Current Research

1. The demographic contradictions of liberal democracy

  • Funding: post-doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada)
  • Schedule: September 2003-August 2005
  • Deliverable: Monograph, database, web site

This project examines the impact the shift in the demographic foundation of liberal democracies since their inception has on the capacity for liberal-democratic governance. Two demographic cleavages have emerged:

  1. Inter-generational conflict as a result of an aging population whose proportion among the general population is growing while the number of young people diminishes;
  2. Ethno-political conflict in an increasingly heterogeneous society due to greater migratory flows.

Liberal-democratic governance and institutions emerged under demographic conditions where neither cleavage had emerged as a major source of political conflict. Societal conflict in modern society has always transpired along demographic cleavages, such as class, region, and gender. However, the shift in demographic foundations of industrialized societies along generational and ethnic lines has rendered socio-political conflict over demographically determined interests increasingly salient. Due to the historical conditions under which liberal-democratic systems of governance emerged, they are ill-equipped to deal with the increasingly demographic nature of socio-political conflict. The shift in demographic foundations in industrialized societies thus threatens to undermine their capacity for liberal-demographic governance. By explicating these trends, the investigation seeks to compare and assess how different liberal democracies are coping with their shifting demographic foundations.

1.1. Political demography of federalism

  • Funding: research supplement from SSHRC's Federalism and Federations programme
  • Schedule: September 2003-August 2005
  • Deliverable: Articles, database, web site

Federations are uniquely affected by the aforementioned shift in demographic foundations. In a unitary state, the relationship between citizens and the state is vertical. A federation, however, adds a horizontal dimension to that relationship with the federal state relating internally to sub-federal states. In a federation, generational divisions and ethnic heterogeneity pose a particular challenge: Whereas sub-units with aging populations coincide with more homogeneous and rural populations, sub-units with younger populations coincide with more heterogeneous and urban populations. The shift in demographic foundations pits federal sub-units against one another. The socio-political conflict arising out of inter-generational and inter-ethnic conflict is thus exacerbated. In an attempt to be able to identify federal sub-units facing similar demographic trends, the investigation's first objective is to set up a database that will facilitate ready comparison of the federal units of the world's major liberal-democratic federations according to demographic factors. Its secondary aim is to compare how demographic conflict is playing itself out in these federations.

2. Development of Special-Operations Concepts and Doctrine

  • Principal investigator: LCol Dr. David Last, Royal Military College of Canada
  • Funding: Chief of Staff J3 Counter Terrorism and Special Operations (J3 CTSO) at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ)
  • Schedule: September 2003-March 2004

The project aims to develop "joint special-operations doctrine and concepts." While doctrine is the primary responsibility of the writing matrix at NDHQ, concepts will be the primary responsibility of the research matrix, located mainly at RMC. Concepts will inform doctrine.

2.1. Demographic change, ethnic conflict and implications for domestic and international special operations

  • Co-investigator: Todd Hataley, Queen's University
  • Funding: Part of the Service Level Agreement with CTSO
  • Deliverable: Chapter in an anthology forthcoming summer 2004

The project traces the disaggregated trajectory of immigration to Canadian regions and cities. It then compares these trends with the current allocation of resources to perceived threats posed by communities as manifest in surveillance and operations by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Policy, and the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, and in the prohibition of certain organizations by the Ministry of Justice. The objective is to show that there exist substantial discrepancies between perceived threat and potential threat as measured in terms of immigration. The implication is an improved allocation of resources in order to minimize the probability of having to use special-operations forces as an anti-terrorist on Canadian soil, to conceptualize the possible scenarios of domestic special-forces operations, to facilitate the logistics, communications, and inter-departmental collaboration these domestic scenarios might require, and to identify the constraints - legal, civil and otherwise - involved relative to JTF-2's counter-insurgency operations abroad.

2.2. US Homeland Security and the role of the implication of the Canada-US border for domestic and international special operations

  • Co-investigator: Todd Hataley, Queen's University
  • Funding: Part of the Service Level Agreement with CTSO
  • Deliverable: Chapter in an anthology forthcoming summer 2004

This project investigates the impact of the nascent Department of US Homeland Security for special operations with bi-national implications or special operations that might require bi-national co-operation.

3. Strategies for regulating ethnic conflict: Mauritius and Fiji in comparative perspective

  • Co-investigator: Dr. Bob Stockwell, University of California at Santa Cruz
  • Seed funding: the University of Pennsylvania's Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict with supplementary funding being sought from four private US foundations
  • Schedule: October 2003-August 2004
  • Deliverable: Article and future monograph

This investigation seeks to understand why ethnic relations have turned out so different in two countries so much alike. The answer, so the project's contention, is to be found in political institutions. Their structure, however, is largely contingent upon sociological dynamics. Since the Mauritius and Fiji are so similar, it is relatively easy to control for a whole number of variables which are notoriously difficult to isolate in other cases. The objective is to generate hypothesis about the sociological conditions under which one strategy or another for the regulation of ethnic conflict might be adopted. Demographics, not grievance or culture as one might expect based on the literature, appear to be a pivotal intervening variable.

4. Ethnopolitical Marginalization, Culturally-Specific Health Beliefs, and Community Health Crisis: The Roma in Central Europe and North America

  • Principal investigators: Dr. Daniel Holland, University of Arkansas and Dr. Shanee Stepakoff, Harvard University School of Medicine
  • Seed Funding awarded by the University of Pennsylvania's Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict with supplementary funding being sought from the Canadian Institute for Health Research
  • Schedule: October 2003-August 2004
  • Deliverables: Workshops, manual for practitioners, possibly an article

Eastern and Central Europe's Roma are experiencing an acute public-health crisis which partially explains why the are immigrating to North America in growing numbers. Little is known about the culturally specific health believes and health behaviours of the Roma. In order to serve this immigrant population better, and in order to live up to the liberal-democratic imperatives of equality of condition and equality of opportunity, North American healthcare needs more information on these beliefs and behaviours. Most Roma immigrants to North America come to Toronto where they now number almost 100,000. They originate mainly among the 500,000 Roma in Slovakia. These two locations are the point of departure for this study being carried out in conjunction with Toronto's Roma Community and Advocacy Centre and with health-care professionals and policy-makers in Toronto, Slovakia, and Hungary. One of the objectives in Canada is to convene a workshop to initiate a dialogue between the Roma, health-care professionals, and civil servant from the municipal, provincial and federal governments. The idea is to develop a working manual that will help inform the development of culturally relevant and culturally sensitive community health programmes for immigrant Roma in North America. Due to an increasingly heterogeneous immigrant population, bridging the cleavage between Western health practices and cultural health beliefs and behaviours is a growing issue on which very little research has been conducted.

I am also working on:

  • an article on the problems associated with banning ethnopolitical minority parties, to be published by the International Journal of Political Science;
  • with Drs. Chris McCreery (Queen's University) and James McHugh (Roosevelt University) on an article on assessing the benefits and drawbacks of regular election cycles in a Westminster parliamentary system such as Canada's, to be published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science;
  • with Drs. John Meisel, Hugh Thorburn and Ted Hodgetts (all of Queen's University), on an anthology and conference devoted to the first generation of Canadian political scientists and their contributions to the field;
  • with Chris McCreery on an article comparing the situation facing Canada with the American National Missile Defence project, with Wilfrid Laurier's 1911 Naval Bill;
  • an article on the method for studying political demography;
  • an article on the political demography of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
  • and I will be publishing my dissertation which I wrote on the political demography of ethnic violence, with Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, the Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions in China, Estonia and Transylvania, and Mauritius and Fiji as my test cases.

Future research

1. Political sociology of military recruitment

  • Funding: the Department of National Defence's Directorate of Human-Resources Research and Evaluation with supplementary funding to be sought through SSHRC's new initiative on Multicultural Issues in Canada
  • Deliverables: Workshop, article, anthology

Population ageing confronts the Canadian military with unique challenges in terms of recruitment. First, population ageing causes the youth cohort, conventionally understood as the cohort of youth between 15 and 24 years of age, to shrink in proportion and size. Since that is the cohort from which the military draws most of it recruits, one may postulate that the pool of potential recruits diminishes proportionately and possibly even absolutely. Second, industrialized countries rely increasingly on immigration to decelerate population ageing. As a result, the populations of industrialized countries are becoming more heterogeneous. Yet, relative to their proportion among the population as a whole, ethnic minorities tend to be underrepresented in the military. What is more, the ethnic component of the military is increasing at a much slower rate than the ethnic component of the population as a whole.

This project investigates cycles in the desirability of the military profession from the angle of political demography. Is the impact of this trend differentiated among services, that is, have some services, such as the navy or air force, fared better than others, such as infantry, by virtue of being able to attract a greater proportion of women? Similarly, are "non-whites" who do join more inclined to join some groups of service than others? If members of some ethnic groups are more likely to join than members of other ethnic groups, is that a function of ethnicity, of the number of generations a family has been established in the country, or is it a reflection of the ways, means and effort by which ethnic communities are being targeted for recruitment? Is the claim that "non-whites" are less likely to join the military actually true? Does it merely reflect the fact that ethnic minorities are concentrated in urban areas, that city-dwellers in general are less likely to join and that when one controls for ethnic belonging, it turns out that the proportion of urban whites and urban "non-whites" who join the military is comparable? Recruits are predominantly from the lower middle class. Is socio-economic status also a determinant among "non-white" recruits and if so, are they also predominantly lower middle class or from a different socio-economic background? Recruitment fares better during hard economic times. Does the proportion of "non-white" recruits increase as well during economic downturns or does it remain stable once one controls for macro-economic factors? In the Canadian context, one would also want to know what points of con- and divergence exist between white and "non-white" Anglophones and Francophones.

2. Support for ethnic radicalism in the diaspora

  • Principal investigator: Dr. Clark McCauley, Bryn Mawr College and University of Pennsylvania
  • Funding: Being sought from the Social Science Research Council and other American agencies
  • Deliverables: Conference, article, anthology, and possibly a future monograph

The investigation seeks to understand the reasoning behind and circumstances governing the support certain diasporas in liberal democracies lend to ethnic radicalism and violence in their countries of origin. This project is motivated by the belief that a better understanding of the underlying dynamics will assist in the formation of policies designed to undercut diaspora funding on which terrorist organizations abroad rely heavily. The investigation tests the validity of several psychological and sociological explanations in order to ascertain whether such support is borne out of reactive frustration engendered by the discrimination, relative material deprivation and so forth experienced by expatriate communities or whether it is the result of orchestrated collective action. The project has several collaborators. My contribution will compare Muslim diasporas in Canada, the United States, France, and Germany.

3. A collaboration with Ted Gurr's Minorities at Risk project in order to collect, weigh and add relevant demographic data to the database.

  • Deliverable: Enhanced database