’s salience in other media types such as comedy
programs with a political avour (Xenos and Becker 2009) or through introducing
information through discussions with peers (Huckfeldt and Sprague 1995). Salience of a
topic in news media content could directly or indirectly have implications for attitudes.
To test whether media salience has implications for attitudes towards retaining the
monarchy, the previous regression model is repeated on the pooled AES data with a
measure of media salience and an interaction with political interest. Media salience of the
republic issue was created using a Factiva keywords search of print media mentions of an
Australian republic’ in major Australian newspapers over a year. Details of the scale are in
Appendix 9.1. e results are reported in Appendix 9.2 and Figure 9.9.
e model indicates there is a signicant negative interaction eect between low political
interest and high media salience for the republic (as described in Appendix 9.1). is means
that high media salience for the republican issue makes citizens who are politically
uninterested less inclined to support retaining the monarchy. Gender, partisanship, education,
and income have similar eects to the previous results for individual years.
By pooling the sample over the 23-year period, there is more data to better assess
the cohort socialisation thesis discussed earlier. Figure 9.9 captures birth year’s nonlinear
relationship with support for the monarchy. As described previously those who were
politically socialised around the Whitlam government’s 1975 dismissal are the least
supportive of the monarchy. ose who were socialised outside this period have less reason
to oppose this institution. e other nonlinear relationship, the eect of family income,
nds those with the most republican attitudes have equivalent 2016 ination-normalised
family incomes between $100,000 to $180,000. Family income has a considerably smaller
eect on attitudes than birth year cohorts.
Australian attitudes towards the monarchy’s retention have changed over the past two decades.
Advocates for another republic referendum face an uphill battle to convince Australians of
their cause. is is especially the case because of the growing cohorts of voters with higher
support for the monarchy than their parents. Social scientists writing about this subject two
decades ago did not foresee a shi in public opinion contrary to expectations that ‘generational
replacement’ would create a perpetual decline in support for the monarchy (see Bean 1993).
ese unexpected improvements in support for retaining the monarchy witnessed in recent
years can be explained by existing social theory. Earlier assumptions that generational
replacement would produce an ever-declining level of support for the monarchy is inconsistent
with the observations made. ese earlier thoughts on the topic can be built upon and nuanced.
By acknowledging that dierent birth cohorts were politically socialised at dierent times with
Australian Social Attitudes IV
Figure 9.9 Support for retaining the monarchy by birth year and family income
(normalised to 2016 dollars).
Source: AES 1993–2016.
Note: Family income is mean-centred on the dependent variable, which is from 1 to 4.
dierent experiences, changes in the electorate’s attitudes to the monarchy and the republican
cause can be understood. On top of this, changes in media attention to the issue (that generate
salience) provide a further temporal dimension to uctuations in public opinion. Citizens that
have little interest in politics are more prone to be swayed on the issue in high media salience
periods. When media salience was lasthigh, themediaframewas typically negativeandsupport
forthe monarchywas lower.Itremainstobe seenifmedia framing contributedtothe formation
of more negative public opinion towards the monarchy or if media salience itself changes public
opinion, as the Kullmann (2008) comparison with New Zealand suggests.
Australianattitudestowardsthe monarchyhavebeen remarkablystablebuttherehas been
a degree of malleability among Australians who are less politically interested. e structure of
attitudes for socio-political characteristics such as gender, education, partisanship, and social
values has remained relatively stable. ere have been major movements in attitudes as a
product of the interaction eect of media salience of the republic issue and low levels of
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
political interest. Levels of political interest has remained relatively stable (McAllister 2011,
63).9e evidence presented here suggests media salience has been crucial to the uctuation
in attitudes observed.
ere is a distinct birth cohort who are keenest on Australia becoming a republic. is has
implications for the potential for another republic campaign. ose keenest are increasingly
distant from the median voter and their political demands are more likely to fall on deaf ears
amongpoliticalparty eliteswho compete for votes. Despitesomeattitudinalrigidity from Baby
Boomers, there has been some warming to the monarchy over time by cohorts who have little
reasonto problematise this institution(Mansillo2016). e rolethat improvedpublic relations
and media image (Benoit and Brinson 1999) as well as ‘banal nationalism’ has had in self-
legitimising the institution should not be neglected (Billig 1998).
Australian Baby Boomers, despite being keener on an Australian republic, are on most
issues less progressive compared to Australians from Generation Y. e republic is a Baby
Boomer preoccupation and a product of their unique political socialisation. A successful
coalition for change would require more than Baby Boomers. Presently there is not enough
support for another referendum to be successful. Any campaign would need to convince a
signicantproportionof the electorateto change the Constitution.e 1999 referendumfailed
as those who supported a republic could not agree on the form that an Australian republic
should take (McAllister 2001). e double majority requirement for a majority of voters and
majority of voters within a majority of states is a very high barrier to a campaigns success.
Short of royal scandals similar to those of the 1990s that undermined the monarchy, there are
few social forces that could stop the royals from holding on to their throne.
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Australian Social Attitudes IV
Appendix 9.1
Table 9.A1: Survey item coding for regression models.
Measure Coding Notes
1 = Strongly favour Australia
becoming a republic
2 = Favour Australia
becoming a republic
3 = Favour Australia retaining
the Queen
4 = Strongly favour Australia
retaining the Queen
Gender 0 = Male
1 = Female
Partisanship 0 = Not a Coalition partisan
1 = Coalition partisan
0 = No university
1 = University qualication
1 = Pure materialist
2 = Mixed materialist
3 = Mixed postmaterialist
4 = Pure postmaterialist
is is the coding scheme adapted in Minkenberg and
Inglehart (1989).
1 = A good deal [of interest in
2 = Some [interest in politics]
3 = Not much [interest in
4 = None [No interest] at all
[in politics]
Family income Annual family incomes in
dollars that have been
standardised for ination
Family income, specically gross annual family
income, is measured ordinally in the AES between
various enumerated incomes points on a scale. is
scale’s measures have changed over the period the AES
has collected its data to reect the changes in the
Australian economy, especially ination and the
income distribution. To standardise these ordinal
measures, a ratio scale is created by taking the median
of the incomes range for a category. is is then
multiplied by the total change in ination between the
quarter that the election took place in and the quarter
of the 2016 election occurred to standardise these
measures. Ination data was sourced from the Reserve
Bank of Australia.
Birth Year Year
Republic media
0 = Least standardised media
content on an Australian
republic for a year
1 = Most standardised media
content on an Australian
republic for a year
e number of mentions of ‘the republic’, ‘Australian
republic’, ‘Australian president’, and ‘Australian Head
of State’ – but excluding ‘the republic of’ to prevent
foreign states such as the Republic of the Congo from
being added to the tally – in the print editions of the
Advertiser (Adelaide), the Age (Melbourne), the
Australian, the Australian Financial Review, the
Courier-Mail (Brisbane), Daily Telegraph (Sydney),
Herald Sun (Melbourne), Hobart Mercury (Tasmania),
Northern Territory News,Sun Herald (Sydney), Sunday
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
Measure Coding Notes
Age (Melbourne), the Sydney Morning Herald, and the
West Australian (Perth) in a year was divided by the
number of articles published in the print editions of
each year. is was conned to general news and
excluded articles categorised as relating to business,
sport or music. e use of proportions rather than
mentions was to control for the changing volume of
articles written year to year and missing publications
for earlier years. is was divided by the number of
articles in the sample for that year and standardised to
a 0 to 1 scale.
Australian Social Attitudes IV
Table 9.A2: Regression coecients (support for retaining the monarchy).
1993 1996 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010 2013 2016 Pooled
Gender 0.110*** 0.056 0.089* 0.009 0.180*** 0.076 0.245*** 0.129*** 0.304*** 0.143***
(0.036) (0.049) (0.048) (0.049) (0.050) (0.048) (0.044) (0.033) (0.040) (0.014)
Coalition Partisanship 0.840*** 0.663*** 0.549*** 0.446*** 0.511*** 0.493*** 0.453*** 0.479*** 0.504** 0.542***
(0.037) (0.050) (0.051) (0.051) (0.053) (0.050) (0.046) (0.036) (0.042) (0.015)
UniversityEducation -0.197*** -0.309*** -0.184*** -0.210*** -0.352*** -0.183*** -0.263*** -0161*** -0.157*** -0.195***
(0.052) (0.062) (0.064) (0.063) (0.063) (0.059) (0.052) (0.036) (0.044) (0.018)
PostMaterialism -0.024 -0.063** -0.071*** -0.128*** -0.137*** -0.117*** -0.038* -0.085*** -0.072*** -0.078***
(0.018) (0.025) (0.024) (0.025) (0.026) (0.025) (0.023) (0.017) (0.020) (0.007)
Political Disinterest 0.041* 0116*** 0.081** 0.154*** 0.026 0.082** 0.097*** 0.102*** 0.046* 0.096***
(0.024) (0.034) (0.033) (0.032) (0.034) (0.032) (0.029) (0.022) (0.025) (0.012)
Republic Media Salience -0.055
Political Disinterest * Republic Media Salience -.060**
Constant 1.86*** 1.927*** 1.876*** 1.916*** 2.177*** 2.065*** 1.959*** 2.148*** 2.126*** 2.032***
(0.070) (0.104) (0.097) (0.102) (0.109) (0.093) (0.088) (0.070) (0.083) (0.033)
N 2,444 1,399 1,440 1,543 1,330 1,436 1,853 3,386 2,212 17,043
Adjusted R20.234 0.177 0.129 0.132 0.159 0.144 0.115 0.103 0.105 0.129
Source: AES 1993–2016.
Figure 9.A1 Political attitudes by generation, %.
Source: AES 1993–2006.
Australian Social Attitudes IV
Figure 9.A2 Birth Year mean-centred eects on attitudes towards retaining the monarchy grouped
by each study.
Source: AES 19932016.
9 Howard’s queens in Whitlam’s republic
Figure 9.A3 Family income mean-centred eects on attitudes towards retaining the monarchy
grouped by each study.
Source: AES 19932016.
Australian Social Attitudes IV
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Full-text available
Over the past half century, the Australian public has remained divided on the issue of whether Australia should retain the monarchy or become a republic. Clive Bean found that there had been remarkable stability on the issue and evidence of a long term trend away from support for the monarchy with a sudden decline in 1992. This article adopts Bean’s longitudinal cross-sectional methods to examine the social and political basis of public attitudes. This article analyses the Australian Election Study (1993–2013) to compare Bean’s results and re-analyse earlier data from the National Social Science Surveys and Australian National Political Attitudes surveys (1967–90). Public opinion has been fluid and is now at a crossroads between the 1980s high and the 1990s lows. Cohort analysis suggests socialisation impacts long-term opinions. Gender and ethnic nationalism also influences opinion.
This article examines Australian voters’ responses to asylum seeker boat arrivals during the most recent 2013 federal election campaign. We explore this issue using a mixed-methods approach, by conducting media monitoring analytics, content analysis of Liberal Party press releases, and statistical analysis of Voting Engagement Application data. We identify the salience of the issue to the public and the media and examine the prominence of this issue in Liberal Party political messaging about asylum seekers. We then analyze voters’ attitudes to asylum seeker boat arrivals using Vox Pop Labs’ Vote Compass data (n = 438,050). The survey is of unprecedented size in Australia and contains information collected during the election campaign about citizens’ attitudes to policy issues, enabling fine-grained analyses of voter attitudes at the electorate and subgroup level. We find voters’ attitudes toward asylum seekers, particularly in marginal electorates, impacted on vote intention. This effect is stronger among subgroup voters who care the most about that issue. These results suggest that the increase in the salience of the asylum seeker issue favored the winning Liberal Party.
Summary. Recent work by Reiss and Ogden provides a theoretical basis for sometimes preferring restricted maximum likelihood (REML) to generalized cross-validation (GCV) for smoothing parameter selection in semiparametric regression. However, existing REML or marginal likelihood (ML) based methods for semiparametric generalized linear models (GLMs) use iterative REML or ML estimation of the smoothing parameters of working linear approximations to the GLM. Such indirect schemes need not converge and fail to do so in a non-negligible proportion of practical analyses. By contrast, very reliable prediction error criteria smoothing parameter selection methods are available, based on direct optimization of GCV, or related criteria, for the GLM itself. Since such methods directly optimize properly defined functions of the smoothing parameters, they have much more reliable convergence properties. The paper develops the first such method for REML or ML estimation of smoothing parameters. A Laplace approximation is used to obtain an approximate REML or ML for any GLM, which is suitable for efficient direct optimization. This REML or ML criterion requires that Newton–Raphson iteration, rather than Fisher scoring, be used for GLM fitting, and a computationally stable approach to this is proposed. The REML or ML criterion itself is optimized by a Newton method, with the derivatives required obtained by a mixture of implicit differentiation and direct methods. The method will cope with numerical rank deficiency in the fitted model and in fact provides a slight improvement in numerical robustness on the earlier method of Wood for prediction error criteria based smoothness selection. Simulation results suggest that the new REML and ML methods offer some improvement in mean-square error performance relative to GCV or Akaike's information criterion in most cases, without the small number of severe undersmoothing failures to which Akaike's information criterion and GCV are prone. This is achieved at the same computational cost as GCV or Akaike's information criterion. The new approach also eliminates the convergence failures of previous REML- or ML-based approaches for penalized GLMs and usually has lower computational cost than these alternatives. Example applications are presented in adaptive smoothing, scalar on function regression and generalized additive model selection.
The use of wedge issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and immigration has become standard political strategy in contemporary presidential campaigns. Why do candidates use such divisive appeals? Who in the electorate is persuaded by these controversial issues? And what are the consequences for American democracy? In this provocative and engaging analysis of presidential campaigns, Sunshine Hillygus and Todd Shields identify the types of citizens responsive to campaign information, the reasons they are responsive, and the tactics candidates use to sway these pivotal voters. The Persuadable Voter shows how emerging information technologies have changed the way candidates communicate, who they target, and what issues they talk about. As Hillygus and Shields explore the complex relationships between candidates, voters, and technology, they reveal potentially troubling results for political equality and democratic governance. The Persuadable Voter examines recent and historical campaigns using a wealth of data from national surveys, experimental research, campaign advertising, archival work, and interviews with campaign practitioners. With its rigorous multimethod approach and broad theoretical perspective, the book offers a timely and thorough understanding of voter decision making, candidate strategy, and the dynamics of presidential campaigns.
List of illustrations Acknowledgements 1. Beginnings 2. Newcomers, c. 1600-1792 3. Coercion, 1793-1821 4. Emancipation, 1822-1850 5. In thrall to progress, 1851-1888 6. National reconstruction, 1889-1913 7. Sacrifice, 1914-1945 8. Golden age, 1946-1974 9. Reinventing Australia, 1975-2008 10. What next? Sources of quotations Guide to further reading Index.
This study examines hypotheses of attitude transmission across three ideological domains (gender roles, politics, religion) to access the adequacy of direct socialization, status inheritance, and reciprocal influence models in a developmental aging perspective. Data are from 2,044 individuals, members of three generation families, grouped to form parent-youth (G2-G3) and grandparent-parent (G1-G2) dyads. Results suggest, first, that there is little convergence of parent-child attitudes with age when viewed cross-sectionally. Second, status inheritance processes do account for a substantial amount of observed parent-child similarity, but parental attitudes continue to significantly predict childrens' orientations after childhood. Third, child influences on parental attitudes are relatively strong and stable across age groups, while parental influence decreases with age, although the exact pattern of influence varies by attitude domain.