Power and Resistance: Critical Thinking About Canadian Social Issues. 4th ed.


512 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55266-224-3
DDC 305.0971




Edited by Les Samuelson and Wayne Antony
Reviewed by Elaine G. Porter

Elaine G. Porter is an associate professor of sociology at Laurentian


The task facing the authors was daunting: how to maintain the focus on a thorough critical analysis while presenting the parameters of the social issues covering the panoply of areas ranging from family, sexuality, education, immigration, poverty, globalization, and health care to more specialized areas such as Aboriginal economic development, the political engagement of youth, and victimization. Most authors succeeded in providing that focus through an analysis of the neo-liberal state and social policies. Many explained the historical development of the social issue and intellectual controversy surrounding it. Resistance was variously looked at as: emotional responses to women’s films as representing agency (Austin-Smith), incipient signs of grassroots efforts at change such as community economic development (Silver) and intercontinental youth camps (Conway and Morrison), joining transformative social movements (Kinsman) to educational campaigns aimed at changing social consciousness about the consequences of privatization tendencies in education (Polster) and racist immigration legislation (Chan).


While all analyses in the book aim for more inclusive social changes, most do not address the theories laid out in the editors’ introductory chapter; Ghorayshi’s chapter on globalization and Kinsman’s analysis of social problems could have served as additional lead chapters. The critical analysis throughout the book is usually set against the foil of typical undergraduate individualistic thinking, analyzed as hegemonic, or a descriptive analysis of an issue, and sometimes it is contrasted with a functionalist approach. The reader is armed with glossaries, discussion questions, and directions for gathering further information on these issues.


Feminist perspectives signalled by the editors as essential to analysis of the state are threaded throughout most chapters although they are only central to chapters on family, technology, film, intimate violence, sexuality, and privatization of health care. Analysis of social policies outlines the dependence of women on state policies that have largely failed them. “Women-friendly” policies, as McDaniel has dubbed them, seem elusive. As a case in point, the first issue-driven chapter begins with movement of the state towards “degendering” intimate violence (Mann), and the last chapter ends by discussing the re-victimization of women in the penal system, especially among those who are Aboriginal (Samuelson).


“Power and Resistance: Critical Thinking About Canadian Social Issues. 4th ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28565.