9780143014232 / 0143014234

Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values


Publisher:Penguin Group (Canada)



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About the book:

Long before 9-11, Americans were changing. Their values were becoming more socially conservative, their waistlines were getting rounder, and they were more deferential to authority figures. Meanwhile, an opposite trend took root north of the border. Canadians were becoming more tolerant, open to risk, and questioning of the institutions that governed them. How is it that traditionally individualistic Americans have suddenly switched places with order-loving Canadians? Michael Adams, president of the Environics polling firm, tries to answer this question and probe the diverging values of Americans and Canadians in his book Fire and Ice.

Adams acknowledges his thesis is rather iconoclastic. Some commentators have suggested that Canadians have become simply Americans in parkas. But after 14,413 interviews over 10 years, Adams surprised even himself with his results: Canadians and Americans are not only becoming more dissimilar, they are also reversing roles, and the diverging trends have only increased since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Adams tested Canadians and Americans on over 100 values. He found that a growing number of Americans believes that "the father of the family must be master in his own home" (49 percent in 2000, up from 44 percent in 1996 and 42 percent in 1992). In Canada, fewer people agree that father knows best (18 percent in 2000, down from 26 percent in 1992). Canadians are increasingly bigger risk-takers, too. In 2000, 42 percent of Canadians and 54 percent of Americans said they did not like changing their habits. More Americans believe men are naturally superior to women, and fully 44 percent of Americans said they relate best to people who do not show emotions (compared to 30 percent of Canadians). Adams's book is heavy on statistics and light on explanations behind the trends, but it gives revealing insights into the world's only superpower and its neighbour to the north. --Alex Roslin

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