Why do the United States and Canada have such divergent political cultures when they share one of the closest economic and cultural relationships in the world? Canadians and Americans consistently disagree over issues such as the separation of church and state, the responsibility of government for the welfare of everyone, the relationship between federal and subnational government, and the right to marry a same-sex partner or to own an assault rifle.
In this wide-ranging work, Jason Kaufman examines the North American political landscape to draw out the essential historical factors that underlie the countries’ differences. He discusses the earliest European colonies in North America and the Canadian reluctance to join the American Revolution. He compares land grants and colonial governance; territorial expansion and relations with native peoples; immigration and voting rights. But the key lies in the evolution and enforcement of jurisdictional law, which illuminates the way social relations and state power developed in the two countries.
Written in an accessible and engaging style, this book will appeal to readers of sociology, politics, law, and history as well as to anyone interested in the relationship between the United States and Canada.
An imaginative, insightful, and persuasive study. In a powerful argument not stressed by previous writers, Kaufman shows that political culture does not precede law and institutions, rather it follows from them. The United States unfolds as a contentious, litigation-oriented, property-centered society, with a deep distrust of government, while Canadian society is marked by fewer disputes over land rights, less resort to the courts, and more focus on negotiation, bargaining, brokerage, and compromise. This book is both a wonderfully engaging read and an important work of scholarship.
Kaufman offers comparative histories of the two countries' different trajectories through lively and richly detailed narratives that will fascinate anyone interested in U.S. or Canadian history, while presenting a new argument that contributes significantly to longstanding debates. His innovative analysis argues that the national differences derive in significant ways from divergent developments of legal orders. Kaufman has much to say about civic and political culture, narratives of nationhood, the new historical institutionalism, and the historical sociology of law.
Working in the grand tradition of Seymour Martin Lipset and Louis Hartz, Kaufman offers an ambitious comparison of the political development of Canada and the United States. His original contribution is to argue that different ways of legislating the right to incorporate explains a number of cross-national differences. Provocative and full of interesting ideas, this book will renew debates on the causes and extent of the divergences and convergences between the two nations--on both sides of the 49th parallel.
How can the two main offshoots of British North America, Canada and the United States, be so different despite their similarities? Kaufman's rigorous, perceptive, highly illuminating study locates the reasons for divergence in very specific differences in political and legal institutions—structures of federalism, policies and patterns of Western settlement, and regulation of associations. This book is a great example of comparative legal history written with clarity, subtlety, and a deep understanding of both societies.
There are interesting ideas here that can help to explain why Canadian attitudes to, say, guns or abortion are so very different from those in the U.S.
- 382 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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