Scenario – Public Response Research
Social tensions are rising in your local area, in response to recent clashes over whether celebrations should be held to mark Australia Day on January 26, in your area and more generally. You are employed by a local councillor, Harriet Lee, who has been asked to chair a meeting of community groups to discuss the issue. It has been hoped that this would be a peaceful and constructive meeting, and it is anticipated that most who attend will do so in good faith, but recently, two local lobby groups on opposing sides of this debate (‘Change for our future’ and ‘Pride in Australia’) have been distributing leaflets in the area and agitating on social media to push for protests at the meeting, encouraging their supporters to engage in demonstrations to disrupt proceedings and prevent their opponents from speaking. Both groups have been distributing their arguments widely, and Lee is concerned that they appear unwilling to consider their opponents’ perspectives.
You have been asked by Councillor Lee to analyse the arguments these groups are presenting in the leaflets they have been distributing, and provide her with a clear understanding of their claims, and guidance on how it would be best to respond to facilitate a constructive and respectful discussion. Resources: – You have been provided with a dossier of relevant material (the leaflets are below, others are available in iLearn). It contains:
A copy of the ‘Change for our future’ leaflet
A copy of ‘Pride in Australia’ leaflet
A copy of recent polls cited in their arguments in support of their positions
A collection of possibly useful material gathered by one of our junior
researchers ( Feel free to use other materials, if you wish, but this should be enough to give you some relevant background – You should mainly be focussing on the arguments contained in the leaflets).
What you need to provide
Councillor Lee thinks this meeting may have significant consequences for the peace of the community, and wants as much supporting information as possible. What she really wants from you is to know what the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s arguments are. She is keen to know if there are any fallacious arguments or misleading rhetoric that she might point out to counter the claims made in the leaflets. She is also interested in their use of the surveys they cite. On the
more positive side, she is looking to see if there is any common ground between the opposing sides, and whether there is any way she can encourage a constructive and respectful debate, to move forward as a community.
With all that in mind, then, here's what you need to deliver to Councillor Lee:
A standardisation of the argument used in the ‘Change for our future’ leaflet.
A standardisation of the argument used in the ‘Pride in Australia’ leaflet.
An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments, as you've
standardised them. (approx. 600-850 words on each argument). You should consider the strength of the inferences, any fallacies, their use of the polls they cite and the authors’ use of language and rhetoric.
A one page (approx. 300 word) "recommendation" briefing. What points should Councillor Lee emphasise in her response to the arguments? What points should she make the focus of her own positive response at the meeting? How can she best encourage a respectful and constructive debate?
(Note that the suggested breakdown of words for each section is only a suggestion, but you should write 1500-2000 words overall, not including your standardisations).
LEAFLET 1 – distributed byChange for our Future IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE!
Each year dawns with a cry from across the nation for a new national day of celebration, and yet until now our so-called leaders have never responded to the public will. We’ve now reached a point, though, that the people will no longer be silenced. We need to release ourselves from the shackles of our racist past and give up on “Australia Day”, finding instead a new, unifying day of national celebration.
Why do we need this change so desperately?
For a start, many Australians find the celebration of January 26 deeply offensive. For many Indigenous Australians, the celebration of the British invasion is a painful reminder of Australia’s tainted history and the ongoing lack of recognition afforded to the original owners of this land. This view is also widely shared by other Australians, including one Socialist Alliance councillor in Melbourne who recently likened the celebration of January 26 to a celebration of the Nazi Holocaust, in defence of her own council’s rejection of these outdated practices.
January 26 is also irrelevant to who we are now as a nation. Australia has a broad multicultural population, our citizens having come to Australia from all points of the globe, so British settlement is simply irrelevant to modern Australia.
It has also become clear that the celebration of January 26 has no significant popular backing. Recent research has shown that support for that day as our national holiday is now minimal. A nationwide representative poll conducted by Research Now and released in January by the Australia Institute found that most people don’t even know what January 26 commemorates, and they just don’t care.
So why do we continue with this inappropriate celebration, favoured only by the racist and the ignorant? It’s offensive, irrelevant and unpopular and it’s holding us back as a nation.