Political Sociology: Canadian Perspectives


348 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-19-541109-9
DDC 306.1'0971




Edited by Douglas Baer
Reviewed by Jeffrey J. Cormier

Jeffrey J. Cormier is an assistant professor of sociology at the
University of Western Ontario in London.


It is rare to find a good Canadian book on political sociology, and
editor Doug Baer has managed to provide one. All the major aspects of
political sociology are covered in five main sections—Political
Beliefs and Political Culture, The State, Social Movements, Political
Movements, and Politics and Social Class—and each of these sections
contain excellent chapters on substantive areas of Canadian political
life replete with examples drawn from Canadian politics, past and

Much of Canadian political sociology is an attempt to distinguish
itself from mainstream American scholarship. Nowhere is this clearer
than in the chapter on political culture. American functionalism argues
that overarching political norms and values add necessary cohesion to
political life. Lorne Tepperman, Edward Grabb and James Curtis, and Baer
himself, in their respective chapters, are critical of this notion,
pointing out that consensus around key political values is crucial for
the smooth operation of society. They also point out that conflict can
arise. Nowhere is this more evident than in the relations between the
state and civil society. The chapters in the section titled “The
State” aptly describe the various pressures, from internal domestic
ones to external global ones, that continually act upon and at times
hamper the Canadian state: these include the new social movements
described by William Carroll as well as more traditional ones discussed
by Curtis and Grabb in their chapters on social movements. Sometimes
protest movements become part of the political system, as was the case
for both Quebec nationalism and prairie populism. These processes are
looked at by Maurice Pinard and Trevor Harrison. The New Democratic
Party arose out of similar circumstanc, and this is studied at some
length in several very good chapters.

Finally, the relation between social class and voting is examined.
Indeed, many have argued that with the rise in new social movements
there has been a cognate decline in the significance of class. Several
chapters explore this theme. Overall, this is a superb book that will be
extremely useful in undergraduate classes on political sociology.


“Political Sociology: Canadian Perspectives,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/10154.