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On the beach: Exploring the complex egalitarianism of the Australian beach
chapterposted on 14.02.2018, 00:00 by Elizabeth Ellison
Australia, internationally, is known as a beach loving country, particularly in popular culture. The beach did not figure significantly in academic discussion before the 1980s when Fiske, Hodge, and Turner (1987: 54) researched the beach as a space of myth, seeing it as an integral part of the modern Australian identity. One common myth in Australia is that the beach is an equaliser, a place of multiple ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and genders (Dutton 1985). I agree that the beach remains a significant aspect of Australian identity; however, limiting its meaning to a mythic space contributing to a homogenous national identity is not adequate. This paper will explore how Australian texts comment on or challenge the myth of the beach as an egalitarian space. I argue that recent Australian texts show a more complex, layered representation of this concept; and that the beach also in this respect can no longer be understood as a myth transcending difference.