Cairns: The Embedded State
- Problem of social science-> does not see society as a whole.
- Some obvious points: the development of a rights-seeking entitlement society; the feminist
challenfe to the gender division of labour; the transformation of Quebec and the development
of a state-centred nationalism; ethnicity explosion-> multiculturalism and in aboriginal demands
for self-government and self-determination; race relations as “visible minorities”.
- This essay focuses on trying to find some common threads in the interdependencies,
contradictions and emergent phenomena of the late twentieth century Canada.
- Primary tasks of the state:
o Creation and maintenance of internal order
o Protection of its own territorial integrity in the international system.
o Related task-> integration of the regions, classes, ethnicities, lifestyles, generations, and
gender and other cleavages that always threaten to pull society apart, erode the sense
of community, and weaken the capacity for effective collective action.
- Canadian federal state->has become uncoordinated when it comes to dealing with power and
policies, while society with which it interacts is increasingly plural, fragmented and multiple in
its allegiance and identities.
- The more we interact with the state the more divided, as a society, we become.
- There are many overlapping linkages created by the state-society interdependencies.
- Relationship between state and society: politicized societies caught in webs of interdependence
with the state; and the state is embedded and tied down by its multiple linkages with society,
which restrain its movements.
- State and society used to be viewed as separate, since the last century however, this separation
no longer exists.-> they are now seen as having a “state-society fusion”.
- The Canadian state is characterized by a centrifugal scattering of public authority.
- Contemporary Canadian society is plural, heterogeneous and characterized by multiple
- Cleavages in Canada are now mixed with gender, age, life-style and ethnicity (ex: Quebecois
nationalism, multicultural groups, visible minorities and aboriginals)
- State and society cannot fragment tendencies in one another.
- The cleavages of modern society intertwine with the state’s internal divisions.
- Socio-economic actors-> pursue their objectives by political means-> devote resources to
manipulating the state. (shows interdependence of state and society).
- “ the state is not a natural executor mechanically implementing societal choices and choosing
among competing demands by some agreed calculus. It has some autonomy, and its leaders
have goals for their people, but goals and autonomy operate primarily at the margin,
skirmishing around the edges of the existing network of established policies linking state and
society”. - Actors in both the state and society are involve in an endless game of mutual influence.
- Federalism divides legislative authority and makes citizens and group members of different
communities for different purposes is inherent in federalism and is the reason for its choice as a
system of government.
- The concept of national community has been threatened by the growing role of provincial
- The most dramatic recent example of government efforts to shape conceptions of community is
found in the constitutional struggles of the past two decades.
- The Charter: seen here as a nation-building, nation-preserving, as well as a rights-protecting
o many interval decisions produced divisions and cleavages in the Charter.
- Basic goal of government was to enhance their control over their own societies and economies,
and their own constitutional position relative to that of the other governments.
- State policy is a result of our conceptions of community and identity-> sometimes creating by-
products of the massive role of the state in our day to day lives.
- The constitutional system is more than federalism; it is also parliamentary responsible
government. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has recently been added as a third
- Theory of responsible government
o Suggests the existence of an energizing central political executive based on the relatively
predictable support of a parliamentary majority and thus able to translate its policy
initiatives into legislation.
- Cabinet: more like a holding company of competing departments than like a football team
directed by a quarterback who calls the plays and expects clockwork precision of performance
from his teammates.
- There is no divorce from the past. Government is a continuing organization, deeply embedded
as a result of ongoing past policies in the society and economy of the country.
- Most of the linkages with the state are habitual.
- An important role of the state is to confer status, recognize identities and provide meaning for
- The state is embedded in society linked in thousands of ways to interests in society that no
longer can meaningfully be described as private.
Blais Article: Electoral Systems
- Typologies of electoral systems-> can be based on the electoral formula which determines how
votes are to be counted in order to allocate seats, on district magnitude.
o District magnitude: the number of seats per district