In comments Ad proposed this interesting taxonomy of Kiwi social types.
It’s an exercise that takes place in the context of social inequality. It’s unfair, it’s highly damaging, and it’s at it’s highest level ever in NZ. Ad wrote: “my intent was to broaden out your discussion from straight vertical income calibrations to this kinds of lives we see ourselves within, and how inequality might matter to all of them. One of Treasury’s core missions is to make us all wealthier. But “wealthier” might express itself in different realms and definitions of personal freedom and generative activity.”
Here’s the original comment:
In my coarse view New Zealand now has a set of lives and subcultures that increasingly do not intersect.
1. The Shareholders
Those earning over $150,000 per person, with multiple properties and regular trips, who glide over the world and who can be seen in Life and Leisure magazine. Most likely found in Matakana, North Shore, Remuera, and Palm Beach. Or retiring to Cornwall. Frightfully fit, or at least vain.
2. The Educated bourgeoise property owners.
Have degrees, salaries, as much mobility as they could wish for, live in inner, East, and Auckland and North Shore and North Auckland, plus the few remaining in Maori Hill, Karori, Khandallah. Best calibrated by the quality of their landscaping and age of their car. Retiring to Wanaka, Arrowtown, Queenstown, Tauranga, and Gold Coast. With standard “economic conservative and moral liberal” values, at least deep into the evening.
3. The Rural Conservative
Live in smaller towns, highly sensitive to commodity and dollar-cross shifts. A decreasing strata found in Balclutha, Gore, Hawkes Bay, Bay of PLenty, Waikato, Masterton, and Kerkeri.
4. The Outsiders
The strata who live in the black or grey economies, often rural in Northland or North Island East Coast, bumping along the bottom, living from cash job to cash job with no thought for mobility. Often found in the urban-rural villages such as Waikato Heads, Ahipara, Houhora, deep forested enclaves, Golden Bay, and Coromandel village.
5. The Unstable
Those one injury or one bad payday away from bankruptcy or credit card default, under incredible daily stress. Found everywhere one cares not to look, but particularly in places such as Mataura, Manurewa, Avondale, Dunedin South, the far north. And out of rural slums, around Kawerau and other dying towns, in all the jails, often out of inchoate desperation or damage to one’s own life.
6. The Old Poor
In rest homes of dubious quality, particularly in Auckland’s west, Tauranga, Dunedin’s periphery, utterly beholden to the state’s largesse, quickly draining through their equity if they had any, sustained within incredible solitude and resultant institutionalised neuroses. Often with one partner dead. Have Readers’ Digests in their toilets for reading.
7. The Old Doughty
Those who had retired, kept their house, garden towards daily self-sufficiency through a lifetime of frugality, bump along on the NZSuper reasonably, whose parents and they themselves instilled astonishing discipline in to their daily lives, and who have dedicated this same ethic to their children, who have largely left the country. Still bottle their own fruit. Often retired public servants from a bygone age, such as teachers.
8. The Immigrant Family
A relentless telic drive to redemption through work that enables at least one of their children to gain
mobility to at least one of the classes above, keeping at bay the shame of ever returning to the origin country, but largely sustaining multiple jobs, if they get them, on close to minimum wage. Whose children gain some of this drive in turn, or fall into and out of the underworld.
9. Highly mobile Greeny Liberals
Found generally in Grey Lynn, Titirangi, Aro Valley, and a few in Ponsonby. The have huge expectations, great hope in the redemptive capacity of New Zealand’s musical digital, and visual arts, and buy everything possible at farmers markets. Subscribe to Good Magazine. Have some intersection with the Outsiders if they are individual contractors to the creative sector.
You can see by the way I have framed them which cultures are in the ascendant, which in the decline. The census will show this mobility in stark relief. Each one of those is a kind of politics; each crudely drawn. We know who we are, who has been missed out.
The normative direction to the original post is: who do we want more of? What kind of people are we becoming? Do we like it? Can we really do anything about it?
For me the deeper questions are along: does MMP and fractal democratic representation simply ameliorate splitter capitalism? Would FPP make mobility-from-poverty and mobility-from-middleclass more stark?
And after that: is our political system now so weak in its instruments that fewer and fewer will be able to change their strata?