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Is There a Progressive's Dilemma in Canada? Immigration, Multiculturalism and the Welfare State: Presidential Address to the Canadian Political Science Association, Montreal, June 2, 2010

  • Keith G. Banting (a1)

Abstract. There is a widespread fear in many western nations that ethnic diversity is eroding support for the welfare state. This article examines such fears in the Canadian context. In-depth analysis of public attitudes finds remarkably little tension between ethnic diversity and public support for social programs in Canada. At first glance, then, the country seems to demonstrate the political viability of a multicultural welfare state. But this pattern reflects distinctive features of the institutional context within which public attitudes evolve. The Canadian policy regime has forestalled tension between diversity and redistribution by diverting adjustment pressures from the welfare state, absorbing some of them in other parts of the policy regime, and nurturing a more inclusive form of identity. These institutional buffers are thinning, however, potentially increasing the danger of greater tension between diversity and redistribution in the years to come.

Résumé. On craint généralement dans de nombreux pays occidentaux que l'immigration et la diversité ethnique de plus en plus grande soient en train d'éroder l'appui accordé à l'État-providence. Cet article porte sur de telles inquiétudes au sein du Canada. Une analyse approfondie des attitudes du public dévoile qu'il existe remarquablement peu de tension entre la diversité ethnique et l'appui du public à l'endroit des programmes sociaux du Canada. À première vue, le pays semble donc démontrer la viabilité politique d'un État-providence multiculturel. Mais cette tendance reflète les traits distinctifs du contexte institutionnel au sein duquel évoluent les attitudes du public. Le régime de politiques canadiennes fait échec à la tension entre la diversité et la redistribution en soustrayant de l'État-providence diverses pressions d'ajustement et en favorisant une forme d'identité plus inclusive. Certains de ces mécanismes de tampon institutionnels disparaissent progressivement, ce qui peut accroître le danger d'une tension accrue entre la diversité et la redistribution dans les années à venir.

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Alberto Alesina and Edward Glaeser . 2004. Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe: A World of Difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Keith Banting , Richard Johnston , Will Kymlicka and Stuart Soroka . 2006. “Do Multiculturalism Policies Erode the Welfare State? An Empirical Analysis.” In Multiculturalism and the Welfare State: Recognition and Redistribution in Contemporary Democracies, ed. Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Clem Brooks and Jeff Manza . 2007. Why Welfare States Persist: The Importance of Public Opinion in Democracies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Martin Gilens . 1999. Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Staffan Kumlin and Bo Rothstein . “Questioning the New Liberal Dilemma: Immigrants, Social Networks and Institutional Fairness.” Comparative Politics (forthcoming).

Paul Pierson . 1994. Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher and the Politics of Retrenchment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bo Rothstein . 1998. Just Institutions Matter: The Moral and Political Logic of the Universal Welfare State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
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