Citizens, Political Communication, and Interest Groups: Environmental Organizations in Canada and the United States

By John C. Pierce; Mary Ann E. Steger et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
Trust in Sources of Policy-Relevant Information

As noted in the previous chapters, Canada and the United States are both postindustrial democracies, they share a common adoption of federal governmental forms, and the two nations share a common legal- political legacy. Even so, the two neighboring nations are widely assumed to have distinct political cultures and maintain quite dissimilar governmental practices and institutional structures. It is one thesis of this book that the way in which interest groups operate as sources of political influence and producers and distributors of policy-relevant information may differ in Canada and the United States in ways reflecting these cultural and structural differences.

As Chapter 2 describes, a number of studies comparing the political cultures of Canada and the United States note significant differences in political beliefs and values (see Gibbins and Nevitte 1985; Horowitz 1966; Lipset 1985). By way of review, Canadian political culture is thought to be more organic and collectivist in nature than is American political culture ( Lipset 1963; Lipset 1985). American political culture reflects a Lockean individualistic conception of society ( Commager 1950, 1977; Hartz 1955; Kluegel and Smith 1986), and public policy in the United States is shaped by pervasive, widely held political values that stress the free enterprise system, individualism, and respect for property rights ( Dolbeare and Medcalf 1988; McCloskey and Zaller 1984). Americans, consequently, can be shown to be more insistent on claiming their self-perceived rights--either from government or from other citizens in the form of civil litigation ( Hargrove 1967; Kritzer et al. 1990).

The Canadian policy-making system has been characterized as being

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Citizens, Political Communication, and Interest Groups: Environmental Organizations in Canada and the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figure and Tables ix
  • Series Foreword xiii
  • Notes xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Chapter One - Information, Individuals, and Interest Groups 1
  • Conclusion 31
  • Chapter Two - the Political Culture Context 33
  • Notes 64
  • Chapter Three - Trust in Sources of Policy-Relevant Information 69
  • Notes 94
  • Chapter Four - the Information Incentive 95
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter Five - Organizational Resources and Informational Capacity 123
  • Notes 147
  • Chapter Six - Environmental Groups as Communicators 151
  • Note 170
  • Chapter Seven - Interest Groups, Individuals, and the Technical Information Quandary 171
  • Conclusion 186
  • Appendix Survey Questionnaires 191
  • References 211
  • Index 223
  • ABOUT THE AUTHORS 227
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