Sources of Canadian political values: A comparison of teacher and student cohorts, socialization agents and province differences

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Margaret Hermann


Values, Cohorts, Socialization agents, Province differences, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Canadian studies

Subject Categories

Other International and Area Studies | Political Science


This research investigates relationships among cohorts, political socialization and political culture in political value salience. This study uses data from the Citizens' Forum on Canada's Future to examine whether cohorts (1) experience a uniform socialization; (2) reveal similar political values; and (3) pass these values smoothly to the next cohort. The project develops a model of political renewal that accounts for qualitative differences among variables inherent in political value transfer.

The investigator coded data and developed indicators representing cohorts, political socialization agents, political cultures and salient political issues. These data were used to compare two cohorts (teachers and students) across four provinces of Canada (New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba), together and separately. Multiway contingency tables analyses reveal a non-uniform political socialization among cohort members. The two cohorts' dominant values also appear to vary somewhat. Finally, provinces provide some explanation of political culture as promoting particular values. Findings reveal plural socialization paths, but no dominant one. We can reject uniform political socialization as necessary to intergenerational value transfer. Cohorts reveal the strongest effect in the salience of political values, followed by province.

Results indicate that political change is neither purely a function of political culture nor does it rely solely on cohorts. Instead, it appears incrementally a function of each. Since no single model of political socialization appears to be ultimately in play, the study lends support also to Richard Merelman's 1986 claim that a "lateral" socialization is in effect: individuals choose among competing socialization agents. The "decision rules" by which individuals make these choices remain to be seen. This research implies that civic education at a national or federal level must account for social variation if it hopes to enjoy uniform success. Political renewal is qualitative change over time, rather than a degree of quantitative change.


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