Identifying a Social Disruption: Effects of New South Wales Lockout Laws on Sydney, Australia

With over a year of research and 33 hours of data collection, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the narratives of individuals and communities effected by New South Wales lockout policies. In January 2019 I received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship to travel to Sydney and conduct ethnographic research. In May 2019 my thesis work received distinction from the Occidental College department of Sociology. 

The research focuses on the implementation of lockout laws by the New South Wales governance in Sydney, Australia in 2014. These laws were enforced in efforts to reduce alcohol-related violence within the city’s entertainment precincts, Kings Cross and the Central Business District. Based on twenty-three qualitative interviews with Sydney residents, business owners, musicians and activists, and fifteen hours of ethnographic data, the research identifies the policies as a social disruption. With a theoretical framework informed by structural functionalism and subcultural theory, the paper examines the unintended effects of New South Wales lockout laws. The findings demonstrate a community reacting in shock paired with an increasing in policing. As the disruption leads to an impact on the nighttime and symbolic economies, this has led to the loss of cultural spaces, resulting in adaptation and displacement of subcultural communities. The research also finds another phase of collective reaction, with the mobilization of social movement turned political party Keep Sydney Open.

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