Degrees of Freedom: Canada and the United States in a Changing World


493 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1447-3
DDC 320'.6'0971




Edited by Keith Banting, George Hoberg, and Richard Simeon
Reviewed by David A. Lenarcic

David A. Lenarcic is an assistant professor of history at Wilfrid
Laurier University.


Degrees of Freedom considers the extent to which Canada and the United
States are becoming either more alike or more different in the context
of their respective governments’ responses to fundamental changes to
the international economic system and to the domestic social fabric. It
also asks whether those changes—which have integrated the Canadian and
U.S. economies while diversifying their societies—are decreasing the
two countries’ range of policy choices.

The editors conclude that while there are forces both pulling Canada
and the United States closer together, and pushing them further apart,
the two nations “are not being driven inexorably towards a single
homogenized model of social and economic life.” Despite the massive
transformations going on around them, the Canadian and U.S. governments
each still enjoy considerable freedom of maneuver in setting national
agendas; the modern state retains many “degrees of freedom.”

Some readers might find several of the book’s observations a bit
self-evident. Others will deem its conclusions regarding the patterns of
convergence and divergence too even-handed and not sufficiently
categorical; there is too much pulling of punches when it comes to the
main argument.

University professors and graduate students should find its workmanlike
dissection of a complex subject intriguing. General readers, on the
other hand, will probably consider the book too long and too theoretical
by half. Nevertheless, this study of comparative politics and policy is
based on a thorough understanding of the relevant scholarly literature,
and is for the most part excellent.


“Degrees of Freedom: Canada and the United States in a Changing World,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 15, 2024,