Paul Keating, tax alchemist? A study proposing the interpretive tools of Pierre Bourdieu

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What is the extent of Paul Keating s contribution to tax reform during his time as Australia?s Treasurer (1983-1991) and Prime Minister (1991-1996)? Even today he is an active commentator on government policy. Some would claim that Keating simply marketed the tax reform ideas of others to the electorate. Alternatively, using the metaphor of a tax alchemist, he transformed existing tax reform ideals and built upon them. This study, while acknowledging more common theoretical approaches to understanding tax reform, argues for an alternative: Pierre Bourdieu s social practice theory. Thus an interpretive approach is proposed to analyse the relational processes between tax reform actors, but with a focus in Paul Keating. The Bourdieusian concepts of field , habitus and capital were developed to help explain contextualised social and relational encounters; and have been previously applied to legal issues. My investigation finds that these tools are appropriate to explain tax reform, given the scenario of the interrelatedness of Keating s persona and struggles with the tax institutions and its elite political, civil sector, business, academic and trade union actors. Keating s early tax reforms are now doxa : normative elements of the tax structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77 - 99
Number of pages23
JournalAustralasian Tax Teachers Association. Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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