State and Society

If you were suddenly struck by a particular social or political concern, would you try to do something about it by joining a political party, a social movement or an interest group?  This question lies at the heart of one of the most enduring debates in political science about the actual sources of political outcomes. Do state actors operate autonomously from society once in power? Is the wielding of power best understood as a game of jockeying between various organs of the state?  Are elections the only way citizens can get involved in the policy process?

In contrast, others view the state a relatively neutral hub that processes a variety of societal inputs. Organized through a more formal electoral frameworks, on one end, to movements and interests within civil society, on the other, these groups attempt to either directly influence state actors or adopt a more comprehensive approach that seeks to transform hearts and minds and either restrict or broaden our conceptions of the public sphere altogether – actually deconstructing what is ‘political’. Within this broad spectrum, other questions emerge: are some of these societal inputs in a better position to sway state actors, and why? What is the role of our economic system in determining societal winners and losers with regards to access to the state? Which organizing tactics are more likely to work and how are resources distributed among such actors?

A degree in Political Science at Carleton will allow you to explore many of these questions through a variety of methodological and thematic perspectives, depending on your interests. We have a large and internationally recognized faculty that covers the full range of sub-disciplines in political science and is committed to a fruitful student experience.  If you want to fully engage in the study of how and why power is wielded, where we are and where we are going, and its limits and possibilities, then we have you covered.

Select Courses Include

PSCI 3102    Politics of Development of China
PSCI 3205    Mexican Politics
PSCI 3207    The Government and Politics of European Integration
PSCI 4006    Legislatures and Representation in Canada
PSCI 5101    Canadian Federalism
PSCI 5201    Politics in Plural Societies
PSCI 5210    Politics of Popular Culture

view undergraduate course descriptions
view graduate course descriptions

Select Recent Publications

William Cross, ed., Auditing Canadian Democracy. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010.

Achim Hurrelmann, ‘The Politicization of European Integration: more than an elite affair?’, Political Studies, Vol.63, no.1 (2015), co-authored with A. Gora and A. Wagner.

Raffaele Iacovino, Federalism, Citizenship and Quebec: debating multinationalism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007 (with Alain-G. Gagnon).

Laura Macdonald, ‘Mexico and Social Provision by the Federal Government and the Federal District: obstacles and openings to a global social protection floor”, Global Social Policy,Vol. 14, no. 3 (2014), with Lucy Luccisano.

Jonathan Malloy, ‘Between America and Europe: religion, politics and evangelicals in Canada’, Politics, Religion and Ideology, Vol. 12, no.3 (2011).

Cristina Rojas, ‘Securing the State and Developing Social Insecurities: the securitisation of citizenship in contemporary Colombia’, Third World Quarterly, Vol.30, no.1 (2009).

William Walters, Governing Europe: Discourse, Governmentality and European Integration. London: Routledge, 2005 (with J.H. Haahr).