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Expert Explains Why It's Problematic To Call Someone A 'Bogan' Or A 'Hipster'

Charisa Bossinakis


Expert Explains Why It's Problematic To Call Someone A 'Bogan' Or A 'Hipster'

They're seemingly harmless phrases that are often thrown around in almost every social setting, but an expert has revealed class division is elicited by terms like 'bogan' and 'hipster'.

Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Newcastle Steve Threadgold sat down with ABC RN's Saturday Extra and said he has an issue with these Aussie slang words and the particular imagery it evokes.

"These are ways that class is represented and spoken about in the public sphere, without really talking about class ... 'Bogan' has tended to stand in for vulgar working class tastes and 'hipster' for ironic middle class consumer cultures," he said.

He added that the term 'hipster' doesn't have the same negative connotation as' bogan'.

"What's interesting is that the hipster is often (portrayed) as a quite ironic, almost playful figure, while the bogan tends to elicit much more denigration.

"The bogan is seen as doing things wrong."

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Upon hearing the word 'hipster', we usually envision a progressive, soy-latte, lactose-intolerant, festival go-er; however 'bogan' has become synonymous with blue-collar workers or those who are crass.

"(They) become a representation of cultural aspects of class, particularly around taste," Prof Threadgold said. "And then, by using this figure, you don't need to say 'working class people are this' you can invoke 'the bogan.'"

Prof Threadgold is very familiar with the top of the class division as he co-edited a new book called Class in Australia, with fellow researcher Associate Professor Jessica Gerrard, which looks at how social class exists within our culture.

The book also explores how we use 'problematic substitutes' when discussing class.

In 2014, Roland Sussex wrote an article for ABC News, where he explained how Australian colloquialism can frequently conjure up stereotypes.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

"We should note, in a spirit of social responsibility, that all these terms are examples of classism.

"We can talk about the words in the abstract provided that we are dispassionate and objective.

And these terms may cut even deeper as of late, with CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service Cassandra Goldie confirming to ABC News that social class is more rigid than ever, as affluent people are perceived to be even more wealthy in the wake of the pandemic.

"Unless we get some major changes to policy directions here, we will see an increasingly divided society, both in terms of income adequacy and in terms of wealth behind you," she said.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Australia

Charisa Bossinakis
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