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Western alienation and intra-regional variation : a comparative study of regional discontent in British Columbia and Alberta Wong, Daniel


This paper is based upon a comparative study of regional discontent in British Columbia and Alberta. It is proposed that there are fundamental differences between the provinces with respect to the ideological, partisan, and class correlates of the dependent variable, 'western alienation1. If such differences are found, and if they cannot be explained by structural dissimilarities between the communities, then it is plausible that the phenomenon known as 'alienation' is in fact a collection of functionally distinct belief systems. An analysis of data compiled from two sample surveys suggests that such differences do occur. While there is some convergence between the two communities with respect to the partisan correlates of alienation (i.e., alienation is fundamentally an anti-Liberal sentiment in both provinces), there are major discrepencies where ideological and class antecedants are considered. In British Columbia, alienation is primarily a working class and 'liberal! phenomenon, while in Alberta it is more closely associated with ideological conservatism, and is not systematically related to any particular social class. Moreover, these differences are not 'washed away1 by appropriate controls. The paper concludes with the assertion that western alienation is not a homogeneous, 'pan-regional' phenomenon, but is rather a collection of diverse belief systems which vary perceptibly along provincial lines. Finally, it is argued that the study of Canadian federalism stands to benefit if greater attention is paid to differences between provincial communities.

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