Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2013 March Examining social change over time

26/02/2014
Examining social change over time
A JCU academic has been invited to give the first presentation of the Australian Ambassador’s 2013 Speakers Series in the United States next week.

Examining social change over time

A James Cook University academic has been invited to give the first presentation of the Australian Ambassador’s 2013 Speakers Series in the United States next week.

Professor Robbie Robertson, Head of the School of Arts & Social Sciences at JCU Townsville, will present Inequality: Behind the Quiet Revolution of Social Change.

The 2013 Speakers Series is hosted by the Hon Kim Beazley, AC, Australian Ambassador to United States of America.

The first presentation will be held in Washington DC on Tuesday (19 March).

Professor Robertson’s presentation will be based on the question: Does equality as a principle for policymakers really matter?

“I call myself a development historian,” Professor Robertson said.

“One of the tasks of a development historian is to try to understand how – and why - human societies change over time, rather than just chart changes via the national lens.

“The national lens is important, but in focusing solely on nations we can lose sight of dynamics not always available to us in the detail of national histories.”

Professor Robertson said he would survey three broad periods of social change - the 19th century, the post-war decades, and the turn of the century.

“I am asking whether the incompleteness of national social change might better be explained by reference to inequality rather than power politics,” he said.

“Looking at this period in history, I will explore the growing centrality of inequality in contemporary social, economic and political discourse and reflect on the global impact of social change in these three periods, focusing in particular on the United States, Britain and China.

“I will lightly survey three broad periods of social change over the past two centuries, and argue that inequality – rather than power politics - better explains their shortcomings.”

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