Quebec Studies

The Development and Nationalization of Social Sciences in Quebec

Quebec Studies (1986), 4, (1), 71–89.


THE DEVELOPMENT AND NATIONALIZATION OF SOCIAL SCIENCES IN QUEBEC Alain G. Gagnon This study examines the evolution of the role of Quebec intellectuals in the social sciences from 1945 to 1980. To a certain extent, it reflects the debates and ambiguities found in the attempts of these intellectuals to locate Quebec society as a subject of analysis, as well as their social involvement to shape this society along lines consistent with the characterizations developed in their own works. Elsewhere,' I have discussed at some length concrete manifestations of the social involvement of intellectuals in technocratic planning, the trade-union movement, citizens' groups, and extra-academic intellectual networks such as Purti Pris and the Centre de formation populaire. I have argucd that the social sciences in Quebec have passed through three distinct periods of development since World War 11: a first period extending until the end of the Duplcssis regime in 1959 involved a struggle for the legitimacy of the social sciences; a second period (1960-69) coincided with the beginning of the Quiet Revolution and the expansion of the state, and can be characterized as a phase of legitimacy on the march; and finally, the third period (1970-80) was defined as one of legitimacy in crisis. This analysis is divided into two main sections. In the first, I analyze the role of intellectuals in general and in the social sciences more specifically. The social significance of intellectual practice is also addressed. The second section of this essay studies the processes of institutionalization and maturation. Institutionalization is defined in this study as the process of acquiring the material human resources and the relative autonomy necessary for the establishment of selfregulated production and reproduction of intellectual capital and posi-tions. Maturation is conceptualized as a process of strengthening legitimacy and of furthering the relative autonomy of the field.

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Author details

Gagnon, Alain