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134 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 within sociology as the debate between agency B the focus on individual decision making, with the associated assumption of a relatively free, rational subject B and structure B the focus on the social, economic, and in general the material forces that shape, guide, or determine human behaviour.= Clearly, this necessary alignment of idealism with agency and materialism with determinism does not stand up to scrutiny. As Mann=s own discussion of Hegel shows, history is for Hegel the teleological, predetermined unfolding of human ideas. Similarly, Mann=s quick dismissal of structuralists like Saussure, Barthes, Levi-Strauss, and even Durkheim means that their cultural-linguistic emphasis on the ideal as structure is largely overlooked. Indeed, while the Durkheimian school of sociology is described by the author as >largely discredited,= this reader cannot help but be reminded of Durkheim=s dynamic notion of >collective representations= when considering Mann=s >structural ideals.= Durkheim defines collective representations as >the way the group thinks of itself (agency) in relation to the objects which effect it (structure).= Equally, materialism cannot straightforwardly equate with determinism if Marx=s central notions of praxis and class consciousness are taken seriously. In the second half of the book, Mann considers the intellectual shift from modern to postmodern thought as a movement from the study of deep meaning to superficial meaning. He goes on to discuss consumer culture as indicative of the type of >structural ideals= animating postmodern life, a culture in which the >liquid body= is the site of identity construction. In this half of the book, Mann also discusses the >Canadian School of Cultural Critique= (Innis, McLuhan, Grant, etc) and their common interest in nature/culture/technology as structural ideals. In the end, Mann does not convince this reader that his theory of >structural ideals= is anything new under the sociological or philosophical sun. His work does not provide a bridge between material and idealism, but it does offer a valuable model of a middle-range theory of historical action. More generally, Mann provides an interesting and stimulating tour through various literatures, thinkers, and cultural issues, and raises the important question of the purpose and method of cultural studies. (PATRICIA CORMACK) Margaret R. Conrad and James K. Hiller. Atlantic Canada: A Region in the Making Oxford University Press 2001. viii, 236. $25.95 This work is the product of two well-regarded specialists in the history of Atlantic Canada. Each has published a great deal, Margaret Conrad on the Maritimes, especially Nova Scotia, and James Hiller on Newfoundland and Labrador. The book synthesizes the history of the region from the beginnings, such humanities 135 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 as we can know them, until 1989. Few authors have previously made the attempt at synthesis, probably because of the artificiality of the concept >Atlantic Canada.= The region consists of the three Maritime provinces, which are in close geographic proximity, and which, in part because of this, have had intimate links historically, plus Newfoundland, which is separated from the Maritimes by a large expanse of water, has had an exceptionally distinctive history, and entered Confederation only in 1949. Typically, the history of the region is written province-by-province, or, occasionally, the three Maritimes are treated as a collectivity. Conrad and Hiller have woven a coherent narrative, no easy task for such a diverse and complex region. Although not the product of original research, the book is nonetheless based on a sure command of the available scholarly material, which is thereby, in effect, made accessible. It is wellbalanced both in terms of the Maritimes-Newfoundland dichotomy and in other respects. Notably, the authors never neglect the First Nations, who tend to disappear from histories once they cease to threaten the survival of settler populations. Conrad and Hiller are also sensitive to the differences in the situations of, for example, the Mi=kmaq and the Innu. Thus comprehensiveness of treatment is combined with awareness of specificity. There are occasional lapses in accuracy. New Brunswick was not the only officially bilingual province when Premier Louis Robichaud made it so in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 134-136
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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