A Civil Society?

A Civil Society?: Collective Actors in Canadian Political Life

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    A Civil Society?
    Book Description:

    "A must read for any serious Canadianist." - Jane Jenson, Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Governance, Université de Montréal

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0201-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. ONE Neoliberalism and Group Politics
    (pp. 9-18)

    This book explores the role of social movements and interest groups in Canadian federal politics. Such groups provide a vehicle for public participation in collective decision-making in a democratic society. Collective action is an alternative to voting and participating in the electoral system and enables people to pursue and express a broad range of political interests and identities. Farmers, workers, peace activists, feminists, environmentalists, and the business community have all organized to influence public policy and public opinion. Whether it is large corporations buying advertising space on Canadian television to influence the debate over global warming or the anti-globalization protestors...

  5. TWO Understanding Group and Movement Politics
    (pp. 19-46)

    This chapter provides an overview of the main theoretical approaches to explaining and understanding the role of interest groups and social movements in Canada and in comparative perspective. In general, political scientists have had trouble in situating the politics of groups and movements in the broader context of political, social, and economic change. There is no agreement among political scientists specifically or social scientists in general about the best ways to study group and social movement politics. Rather, there are a plethora of theories that draw our attention to different facets of collective action. Each of these theories have clear...

  6. THREE Historical Trajectories of Influence in Canadian Politics
    (pp. 47-80)

    Most of the theoretical approaches examined in Chapter 1 are based on the assumption that time is as important as space in understanding the meaning of contemporary political patterns. In the political economy approach, Canada’s place in the international political economy and its pattern of staples and natural resource exploration are viewed as shaping state-society relations. In the institutionalist approach, the policy legacies and institutional patterns of one period are assumed to play a key role in influencing political debates, policy choices, and interest group politics in subsequent historical periods. In social movement theory, the growth of resources available to...

  7. FOUR Arenas of Influence: Parliament, Parties, and Elections
    (pp. 81-108)

    The transition from the Keynesian to the neoliberal era has reinforced the obstacles created by the Canadian Westminster system of governance to the influence of groups and social movements on legislatures and the party system. These obstacles are strengthened by the fusion of legislative and executive authority at the heart of Canadian political institutions and the highly disciplined nature of political parties. As we will see below, the Canadian party system is dominated by the “brokerage” model with respect to party organization and electoral strategies, and the Canadian voter is fickle and volatile (Clarkeet al., 1986). The volatility of...

  8. FIVE Arenas of Influence: Bureaucracy and Policy Communities
    (pp. 109-144)

    As we saw in the last chapter, the fusion of executive and legislative authority in Canada’s Westminster-style system means that Parliament and political parties are not necessarily the most effective venue for civil society actors to influence the state. Exploiting election campaigns and seeking influence through political parties may be useful for certain ends, such as drawing public attention to an issue, and these avenues of influence may be successful when an issue is embroiled in a caucus revolt or a free vote in Parliament. However, on a day-to-day basis, the dominance of the governing party in Parliament and the...

  9. SIX Arenas of Influence: Courts
    (pp. 145-178)

    Over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, the courts have become an increasingly important venue in Canadian politics for interest group and social movement activity. In the years since the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter), we have seen a wholesale change in the extent to which groups use the courts. As a model of collective action, the recourse to litigation suggests an organizational and mobilizing structure that favours the legal expert, the formally organized and well-resourced group, and the individual litigant in whose name the case is taken forward. As we will see below,...

  10. SEVEN Conclusions
    (pp. 179-194)

    This book has argued that the arenas for group and social movement politics are in the process of fundamental restructuring in the neoliberal era. This process of restructuring has drawn on the legacies of collective action from Canada’s past and is shaped by the political-institutional complex at the heart of the Canadian federal state. The analysis has focused on the traditional political-institutional arena of Canadian politics and explored how changes in Canadian political institutions shape the ways in which group and social movement identities and interests will be treated in the political process. Political-institutional forces such as federalism and intergovernmental...

  11. References
    (pp. 195-208)
  12. Index
    (pp. 209-224)