However, in addition to being part of the Americanization process, this has also sparked hostility and anti-American sentiments as well, for some Canadians who believe Canadian culture is being lost to the United States. Demonstrations in front of American enterprises, boycotts of American iconic products like Coca-Cola, and even vandalizing McDonald's outlets have all been a part of this effort to not succumb to Americanization.
Mechanisms Underlying America's Influence on Canada
There are several mechanisms underlying the Americanization of Canada, and thus affecting its political processes and outcomes. These, Craig, Douglas and Bennett state, are similar to the mechanisms involved in internationalization and globalization of consumption. Increasing foreign travel, to America, is one such mechanism. This increases direct Canadian exposure to American customs, lifestyles and mores. This mechanism has been in place for generations, with the expansion of railway systems being one of the first transportation improvements that facilitated easy travel between the two countries. Recently, the spread of the Internet too has increased exposure to American culture, with the ease of communication thanks to e-mail and VOIP technologies.
These mechanisms can be broadly conceptualized a terms of people, products, information, and transmission of cultural content from America to Canada. Citing sociologist Appadurai, Craig, Douglas and Bennett identify five types of global flows responsible for transforming the nature of society -- Mediascapes, Ethnoscapes, Ideoscapes, Technoscapes, and Finanscapes. Mediascapes are the most far reaching and center on the flow of images and communication. Ethnoscapes are the flows of tourists, migrants and foreign students. Ideoscapes are the flow of political ideas and ideologies. Technoscapes center on the flow of technologies. Lastly, Finanscapes involve the flow of money and capital.
We see this transformation of Canadian society, and the resultant political outcomes, clearly in these global flows through history. Mediascapes were as important in imparting American culture on Canada today as they were nearly a century earlier, with Canada's love for American film and radio programs still going strong. Ethnoscapes have only increased over the decades as travel has become easier between the two countries. However, even when travel was a difficult process, Americans still came to Canada for work and for pleasure. Technoscapes in the form of everything from computing technologies to medical technologies to transportation technologies will continue to play a part in American culture affecting Canadian politics. Finanscapes too have been an important facet in America's influence over Canada since the beginning, with Americans owning business and providing financing capital to the country from Revolutionary times. Lastly, Ideoscapes are the most direct American effect on Canadian politics. From the imitation of America's New Deal, to the mimicking of policies in the 1980s, to NAFTA in the early 1990s the political ideologies of America have shaped Canadian politics over the last two centuries.
American Cultural Values Similar to Canadian Cultural Values as an Influence
Culture can be defined as the complex and pervasive influence that underlies all facets of social behaviors and attitudes. Culture manifests itself as the societal values and norms and affects how the societal members interact. These societal norms mold the customs, attitudes and lifestyles of its members, according to Craig, Douglas and Bennett. Societal norms also deeply impact political maneuverings and outcomes. The mechanisms for penetration from one culture into another are varied. At the individual level, when discussing American culture's affect on Canada, this may occur when a Canadian travels to America and develops a taste for a product or fondness for a custom. At the subgroup level, immigrants bring products, artifacts and customs with them to their new country. In this case, although there have been other nationalities that are larger immigrant subgroups, Americans have penetrated Canada en masse in the past, such as during the Canadian Gold Rush.
Craig, Douglas and Bennet's research on Americanization of countries found that Americanization was not necessarily a function of the general trend toward internationalization, as one would expect. Instead, countries whose underlying national value system closely resembled that of the United States were more likely to succumb to Americanization. These countries were more likely to adopt an American-style lifestyle, with an interest in American entertainment. These countries were not necessarily the ones more open to or exposed to global ideas, products and communications. The researchers conclude that whether or not a country becomes Americanized will depend on whether or not they have similar cultural values.
The American Economy's Direct and Indirect Effect on Canadian Politics:
Applying Craig, Douglas and Bennett's findings to Canada specifically, one sees how powerful an influence America is to Canadian culture, and by default its relationship with politics. Canadian cultural values, due in part to its shared British history and its geographic proximity, are similar enough to America's cultural values that being further affected by American culture is not totally alien to the nation. The two countries are so interlinked that it's impossible not to have some facet of American culture or their economy affect Canada, and therefore affect Canadian politics.
Canadian exports to the United States, for 2008, were valued at $28.9 billion. Imports from the United States for the same year were valued at $24.4 billion ("Canadian International"). In 2008, 77% of all Canadian exports went to the United States ("Canadian Industry"). In 2006, Americans made nearly 13.9 million overnight tourist trips to Canada -- more than 76% of the total tourist trips total, for Canada ("Canadian Performance"). Simply looking at these figures alone, it becomes clear that a large part of the Canadian economy is fueled by the American economy.
If the American economy suffers, the Canadian economy is pulled down with it (as experienced with the Great Depression and even more recent economic woes in the United States). When the American economy is on the rise and Americans are spending money, Canada enjoys the benefits of this too. With each ebb and flow of the American economy, Canadian government has to make political decisions and legislation based on the effect they know is tied to the American purse strings. There are indirect effects too, such as the rise to power of contrary political parties when the American economy has negatively affected the Canadian economy and Canada decides it needs a political change to better meet the needs of the country.
In the end, given the sheer size of the America economy, America's shared history with Canada, and the closely aligned cultural values, it's not surprising that America's culture and economy impacts Canadian politics. One only has to look to history to see America's influence again and again, in both good times and in bad. Culturally, Canadians have historically had a fondness for American culture -- embracing American movies and radio programs. As is evidenced by the success of iconic American corporations, Canada enjoys the consumption of American products and services. This has exerted influence over Canadian culture as a whole, and results in a more Americanized country that has an effect on Canadian politics. Economically, America is a large part of the Canadian economy. As if tethered to their more populated neighbor to the south, America's economy directly affects Canada's economy and this, along with the changes due to American cultural influences, has both direct and indirect effects on Canadian politics.
"Canada: History." Encyclopedia. World News Digest. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2009. .
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Canadian Tourism Performance 2006. 2007. Canadian Tourism Commission. 11 Nov. 2009 .
Craig, C., Douglas, S., & Bennett, A. "Contextual and Cultural Factors Underlying Americanization." International Marketing Review 26 (1) 2009: 90-109.
Merelman, Richard M.. Partial Visions: Culture and Politics in Britain, Canada, and the United States. Madison: University of Wisconsin…