Visual Sociology of Christmas

Here is a visual sociology of Christmas in Melbourne.

The photos show a Melbourne nativity scene features people of colour. Not much further away in the Myer windows (second photo) it’s a different story… or rather the same story with only White figures.

Below we see the people of Melbourne congregating around a sacred red clothed deity, whose name scholars say is likely to be Lego, god of coloured blocks.


The joys of finding toys depicting people of colour when completing Christmas shopping for all the junior OtherSociologists!

I followed this scientific formula to find the perfect gifts: Is this artefact promoting education and/or creativity? (Score up to 40 points). Is this challenging White heterosexist patriarchy? (Up to 40 points). Can I play with this? (Up to 20 points but still very important). I’ve yet to see the new Star Wars (catching it with a friend on Monday! ) but this figurine based on John Boyega’s character seems to meet the criteria. Unbelievably awesome to have a toy that’s a person of colour on Australian shelves, even if he’s British!

White Christmas

Welcome to another edition of the sociology of Christmas. It is 36 degrees in Canberra, Australia’s capital. This is the Christmas scene in our major shopping centre in the city. It includes reindeer, which are not native to our country, and snow, which is only found in a handful of mountain places at certain times of the year. Most places in Australia are hot and dry. Christmas is bushfire season due to the extreme weather. Australia borrows its Christmas aesthetic from commercial USA. This is a beautiful scene but wildly inaccurate. When we see rare local depictions of Australian Xmas, it’s usually cloaked in irreverent humour, such as a cartoon koala in board shorts or Santa in a white singlet standing over a barbecue holding a stubby (a can of beer). Americanised Christmas scenes evoke (manufactured) reverence through pristine snow. Australia’s natural beauty is not really used to the same effect.

State Bank Christmas Club

“Wind up the year with cash to splash.” This design by Australian advertiser and graphic designer Les Mason. A retrospective of his work is now on at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Christmas Tree

Moving north, here’s a  Christmas tree made of bicycles in regional New South Wales. Fun and promoting an healthy lifestyle.

The Book Tree.

Smells like Christmas Spirit

Tshirt spotted at Big W for $15. This is capitalism at work, with the commercialisation of a band that publicly struggled with commercial success. This shirt tells the story of a muscian who had a very difficult time managing the world with new social norms of celebrity, who became even more famous after death, upon which time his band’s image is then used to sell all sorts of junk. This is the full circle of anomie.

Then again this smiley face was an ironical play on the 1980s symbol used to popularise the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” ethos and song. Prior to Nirvana, the symbol was previously used in a similar countercultural way to promote other shows ranging from sex performances to acid house. So perhaps this tshirt belongs in the aisles of an international department store conglomerate.