Is Australia at a tipping point, literally?

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Is Australia at a tipping point, literally?
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Australia is gearing up to move into a tipping culture much like the one that exists in the U.S., a University of Melbourne PhD student has concluded.

Faculty of Arts PhD candidate John Frank Burgess has conducted an extensive study into the origins, drivers and social consequence of tipping in the U.S. and Australia over the past two years by observing bar patrons in both countries.

(Read More: Should American restaurants abolish tipping? )

He found that as Australia moves further away from a tightly regulated workforce, tipping is going to become much more prevalent.

"[Australians] are still opposed to it on a moral point of view, but all of a sudden it's starting to become a lot more acceptable," said Burgess.

(Watch This: Restaurant tipping outdated?)

Visions is a fortnightly mini-documentary detailing research and cultural activities at the University of Melbourne. Tipping analyst and PhD student John Frank Burgess discusses a new analysis that warns Australians will be expected to tip like Americans, if further labor market deregulation occurs.

According to his research, a tipping culture first emerged in the U.S. in the early 1900's when a deregulated labor market allowed employers to push wages down, forcing waiters and bartenders to supplement their pay packets with tips. Now, in the U.S. tips are considered almost mandatory from a social obligation standpoint.

Australia's more tightly regulated workforce has so far prevented a strong culture of tipping from emerging. However, as the country continues upon its path to a deregulated labor-market, Australians are starting to feel more obliged to tip.

"Australia's relatively well regulated labor market has so far protected workers from the need to chase tips," he added. "But if we continue down a path of labor market deregulation, then sooner or later tipping will become normalized," he added.

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Burgess' thesis, titled 'Exchange in American and Australian Public Bars: Tipping as a Social Fact' also explored the reasons why people feel compelled to tip in general.

They included a sense of social obligation, to underscore personal relationships, to display financial standing, as a conversation starter or simply to get rid of loose change.

Through his research, Burgess found that a tipping in the U.S. had led to stronger relationships between bartenders and patrons.

"In the U.S. it's because of the tipping relationship [that] each party becomes concerned with the experience each other has, all of a sudden they get to know each other, and this happens quite quickly. It really requires a lot of emotional engagement to be a bartender in the U.S.," he said.

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"People in Australia need to decide what kind of country they want to live in," said Burgess. "If it's one where it's guided by free market principals, then that's fine. But one of the consequences of that is a shift of power towards employers, and another consequence will be tipping."

-By CNBC's Katie Holliday: Follow her on Twitter @hollidaykatie



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