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Sociology Essay

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Allan Puran—6512437
SOCI282
March 25, 2014
Chapter 7: The Question of Identity

− Canada is not the only society fraught with internal conflict and pressures towards change. Canadians lose patience with the constant negotiations, debate and uncertainties that pervade national life. − Canadian identity is its identity crisis.

o While most Canadians feel no sense of imminent to their society and leave most of this debate to politicians, most are indeed aware that Canada is in the midst of significant transitions, the end result that is still unclear. − People who think of Canadian society in terms of what it was 50 or even 20 years ago may truly be disconcerted by the changes they see around them. − Developments such as free trade, Quebec separatism and Aboriginal self-determination are constantly expanding out minds to consider new structural forms for Canadian society.

Issues in Assessing the Canadian Identity: Analyzing a Societal Identity − It is the commonalities of shared territory and polity that make this country’s residents Canadian. o Borders are real, the demarcate territory in which people transform simple space into places where they live and share relationships with others inhabiting that space. o Societal identity emerges as people engage in this type of place making. − A societal identity is the sum of the sentiments, cultural attributes and structural arrangements people share. It gives them a feeling of belonging together. Individuals and groups create and contribute to that identity, also internalize the national identity into their self-definition. − Societies are not fixed entities but are constantly changing and in the process owing to the existence of competing visions represented by conflicting groups o We must recognize that there are constant pressures, often difficult and painful towards the development of new structures and formulations. − The definition of Quebec as a distinct society is another new idea, which revels the pressure for changing but has provoked resistance and conflict. o Bilingualism because policy in spite of resistance.

− A third aspect involved in analyzing a societal identity is distinguishing a society and its interests from others. Members of Canadian society became most aware of their national identity though travel outside of the country and interactions with foreigners. o Canadians wave the flag when they are on vacation in Europe and don’t want to be mistaken for Americans. − A national identity can crystallize as a result of external relationships; a consequence of external dialogue, a society may become more away of its internal relationships and of the concerns its people share. − A fourth aspect to a national identity, a distinctive identity emerges from thing that they are. o For example, no society has quite the same relationship between Anglophones and francophone as Canada that helps give Canadian society its identity. − A descriptive focus is more likely to emphasize identity problems; whereas a perceptive focus shifts the emphasis form propping p the current fragmented identity to consolidating a new social identity.

Contradictions in the Analysis of Canadian Society
− Five key contradictions at the heart of debates about the nature and character of Canadian society. o Homogeneity vs. Heterogeneity
o Insularity vs. Openness
o Legitimacy vs. Illegitimacy
o Centralization vs. Decentralization
o Equality vs. Inequality

1. Homogeneity vs. Heterogeneity
− Should out goal be the developments of a society where everyone has similar traits and similar loyalties, or can we tolerate diversity? Should Canadian be defined in a uniform way or should differences be tolerated, encourages and even fiscally supported

2. Insularity vs. Openness
− In order to develop a national consciousness, to what extent should our national borders be sealed from foreign influence? − Should the government attempt to encourage national development by using its powers to minimize foreign influence?

3. Legitimacy vs. Illegitimacy
− Legitimacy has to do with being recognized as lawful and proper. Members of Canadian society accept the rule of their democratically elected governments as legitimate and worthy of support. − Challenges to national authority and objective have repeatedly been made by those who have alternate conceptions of what the society should be like o Quebec rejected the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Bill 101 it was challenging the legitimacy of the Canadian state to interfere with this aspect of Quebec life. − Other challenges to legitimacy of the central state have arisen over Native rights, resource ownership and even metrication − The central state’s actions have recurrently been accused of illegitimacy on the grounds that they represent specialized interests.

4. Centralization vs. Decentralization
− In order to build a strong Canadian society, a strong central government is needed to establish policies promoting societal uniformity and homogeneity; only though such strong social control, they claim that fragmentation of the society be prevented. o Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Agreement were seen as unacceptable because they strengthen the provinces by decentralizing too much authority.

5. Equality vs. Inequality
− Inequalities are a feature of all societies, how much inequality should be tolerated? − These tensions remain major issues in Canadian society; they are never resolved but evoke a variety of sometimes-contradictory responses. − It can be argues that the Canadian identity is the product of struggles to cope with the tensions and conflicts that emerge within society. The Canadian identity is not a once and for all, carved in stone complex of traits, but an evolving entity. − While in one sense societal conflict may be problematic, it may also be viewed as a struggle in which conflicting parties participate together to find unique compromises, which may reshape Canadian society. − Diversity was to be encouraged rather that submerged, but with the goal of harmonious coexistence. − The most important nation-defining tensions have to do with the French-English clash over different conceptions of society, the contradictions between the federal center and the regions, and the differentiation of Canadian society from American society.

Conceptualizing the Contradictions: Two Perspectives
− There are two basic approaches to assessing Canadian identity: o Unitary approach
o Segmentalist Approach
− The unitary approach contends that society is made up of individuals who find their collective identity belong to the national society. In stressing the individualistic basis of society, this approach accentuates the role of the Canadian state in promoting the necessary feeling of belonging. − The segmentalist approach focuses on groups or communities, founded upon similarities. The segmentalist considers group commitments, the building blocks of Canadian society. o Anglophones prefer the Pan-Canada approach (unitary) rather than societal unity; francophone, Aboriginal people and some residents of hinterland regions prefer the segmentalist approach. − Both of these approaches are valid models of society.

Factors in Identity Formation
− Although national identity is not immutable and unchanging not even evolving towards a fixed form, it is important to identity the central features of the evolving Canadian Identity. There are six features: o Responding to the Colonialist Legacy

o Proximity to the United States
o Internal Cleavages
o National Debate in Social Issues
o The Evolution of Symbols is Societal Unity
o Globalizat...

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