Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Theories of B.C. Politics
What explains the distinctive nature of BC politics? Are the theories that were published half a century ago to answer this question still valid? If not, what are the prospects for a truly distinctive political system in British Columbia in the twenty-first century? If any of these questions interest you, you should take a look at my new article in the latest issue of BC Studies Number 172 (Winter 2011/12), pp. 77-104.
The article examines theories of B.C. politics from the perspective of the New Institutionalism. It argues that the contributions of Martin Robin’s class-based theory, Ed Black’s “politics of exploitation” theory and Mark Sproule-Jones’s theory of sponsored conceptual ideology to explaining the distinctiveness of B.C.’s political culture and its ideologically polarized party system can best be understood in terms of their insights into temporal processes, especially path-dependent sequences of development. Although growing social and institutional pluralism are limiting the explanatory value of these theories today, paying close attention to the dynamics of institutional development at work in contemporary BC can help us to identify new reasons for thinking that the province’s unique politics will continue into the future.