Social Psychology

Tutorial 6:
Australian Zeitgeist

Last updated:
20 Sep 2005


  • The goal of this tutorial is to introduce the social psychological notion of "Zeitgeist" and to explore current provocative thinking about the Australian Zeitgeist of the present and where it might be leading Australian society.
  • A further goal is to expose student's to the analysis and thinking of Hugh Mackay about the Australian mind and mood, and social trends, issues and opportunities for Australian society.
  • The practical aspect of the tutorial is to engage in a small group "Magic Lamp" (wishlist construction and discussion) exercise for identifying aspects of Australian society which could be improved via social psychological action

Learning Names

  • Use Name Tags (optional)
  • Small group discussions should encourage name use and learning.

What is Zeitgeist?

  • Ask who has heard of Zeitgeist - can they define
  • It means "spirit of the times" - for more see, Google Definitions

What is our current Australian Zeitgeist?

  • Task: Note down as many Australian social facts and figures as you can from this speech by Hugh Mackay.
  • Social disengagement: A breeding ground for fundamentalism
    (; link goes to summary transcript; in tutorials we will listen a 53 min CD audio)
    For the past thirty years, Australia (and many other countries) have been living through a cultural revolution.  During periods of social upheaval and transformation and transformation it seems that simplistic world-views increase their appeal.  In this lecture, Hugh Mackay, a social psychologist who attempts to map the mind and mood of Australia, discusses what he sees as trends, issues, and opportunities for Australian society.


Australian Magic Lamp Activity

You are given a magic lamp which, when you rub it, allows you wishes about Australian Society.
  1. Create a Personal Wish List for Australia
3 things YOU would like to change about Australian society A suggested solution for each












  1. Small group discussion -> Small Group Wish List
    • Discuss each person's wishes and solutions
    • Group to decide on its 3 most important wishes, each with a solution
3 things YOUR GROUP would like to change about Australian society A suggested solution for each












  1. Large group discussion
    • Each small group presents its problems and solutions to the broader group