Accepted paper:

The morality of work in a remote aboriginal community


Morgan Harrington (LocuSAR Pty. Ltd.)

Paper short abstract:

As the Commonwealth Government pledges to “put an end to sit-down welfare” in remote Aboriginal communities I consider how indigenous systems of value subvert the moral underpinnings of modern ‘work’.

Paper long abstract:

The 'moral' value of work is deeply rooted in Western, capitalist societies (Weber 1930) and the discourse surrounding Aboriginal employment shows that the Australian Government considers it a 'moral' imperative to provide employment in remote Aboriginal communities. However, an economy of resource sharing based on very different notions of what is 'moral' continues to exist in many Aboriginal communities (Gould 1982; Altman 1987), challenging the success of this endeavor. What are the obligations of remote Aboriginal people, as Australian citizens, to participate in the mainstream economy? How are these obligations undermined through pre-established cultural values? What are the obligations of the state to provide services to these communities, and how are these undermined by neoliberal economic policies? In this paper I reflect on my role as the coordinator of an employment program - designed by a government underpinned by one set of moral values - in a remote aboriginal community with a completely different set.

panel Cit01
The moral economy of citizenship in late liberalism