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Social capital in a tolerant society? a response to treasurer Costello’s presentation to the Sydney Institute

By Bradley Jorgensen


On 16 July 2003 the Australian Government’s Treasurer, the Honourable Peter Costello, addressed the Sydney Institute on his vision for a tolerant Australian society. Drawing from Putnam’s research Costello argued that tolerance will flow from an active voluntary sector. However, Costello’s proposed model for a “tolerant” society fails to acknowledge that all behaviour is strategic and that voluntary association based on disinterested action is not possible. Ultimately, Treasurer Costello’s notion of tolerant society fuelled by an active voluntary sector may not lead to his desired end. Indeed, the promotion of voluntary association may contribute to the ongoing exclusion of citizens with low social capital. Amid the dynamism of the modern era some citizens such as ageing workers, slow or ineffective learners and women may be especially at risk. Accordingly, rather than advocating a policy approach that seeks to build inclusiveness through an active voluntary sector this paper recommends a policy approach that explores ways in which to strengthen learning and the wider involvement of individuals through both formal and informal means

Topics: 160800 SOCIOLOGY, 160500 POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION, ageing, mode two society, inclusive society, social capital
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1108/01443330410790948
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