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The Decline of Deference

The Decline of Deference: Canadian Value Change in Cross National Perspective

Neil Nevitte
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 350
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  • Book Info
    The Decline of Deference
    Book Description:

    In this extraordinarily wide-ranging book, Neil Nevitte demonstrates that the changing patterns of Canadian values are connected.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0251-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xx)

    • 1: A Decade of Turmoil
      (pp. 1-18)

      This book is about values and value change during a remarkably volatile period in recent Canadian history, 1981–1990. During that decade, Canadians confronted a bewildering array of social, economic, and political conflicts. Together, these conflicts challenged long-standing assumptions about the nature and future of the community. No single event adequately captures the flavour of the period, but on the political front two historic conflicts clearly dominated the agenda: battles over the Constitution, and the disputes about free trade with the United States.

      The decade might have begun with the celebration of the patriation of the Constitution. Instead, it began...

    • 2: Setting the Stage
      (pp. 19-48)

      Values, or deep dispositions, are important because they guide decisions about right and wrong and because they underpin a whole array of social, economic, and political preferences. They are also important because they are foundations for action, foundations that help to explain regularities, or indeed irregularities, in people’s behaviour (Rokeach, 1968).¹ There is no consensus about the best way to determine the shape and substance of public values. In the absence of direct evidence, for example, some observers have attempted to get a fix on public values by delving into popular literature, sifting through laws and constitutions, and scanning the...


    • 3: A Changing Political Culture?
      (pp. 49-74)

      The turmoil Canadians experienced during the 1980s was most evident in the political life of the country, and in some respects this comes as no surprise. After all, politics is about the open competition of ideas and interests. The constitution was, perhaps, the biggest single issue to dominate the political agenda during the 1980s, but to see Canada’s political dynamics of the decade solely in terms of constitutional bickering has two limitations: it highlights what was probably most idiosyncratic about Canadian politics, and it deflects attention from other significant aspects of political change that had little to do with the...

    • 4: Changing Patterns of Political Participation
      (pp. 75-112)

      Whether declining public confidence in institutions and weakening attachments to traditional political parties means that our twelve democracies are “in crisis” is a matter of perspective. There are long-standing debates about how much, what kind of, or indeed even whether, democracy is good for society, and the controversies hinge partly on the balance to strike between political leaders and citizens: How much say should citizens have in political decision-making? Proponents of elite versions of democracy, for example, claim that crucial to a smoothly functioning and stable democratic polity is the freedom of political leaders to make policy decisions. Political leaders,...


    • 5: Changing Economic Cultures?
      (pp. 113-156)

      Very substantial changes have taken place in the political values of publics in the advanced industrial states, but have these changes been accompanied by shifts in other domains? Part 3 shifts the focus and considers economic values. It begins with the broad view: Chapter 5 starts by considering citizens’ orientations towards such general economic matters as the free market, competition, and support for the principle of meritocracy, and then explores conceptions of economic fairness and justice. The preliminary findings are that some changes in economic values have taken place, and these conform to a general pattern: public support for the...

    • 6: A Changing Work Culture?
      (pp. 157-206)

      Attitudes to competition, meritocracy, economic fairness, free trade, and the like all concern general, and in some senses quite abstract, economic orientations. Far less abstract is the work world that most people confront from day to day. Chapter 2 introduced some evidence on people’s attitudes to work indicating that people generally give it high priority. When asked about “the most important things in life,” respondents ranked work second, albeit a distant second, behind the family. Chapter 5 also touched on work-related values, and indicated that there is some cross-national variation in what rewards people think “hard work” will bring. But...


    • 7: Moral Outlooks
      (pp. 207-242)

      Demonstrating that political and economic value changes are connected opens up the possibility that comparable value shifts have taken place in other domains. Part 4 expands the range of the investigation yet again; it explores social values. Chapter 7 focusses on what might broadly be called “moral outlooks”; it begins by considering religious orientations. Traditionally, religious orientations have provided guidelines about good and evil, right and wrong, and to the extent that these guidelines are shared and deeply held, they serve as a moral cement for communities (Durkheim, 1961). The emergence of advanced industrialism is associated with the progressive secularization...

    • 8: Family Values: Stability and Change
      (pp. 243-284)

      Since the 1960s, about the same time that researchers were beginning to identify broad value shifts among people in advanced industrial states, demographers noticed profound changes in the prevailing patterns of West European population replacement. The general contours of these demographic shifts, which some label the “second demographic transition,” are now well documented. Birth rates began to fall below population replacement levels. Average family size declined while the number of single-parent families, as well as extra-marital births, increased. Climbing divorce rates led some to speculate that one-third of all contemporary West European marriages would end in divorce (Akker, Halman, &...


    • 9: Patterns of Change
      (pp. 285-318)

      The WVS are a massive and extraordinarily rich body of evidence. Huge volumes of detailed information are an enormously valuable resource, but they present awkward problems of another sort—how to make sense of it all. Do you start with a theory, some sort of conceptual roadmap that guides all of the analysis that follows? Or do you begin with “thick description,” immersing yourself in all of the evidence in the hope that some light will go on, that there will be a flash of insight that brings order to the mass of detail? There are pitfalls either way. The...

  9. Appendix: World Values Survey
    (pp. 319-352)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 353-366)
  11. Index
    (pp. 367-369)