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ARPA is published with the support of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at The University of Sydney. Access is free for individual and non-profit educational use.

The Editors of ARPA wish you a happy holiday season. We will resume publication in February 2015. In the meantime, please explore our extensive archive of research, commentary, and review, and see some of what we have in store for you in 2015.



Can Mandatory Disclosure Work?
Gail Pearson
Daily life in rich countries is full of complex decisions: about borrowing, saving, buying, accepting medical treatment, allowing access to personal information, choosing foods and so on. One response has been mandatory disclosure of information about all aspects of the transaction, but this solution is itself problematic. So what would help us make good decisions—less, but more appropriate information? More education? Expert advice?


Politics, Newspapers and Witch-Hunts: The Tragic Case of Baby P Karen Healy
On 3 August 2007, Peter Connelly died of injuries sustained at his family home in London aged just seventeen months. In the aftermath of Peter’s death, politicians rode high on outrage and Rebekah Brooks, the then editor of The Sun newspaper, led what she termed ‘a campaign for justice’ for Baby P that lasted years. Thanks to the Leveson Inquiry, many of the main actors in this tale—and the relationships between them—are visible in a way that they might never have been. The sight is unedifying, to say the least.

Morality, Law and the Addictive Business of Gambling Fiona Nicoll
Death in a casino: negligence, assault, manslaughter? Or business as usual? A searching account of a case at Melbourne’s Crown tries to clarify the distinction between ‘what is legal’ and ‘what is moral’. Although it may be impossible to specify, this distinction creates room for gambling industries to thrive—in an ambiguous space that is neither quite above nor altogether within the law.

Living with George Eliot Moira Gatens
George Eliot’s fictional experiments were designed to provoke the reader to reflect on the ways in which political institutions and social and sexual mores help to determine the shape of human life. Yet Rebecca Mead’s popular recent reading of Eliot’s masterpiece, Middlemarch, barely mentions social and political institutions and their differential effects on the capacities of individuals to realise their ambitions. Has Mead fallen prey to the egoism that Middlemarch so forensically—and compassionately—lays bare?

If You Are the One: Dating Shows, Reality TV, and the Politics of the Personal in Urban China Wanning Sun
Dating shows and other lifestyle television programs have become the stock in trade on Chinese television, following the commercialisation of China’s media and the globalisation of television formats. But it is Jiangsu Satellite Television’s If You Are the One, started in 2010, that has proven to be most popular across the nation—and around the world. Why does the Chinese government wish this program didn’t exist?

Symposium: Reform and Rhetoric in Australian Social Policy

Social policy is a highly contested field in Australian politics and society. This symposium at The University of Sydney brought together researchers to discuss how contemporary social policy is being talked about, designed and debated. (One more paper will be published soon.)

Andrew Forrest’s Indigenous Employment Project: Do the Arguments Stack Up? Kirrily Jordan
The Forrest Review represents the primary problem of Indigenous employment services as ill-discipline borne of overly permissive government funding. Providers of publicly-funded employment and training programs must be disciplined by tying the bulk of their income to 26-week employment outcome payments and the power to dictate what training they offer must be passed over to employers who say they can guarantee jobs. This way of defining the problem and its solutions dramatically oversimplifies the very complex realities of seeking to improve Indigenous employment participation.

Citizen-workers and Class Politics in Neo-liberal India Elizabeth Hill
Informal workers—mostly women—are among the most disadvantaged and exploited in developing countries. In India, where the state won’t use labour law to ensure they are paid wages that allow them to reproduce themselves, workers claim the state must provide welfare benefits that reduce the cost of reproduction. Capital and the market economy are left free to organise in ways that maximise global competitiveness and growth, while the neo-liberal state secures human development. How this works out for the hundreds of millions of informal workers around the globe is an open question …

Copied Worlds Jane Goodall
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you worry about identity theft? Have you ever bought a designer fake? Could you see forgery as an art form? Have you ever made an illegal download? Have you ever had a nightmare about your evil twin? Do you believe in parallel worlds? These questions open many different lines of speculation, but a recent book is interested in how they are interconnected …

Settling Accounts Frank Bongiorno
‘Settler economies’—Australia is one—had their golden age during the century between the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 and the beginning of the First World War in 1914. Thereafter, they have had to adapt to less propitious circumstances; notably, the Depression of the 1930s, the decline of British financial power, and Britain’s turn to Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War …

The Research Impact Agenda: Defining, Demonstrating and Defending the Value of the Social Sciences Michele Ferguson
There are sound moral, ethical and financial arguments that publicly-funded researchers should use their training and activities for the good of society. However, are governments’ attempts to measure whether researchers working for the good—having an ‘impact’—so well-founded? Narrow, simplistic concepts of academic and external impact fail to capture the foundational, incremental and replicating nature of much research. Measures based on such concepts risk destroying the ecologies of knowledge creation and innovation.

Abstracted Anthropology Gillian Cowlishaw
Field-working anthropologists must navigate the complex relationship between their empirical observations and the representations they create in writing about those observations. In anthropology, the self is an instrument of knowing: incorporating relationships between, for instance, colonised and coloniser can open up valuable comparative questions, but too much emphasis on the researcher’s personal involvement can lead to self-indulgent and superficial writing. What kind of anthropology do we get when the researcher skips fieldwork altogether, to focus on representations, on texts?

Robert Menzies’ Other Forgotten People Don Authur
Talk about ‘lifters’ and ‘leaners’ relies on the belief that our economy offers everyone except people with severe and permanent disabilities the opportunity to contribute. This rhetoric categorises people according to their moral and personal qualities, and positions those who miss out as less worthy than those who do not. But what about people who can’t get ahead because something in the social and economic system blocks their way? These are the perennial ‘forgotten people’, invisible to Menzies, invisible now.

From ‘Yellow Peril’ to ‘Model Minority’: Asian Americans in the 20th Century Christina Ho
Asian immigrants work hard, study hard, pay their taxes and don’t ask for welfare: this is how Asians are seen in the popular imagination in immigrant countries across the Western world. In short, they are the ‘model minority’. It hasn’t always been this way, and this apparently positive perception covers a lot of internal difference within the ‘Asian’ community, and hides continuing discrimination.

Disruptive Technologies, Strategic Plans and the Art of Comparative History Ben Tipton
In January 1961, Dwight Eisenhower’s final televised speech as President of the United States warned of the need to guard against the unwarranted influence of what he called the ‘military industrial complex’. He believed that the dangerous relationships among industrial firms, government agencies and irresponsible technocratic elites were new, a consequence of the Cold War, and most observers since have agreed. Research based on previously sealed archives finds these relationships started much earlier …

State Secrets and Leaks: The Current Debate Dennis Phillips
Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, ‘Wikileaks’: we live in the age of the high profile whistleblower who seems eager to reveal the scope and contents of government secrets. What, then, is the proper role of state secrecy in a democracy? And who—if anyone—can be trusted with assuring state secrecy is not abused?

Evan Doran and Hans Löfgren on drug promotion in Australia
Merrilyn Walton, Jennifer Smith-Merry, Judith Healy and Fiona McDonald on health care complaints
Paul Jewell and Jennie Louise on (musical) parody
Rod Tiffen on Nelson Mandela and moral capital
Kate Gleeson and Carol Johnson on Tony Abbott’s gender politics
Rob Manwaring on Labor’s ghosts
Ilektra Spandagou on Down syndrome and social change