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Cultures at War

Cultures at War: Moral Conflicts in Western Democracies

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 302
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  • Book Info
    Cultures at War
    Book Description:

    "This book marries rigorous scholarship with riveting examples of morality policy.... The role of values, ethics, and competing moral visions in public policy has long needed treatment of this scope and clarity." - Leslie A. Pal, Carleton University

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0226-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. 1 Introduction: A New Politics for a New Century
    (pp. 11-22)

    Why did the United States constitutionalize abortion on demand when most Americans were opposed? How could Canada abolish capital punishment despite overwhelming opposition by the Canadian people? What would inspire Catholic France to legalize same-sex unions against the preferences of most French Catholics? Surely it is not because morality policies are too trivial or routine to be recognized by ordinary citizens since, all observers agree, these conflicts are highly visible, intense, and contagious.It is because morality policy is rule by elitesnot the people. And this is happeningnotin authoritarian regimes but in Western nations that proudly proclaim...

  5. PART ONE Raw Material for a Politics and Policy of Moral Conflict

    • 2 Status Anxiety and Political Ideology
      (pp. 25-46)

      Status anxiety in postmaterialist societies knows no ideological boundaries. If status anxiety leads to preservationist politics on the Right, then most assuredly status anxiety excites political demands for equalization on the Left. What is commonly understood as “identity politics” are essentially campaigns by “victim” groups—women, racial and ethnic minorities, homosexuals, and indigenous peoples—to elevate their social status by gaining political recognition and legal rights as members of groups, not as autonomous individuals. Obviously it matters whether a group is super-ordinate or subordinate in the social hierarchy of a nation. We begin with the social psychological theory of how...

    • 3 Cultural Theory and Warring Cultures
      (pp. 47-62)

      To stand back and compare the social and political institutions of Europe and North America at the dawn of the new millennium with those at the end of the nineteenth century makes us keenly aware of the profound social changes experienced by that generation. In traditional societies, where rigid barriers divide established groups and outsiders, class and status systems were mutually reinforcing. Class and status tended tooverlapas high class and high status almost always involved the same groups. “Consumption in the upper class or aristocracy,” observes Featherstone, “tends more towards the reproduction of a stable status system …...

  6. PART TWO Morality Politics by Unconventional Means

    • 4 Breaking Into or Breaking Apart the Political System
      (pp. 65-106)

      Our discussion turns to the agenda-setting process of “how issues are created and why some controversies or incipient issues come to command the attention and concern of the formal centers of decision-making, while others fail.”¹ Policy analysts differentiate between thesystemic(or popular) agenda, which includes all the myriad problems identified in society by the public, mass media, and interest groups, and theinstitutional(or governmental) agenda where public authorities enact policies to redress specific problems. The systemic agenda is much broader and varied, whereas the institutional policy agenda is more focused.

      Many analysts utilize a stages model of the...

    • 5 Politicians Strike Back: Legislative Restraints on Morality Policy
      (pp. 107-136)

      The twentieth century was unkind to those politicians and intellectuals who wished to slow the encroachments of powerful executives on legislative prerogatives. The liberal ideal of limited government during the nineteenth century gave way to the ascendancy of collectivist ideologies after World War I and the rise to power of social democracy in Westernized nations. The advent of a large welfare state required a robust state apparatus and policy experts to carry out the increasing responsibilities of government. Not only did communists and fascists of various shades reject parliamentary democracy as an outright sham, but even social democrats and many...

    • 6 The Juridicization of the Morality Policy Process
      (pp. 137-172)

      The requirement of cabinet responsibility, ministerial control of parliamentary time and the policy agenda, and the emergence of majoritarian or dominant one-party coalition governments are not the only reasons for the political weakness of legislatures. There is also what Alex Stone terms the “juridicization” of the policy process as a result of intervention by high courts. Through judicial review, legislative enactments are increasingly crafted, directly or indirectly, by rulings from judges. Because parliamentary sovereignty is so deeply ingrained in continental legal scholarship and often divorced from the study of the policy process, many European academics have only recently begun to...

    • 7 Bypassing Elites: Morality Policy by Plebiscite
      (pp. 173-198)

      Political elites occasionally will socialize conflict over morality policy by deferring hard choices to the electorate in popular plebiscites, but the more typical use of referendums is by single-issue activists who want to bypass the political establishment. One would expect that, with exceptions, parliamentarians would not encourage mechanisms of direct democracy designed to weaken representative government, although the governing party may seek to avoid policy responsibility or to engender political legitimacy on highly controversial issues. Gordon Smith says a favoured approach to classifying referendums is according to their scope and subject: decisions on the constitutional make-up of the regime, decisions...

  7. PART THREE Uncompromising Ends of Morality Policy

    • 8 Building Political Consensus and the Public Peace
      (pp. 201-238)

      Where Ronald Inglehart contemplated value consensus in the postmaterialist age, Scott Flanagan foresaw a “New Left” opposing a “New Right” on such issues as abortion, women’s liberation, and gay rights. By again borrowing Kenneth Meier’s distinction between “one-sided” and “two-sided” morality policy, we believe that both Inglehart and Flanagan are credible, depending upon issue and circumstance.¹ Some morality policies are really non-issues that exhibit widespread agreement in certain Western democracies, while others engender controversy. Those that exhibit a degree of consensus may still activate a minority of dissenters, but they do not pose risks to democratic politics and political stability....

  8. 9 Conclusion: Morality Policy and Democratic Governance
    (pp. 239-252)

    This book has investigated morality policy in five democracies. In his inventory of such disputes in 22 westernized nations, Donley Studlar lists these: abortion, gambling, alcohol/drugs, religious education/Sunday observance, animal rights, homosexuality, capital punishment, pornography, divorce, euthanasia, women’s rights, ethnic/racial minorities, and gun control. However, their frequencies vary widely, because some are so old that they are no longer contentious, whereas others are too new to hit the political radar screen. First ranked is abortion, having been debated in every country; third-ranked homosexuality was politicized in nine nations; but capital punishment was subjected to political debate only in four (United...


    • A.1 Attitudes Toward Capital Punishment in Five Western Democracies
      (pp. 253-258)
    • A.2 Attitudes Toward Abortion in Five Western Democracies
      (pp. 259-266)
    • A.3 Attitudes Toward Homosexuality in Five Western Democracies
      (pp. 267-274)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 275-296)
  11. Index
    (pp. 297-302)