Comportement politique/sociologie



F21 - Methodological Issues in the Study of Political Behaviour III

Date: Jun 14 | Heure: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Salle:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Allison Harell (UQAM)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Allison Harell (UQAM)

Understanding Social and Political Attitudes in Rural Canada via Ethnography: Interim Reflections on Method and Purpose: Laticia Chapman (University of Alberta), Dionne Pohler (University of Saskatchewan), Clark Banack (University of Alberta, Augustana Campus)
Abstract: Our SSHRC-funded project, Understanding Social and Political Attitudes in Rural Canada, employs ethnographic methods, including periods of intense, short-term immersion in selected communities, interviews, and participant-observation at local events, to explore the roots of political, social, and economic beliefs and attitudes across rural Canada. Our project responds to the significant body of recent political science research investigating rural attitudes. Much of this scholarship relies on positivist methods including surveys and opinion polling. Because positivist methods cannot capture reasoning and meaning-making, they exclude rural people’s interpretations of their experiences. Positivist methods also leave out the meaning-making space of the community. Our research highlights the social element of meaning-making, and includes the community as a space where people “make sense” of – that is, develop opinions and attitudes about – events in and beyond their communities. Ethnographic research also reveals important ambiguities in the relationship between researcher and research subjects in rural settings. For example, because researcher presence is readily observable to all community members, the researcher is incorporated into the community’s sense-making and meaning-making processes. This paper focuses on the methodological approach informing and developing from our community visits, including questions the research team worked through regarding the “two-way” nature of interpersonal communication and the balance between empathy and critical distance in research interactions. Extensive self- and joint reflections on our field work experiences clarified our ethnographic practice, and sharpened the goals of this unique approach to research aimed at understanding how things come to matter to rural people in Canada.


Partisan Bias of Non-Voters in Canada and the Consequences for Representative Democracy: Matthew Polacko (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Voter turnout has declined substantially over the past generation in Canada. The closeness of the last two federal elections, where the popular vote margin of victory was less than 1.25 percentage points, raises the question of whether such a large pool of potential voters could have changed the outcome of recent elections under a compulsory voting regime. The comparative and Canadian evidence is mixed as to whether turnout carries a partisan bias and there is little work focusing on the consequences of low turnout in Canada. I explore the relationship between partisan bias of non-voters using the Canadian Election Study (CES). The large online sample size of the 2019 (n= 37,822) and 2021 (n= 20,968) CES surveys, provides for the first time a large enough sample of non-voters to undertake detailed analysis beyond simulations of party voting. Relying on vote intention from the campaign portion of the CES, I find that non-voters have a significantly predicted higher likelihood of voting for leftist parties (NDP and Greens). There are also large differences in the demographic composition of non-voters, as lower earners, women, and the young are significantly over-represented among non-voters, which are three constituencies that significantly vote for the NDP. The findings reveal that turnout incurs a partisan bias in Canada, which carries important implications for partisanship. Inequalities in turnout also raise questions about the representativeness of Canada’s electoral system, as election outcomes and subsequent policy outcomes are likely to look much different under an electoral system with universal turnout.


How the sociology of deception can contribute to explaining the enduring careers and upward mobility of corrupt senior law enforcement officers: The case of Genaro García Luna: Valentin Pereda (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: Scholarly dialogues concerning high-tier police corruption within the Global South have predominantly focused on unravelling the drivers of corruption and its consequent effect on the robustness and functionality of civic and corporate institutions. Complementing this purview, certain analyses have adopted a more descriptive stance, aiming to gauge corruption or its perceived extent across varying nation-states. Specifically, inquiries into police corruption have centered around metrics for, and strategies toward, its deterrence and diminution. Yet, the persistent enigma of how senior officers embroiled in corruption navigate and ascend the echelons of law enforcement, despite ample and accessible evidence of their illicit involvements, has seldom been addressed. Through the interpretive prism of the sociology of deception, this study posits that traditional factors associated with corruption fall short of clarifying the enduring careers and upward mobility of such officials. We delve into the illustrative case of Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico's notorious ex-police chief and his entanglements with international drug cartels, to anchor our analysis. By thematically dissecting witness testimonies from García Luna’s trial and subsequent conviction in a U.S. federal court, we reveal that conventional institutional explanations alone do not suffice. Our findings illuminate the necessity for a broader analytical framework to grasp the full spectrum of elements that safeguard the professional trajectories of figures like García Luna. This narrative not only refines the understanding of corruption dynamics but also pinpoints the sophisticated matrix of factors that enable the perpetuation of corruption at the highest levels of policing.