'The spirit of local patriotism': Progress and populism in Sydney's northern suburbs in the 1920s

Paul Ashton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Local patriotism emerged in Australia in the suburbs from the mid nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, influenced by progressivism, it was a populist reaction by emerging suburbs and municipalities to state power and the political and cultural dominance of the city. Promoting the local as the anchor for a chain of national and imperial being and the place where moral capital was renewed, local patriotism paradoxically elevated ties of community and locality above all else. It also exhibited a 'reactionary modernism' which embraced new technology while seeking to maintain traditional values linked to the land and a British inheritance. Ultimately, self-interest - driven by exclusivism, anti-urbanism and class quarantining - underpinned local patriotism in Australia. Although its currency was relatively short-lived, it remained persuasive in Australian political culture. This article examines local patriotism through a case study of Sydney's North Shore and northern suburbs in the first three decades of the twentieth century, drawing extensively on a local newspaper, The Suburban Herald.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-177
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Local patriotism
  • North Sydney
  • Populism
  • Progressivism
  • Suburban newspapers


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