Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada


325 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7204-6
DDC 324.271'0983




Reviewed by Eric P. Mintz

Eric P. Mintz is an associate professor of political science at the
Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Trevor Harrison, a sociologist at the University of Alberta, examines
the rise of the Reform Party within the context of developing a general
theory of right-wing populist parties. Making use of Gramsci’s concept
of “organic crisis,” Harrison suggests that the roots of Reform lie
in significant changes in the ideological, economic, and political
spheres. The negative consequences of these changes have cast vulnerable
groups adrift from the hegemony of the dominant political parties and
made them susceptible to right-wing populist appeals to restore
traditional order.

Harrison provides a useful narrative of the development of the Reform
Party that devotes considerable attention to specific political
circumstances and to the organizational capabilities of the party. His
theoretical perspective avoids the simplistic class analysis of orthodox
Marxism by incorporating elements of relative deprivation and resource
mobilization theory along with cultural and ideological factors.

Social scientists have generally paid more attention to new movements
and parties on the left than to more politically successful forces on
the right. This well-written analysis of the Reform Party is thus a
welcome contribution to our understanding of the changing nature of
contemporary politics. However, some discussion of the development of
right-wing populist parties in other countries would have been useful. A
definition of the central concept of “organic crisis” and a clearer
explanation of its application would have improved the theoretical
discussion. Finally, the survey research findings presented are
inadequate to provide an empirical basis for Harrison’s analysis of
Reform Party support.


Harrison, Trevor., “Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/30002.