Degrees of Freedom: Canada and the United States in a Changing World

In This Review

Degrees of Freedom: Canada and the United States in a Changing World

Edited by Keith Banting et al.
McGill-Queens University Press, 1997
493 pp. $60.00
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This valuable study, with contributions from ten Canadian scholars, examines Canadian and American responses to economic globalization and social fragmentation, two powerful forces that have placed contradictory demands on the modern state. Globalization has forced upon both countries, as on all states, an economic agenda that requires them to adjust their policies in accordance with the imperative to remain competitive in the world economy. Social fragmentation, often exacerbated by the dislocations brought on by globalization, has, by contrast, increased the demands on the state's resources, bidding the state to become more responsive to popular pressures at the same time that globalization requires it to be less so. How much autonomy each state enjoys in the face of these pressures, and how far their responses have converged or diverged, are the central problems examined here. The conclusion is relatively hopeful. Contrary to the fears expressed by a wide number of observers -- that globalization will drive all countries to a single, homogenized model of social and economic life, making democracy less meaningful even in its moment of triumph -- the editors insist that international constraints operate most powerfully over a fairly narrow range of issues, thus allowing considerable room for domestic choice.