Sociology 211

October 4 and 8, 2004


Attitudes of Canadians about multicultural issues


While it may be difficult to observe social practices and impossible to observe social relationships in their entirety, social scientists hope that measuring attitudes can provide some insight into public views and practices.   It is unlikely that attitudes fully reflect what people do, but differences in attitudes among members of different groups may give some idea of how people will act in certain situations.  These attitudes are also reflective of language and discourse used.  For example, if terms such as niggers, kikes, etc. are acceptable, this most likely indicates racist attitudes and behaviour are embedded in the minds of people.  Where people say they respect others and view multicultural reality as a positive aspect of society, this likely indicates some willingness to attempt to work together, be less discriminatory, and be positive toward members of cultural groups other than one’s own.


·        Fleras and Kunz (pp. 22-25) note two things about this.  First, support does not mean enthusiasm.  Some are enthusiastic about diversity but many Canadians merely accept it as reality, and are tolerant toward others.   This may not mean acceptance of others and could be associated with some degree of suspicion.  The second argument they make is that Canadians are generally agreed that people of other cultures have a right to practice that culture, and they may even respect the culture and wish to know more about it.  But support is much more selective when it comes to specific changes in ideas, institutions, and structures.  Fleras and Kunz argue that “multiculturalism may be rejected when its endorsement is thought to be eroding Canada’s sense of national identity, challenging authority or core values, encouraging separation or division” (p. 22). 


·        Centre for Research and Information on Canada (CRIC).  Results from two polls dealing with multicultural issues are available at the CRIC web site :


            In particular, two power point presentations are available as follows. 


A New Canada? The Evolution of Canadian Identity and Attitudes to Diversity.
CRIC Presentation.
April-May 2003
(PowerPoint Document)

CRIC Survey : New Canada revisited (PowerPoint Document)

·        Data from the Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences, Fall 1998 (SSAE98) at the University of Regina are at