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The Journal of Social Psychology, 1972, 86, 319-320.


ALIENATION IN AN AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY*



Macquarie University

J. J. RAY AND A. J. SUTTON

Some results concerning student alienation in an Australian university are presented. The particular question of concern is whether alienation is irrevocably related to personal neuroticism. For a careful examination of this question, it was deemed important to separate alienation from the university and alienation from society as a whole.

A battery of scales was given to 262 students in the 1969 Introduction to Psychology course at Macquarie University, N.S.W., Australia. These included the Eysenck Neuroticism and Radicalism scales and two new scales to measure "Alienation from the University" and "General Alienation" (1). The reliability of these latter scales were .61 and .83. A "yeasaying" score was also found by adding "agree" responses across 28 conservatism and 28 radicalism items.

It was found that university alienation is not significantly related to neuroticism (r = .10, Z = 1.36), but general alienation is (r = .40). Yeasaying is not significantly related to any of the four scales. Both sorts of alienation are significantly related to political radicalism ("R" scale). The two forms of alienation themselves correlated .36.

A possibility that the correlation between neuroticism and general alienation was due to an atypical subset of items within the alienation scale was examined by analyzing the structure of that scale. A cluster analysis of the whole set of items was carried out. Six first-order clusters resulted. The distribution in these clusters of items showing a significant relationship with neuroticism was examined by the chi-squared test. Chi-squared was 9.3 which is less than the critical value of 11.07 for 5 degrees of freedom. The "neurotic" items were, therefore, shown to be distributed randomly among the clusters observed.

A comparison of responses on the two alienation scales with responses to other items in the questionnaire revealed that the university alienate (but not the general alienate) disapproved of students who are absorbed in his/her class work (r - .25), whereas the general alienate (but not the university alienate) disapproved of students who help other students with their work (r - .12). This might mean that the person alienated from society as a whole is also more intensely alienated, in the sense of even showing dislike for affectively positive interpersonal interaction.

It is confirmed, then, that students alienated from the university tend to be alienated from society as a whole. It is not, however, true that students alienated from the university tend to be neurotic. A caution is necessary in considering the correlations above with individual questionnaire items. The study does not purport to be of student activists as a group, but rather of activist tendencies in a general group of students. This may explain the overall low level of the significant correlations given. We conclude, therefore, that at least in Australia the picture of student revolt given by Lipset (2) as low neurotic rational rebellion is truest of the person alienated from the university only. The more classical picture of a disturbed and aggressive person seems truest of the student alienated from society as a whole.

School of Sociology, University of New South Wales P.O. Box 1, Kensington, 2033, New South Wales, Australia.

1. Details of these scales are to he found in "Alienation from the University" an unpublished mimeo available from either of the present authors.

2. Lipset, S. M. Students and politics. In Lipset, S. M., & Wolin, S. S. (Eds.), The Berkeley Student Revolt. N. Y.: Doubleday, 1965.

* Received in the Editorial Office, Provincetown, Massachusetts, on March 3, 1971. Copyright, 1972, by The Journal Press.

POST PUBLICATION ADDENDUM

THE ITEMS OF THE GENERAL ALIENATION SCALE AS USED ABOVE

Responses were by circling numbers from 5 to 1 to represent degrees of agreement.

1. It's hardly fair to bring children into the world the way things look for the future.
2. I often feel I am only a cog in a big machine.
3. In getting ahead in life, it's not what you know that counts, it's who you know.
4. People were better off in the old days when everyone knew just how he was expected to act.
5. Most people are willing to help someone in need,
6. Many progressive social ideas have been introduced in Australia in recent years.
7. What is lacking in the world today is the old kind of friendship that lasted for a lifetime.
8. Life seems to be rather meaningless.
9. With everything in such a state of disorder, it's hard for a person to know where he stands from one day to the next.
10. Everything changes so quickly these days that I often have trouble deciding which are the right rules to follow.
11. In our society, if you work hard you can usually get ahead.
12. I often feel that many things our parents stood for are just going to ruin before our very eyes.
13. These days a person doesn't really know whom he can count on,
14. Most members of parliament and city councillors are sympathetic people and do a good job
15. With life in Australia as it is today it is surprising that prtotests and demonstrations are not more widespread
16. It is only natural for a person to be rather fearful of the future.
17. The Australian culture is conformist and restricting.
18. Most people don't really care what happens to the next fellow.
19. Fundamentally, the world we live in is a pretty lonesome place.
20. Politicians have far too little regard for the views of the people who elect them.
21. It is difficult for people like myself to have much influence in public affairs.
22. Nowadays a person has to live pretty much for today and let tomorrow take care of itself.
23. With the present generation of leaders the future of Australia is not very bright
24. I often feel awkward and out of place
25. There are too many repressive forces in Australian society.
26. Our community is an easy and pleasant place to live in.
27. In this society, most people can find contentment.
28. It seems to me that other people find it easier to decide what is right than I do.
29. With everything so uncertain these days it almost seems as though anything could happen
30. I sometimes feel my life is being pushed in directions where I don't want to go.
31. Educated people should have more influence on this country's affairs than they do
32. The younger generation is very little understood by their elders
33. A few people at the top control most political parties

Note: The response options for each item of the scale were: Strongly Agree, Agree, Not Sure, Disagree, Strongly Agree. For items 5, 6, 11, 14, 26 & 27 these responses were scored 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively. For the remaining items, the same responses were scored 5, 4, 3. 2 and 1 respectively. The scale score is the sum of the item scores.



QUESTIONNAIRE FORMAT

Replication is one of the cornerstones of science. A new research result will normally require replication by later researchers before the truth and accuracy of the observation concerned is generally accepted. If a result is to be replicated, however, careful specification of the original research procedure is important.

In questionnaire research it has been my observation that the results are fairly robust as to questionnaire format. It is the content of the question that matters rather than how the question is presented. It is nonetheless obviously desirable for an attempted replication to follow the original procedure as closely as possible so I have given here samples of how I presented my questionnaires in most of the research I did.



Subsequent articles on Alienation are as follows:

Ray, J.J. (1974) Who are the alienated? Ch. 52 in Ray, J.J. (Ed.) Conservatism as heresy Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co.

Ray, J.J. (1982) Towards a definitive alienation scale. J. Psychology, 112, 67-70.

Ray, J.J. (1984) Alienation, dogmatism and acquiescence. J. Clinical Psychology 40, 1007-1008.

Ray, J.J. (1987) Radicalism and alienation. Journal of Social Psychology 127, 219-220.






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