The related subjects of political legitimacy and system support are key theoretical concerns of students of democratic societies. They have received very little scholarly attention, however, because of the conceptual and methodological complexities they engender. In this book, the authors address these concerns through systematic multivariate analyses of the sources, distribution and consequences of variations in citizen support for key political objects in one such society, Canada. Although they do so within a comparative context, their primary focus is on Canada because it is not only one of the world's oldest democracies, but is a country that has experienced support problems that periodically have reached crisis proportions. Many of the problems facing Canada are extreme examples of difficulties that have vexed other democracies and this study helps illuminate both the conditions under which democracies in general are able to sustain themselves and those under which they could flounder. The authors demonstrate that political support has its origins in people's political socialization experiences and their judgments about the operation of key political and economic institutions and processes. They find that political support is not of a piece and that average citizens are able to distinguish among and ascribe different degrees of support to key political objects such as Parliament, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, parties, the system of federalism, and the national political community itself.
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