Review: Committing Sociology

Committing Sociology: Research-inspired Reflections on Canadian Values and Society by Michael Adams


This book just goes to show you can find great reads in the most unexpected places. I actually received this book in a gift bag when I attended the 2016 Environics Analytics Conference back in November as part of my co-op term. The book is a collection of essays and articles written primarily by Michael Adams that summarizes the political and societal research the Environics Institute for Survey Research has done. It touches on a lot of issues that I think are very important considering the political climate that has surrounded the world and Canada over the last year, and would make be a great read for anyone who is interested in government, politics, or trends in Canadian society.

Canada has typically been viewed, from within and out, as a socially progressive country. Topics like universal health care, same sex-marriage, abortion, restrictive gun rights etc. are all progressive issues that the Canadian government has tackled since the 1960’s in a generally centre-left trajectory. However, considering recent trends and events it has made people question: is the world, and more specifically Canada, shifting slightly to the right?

In 2003, the Conservative Party of Canada was created after a merger of the Progressive Conservatives, a centre-right party, and the Canadian Alliance, a farther right leaning party. Stephen Harper, the former Canadian Alliance leader, also became the leader for the new Conservative Party of Canada and would later become Prime Minister in 2006. This new administration would go on to lead Canada for nine years, until their recent defeat in the 2015 federal election.

Donald Trump’s unexpected rise and popularity south of the border, the long standing Harper administration, the rise of nationalist movements in Europe,  it almost feels like there is an increasing polarization between the different sides of the political spectrum. Hot button topics like immigration, economic policy, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, race relations, the environment are all things that have become huge issues of debate for the political right. But is this an actual societal shift that Canada is experiencing? Is the country shifting politically to the right on these topics? Or is this just what we have come to perceive from the way the media and the internet presents political issues?

Committing Sociology: Research-inspired Reflections on Canadian Values and Society by Michael Adams attempts to address this question by looking at the vast amount of polling and research data that the Environics Institute has collected on the values that Canadians hold. This collection of essays will open your eyes to the trends and changes in Canadian society over the past twenty and fifty years. Answering questins like: what are Canadians thinking and how is that changing?

Although we may perceive that Canadians are leaning one way or another on certain issues, we don’t actually know until survey research like this is done. For those that are interested in Canadian politics, this is the perfect companion guide to help you realize what Canadians are truly thinking.

I would give this book a 7/10 rating. The book puts forward some very interesting research on Canadian sociological trends, but I would have liked for them to include some more analysis on what these trends mean for the future of Canada.

If you are interested in reading this book, it may be hard one to track down. As for as I know, the book had a very limited publishing run and its main distribution was at the conference I attended. You won’t be able to find the book in a bookstore, but Environics is selling the book on Amazon I believe so you can get it there.

Thanks for reading!







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