Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

The Canadianization Movement in Context

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

The Canadianization Movement in Context

Article excerpt

Universities in Canada were a major battleground during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Before then they were understood largely as the reserve of a select few elites, charged with imparting a cosmopolitan scientific worldview on a new generation. In 1968 this vision of the university in Canada was challenged as nationalist forces descended on it, changing it in fundamental yet controversial ways. Canadian nationalists argued that not only were universities places where a unique national culture was produced and reproduced, they also believed it a site of significant socialization for the next generation. At university students learned the history of their nation, its poetry and prose, its politics, economics and social structure; in short, they learned the component parts that made up their national identity. In the late 1960s nationalists believed that Canadian universities were under attack and they fought back.

This move to nationalize Canadian universities eventually became known as the Canadianization movement. While not a 'mass movement" in the way the Canadian women's movement or the Aboriginal movement is a mass movement, Canadianization was composed of a variety of individuals, organizations and later institutions, pushing for change in the production and distribution of Canadian culture. It was a social movement community (cf. Staggenborg, 2002) --or a critical community in Thomas Rochon's (1998) words--concentrated largely on university campuses and emerging from multiple sites right across Canada. It was more concerned with Canadian culture and the university than with the economy, an area where most scholarly attention on Canadian nationalism has been placed (Azzi, 1999).

The purpose of the present analysis is to contribute to a discussion of the factors that either acted to constrain or facilitate the Canadianization movement's ability to frame the issue of Canadianization. More specifically, I illustrate the power of organization to shape the way members of the movement and leaders framed their message. The analysis that follows uses two key elements of the larger movement community of Canadianization for the purpose of comparison. At one extreme were Carleton University professors of English, Robin Mathews and James Steele. Between 1968 and 1971 Mathews and Steele acted individually and in concert as movement entrepreneurs for Canadianization, politicizing the issue at Carleton in 1968 and diffusing it thereafter (Mathews and Steele, 1969). At the other end were organizations such as the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association (CSAA), which took up the issue during the early 1970s. The CSAA was a hierarchically structured voluntary association that actively pursued a program of Canadianization during the mid- 1970s. A comparative analysis of these two organizational forms--the individual social movement entrepreneur loosely embedded in a network on the one hand and the voluntary organization on the other--will highlight the different effects internal organizational factors have on the framing efforts of a social movement community.

Organizational Forms in the Canadianization Movement Community

In terms of organization, the Canadianization movement was composed of a variety of organizational forms. Two are crucial for the present analysis. The leadership role played by university professors Robin Mathews and James Steele, especially in the early days of the movement, was an essential contribution to Canadianization. Historian Jack Granatstein (1996:216) claims that Mathews and Steele were the most successful Canadian nationalists since the Laurier era. And while from an outsider's perspective it would appear that they acted alone, Mathews and Steele were embedded in a larger network of faculty, university administrators, students and concerned citizens. It was the loose-knit nature of this network that shaped the way that Mathews especially, framed Canadianization. …

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