A minor line from an article about the 2010 Victorian state election caught my attention, but it’s taken me some time to write about it. The electorate of Melbourne is described thus:
Comprising the former working-class suburbs of Fitzroy, North Melbourne, Brunswick and Richmond, the electorate is home to many progressive-thinking, educated professionals – a tribe Monash University lecturer Paul Strangio dubbed ‘post-materialist cosmopolitans’.
I’ve been reflecting on this description of inner city residents as ‘post-materialist cosmopolitans’. It’s easy to be a post-materialist when you have already achieved the financial security required to live a comfortable life.
This comfortable status is obviously not enjoyed by everyone in this electorate or these suburbs. The ‘post-materialist cosmopolitans’ are the educated middle class who love art, travel the world and can afford to pursue experiences because the conspicious acquisition of mere goods has trickled down the social ladder to become the obsession of the increasingly affluent blue collar working class.
The educated middle class own property and wear expensive clothes, which are material goods, but increasing we spend less than we can afford to on material goods. We can afford cars but choose on principle to cycle and use public transport. We could send our children to private schools but choose to support public schools. We are a smug minority conscious of, and wishing to be rewarded for, our altruism.
Are you a post-materialist cosmopolitan?