Misrecognized Materialists: Social Movements in Canadian Constitutional Politics, Matt James, Vancouver: UBC Press, 2006, pp. xii, 170.
For any Canadian political scientist it can be incredibly challenging to present new approaches to constitutional research and memorable, quotable lines capturing the results. Matt James contributes to the legacy of memorable Canadian constitutional research self-deprecating jokes with his opening line “constitutional politics is a Canadian synonym for futility” (1). James's contribution does not end with his subtle yet subversive observation of the Canadian constitutional story. Misrecognized Materialists: Social Movements in Canadian Constitutional Politics is an important addition to a number of Canadian political science fields. James not only presents a novel approach to Canada's constitutional evolution but also produces provocative and significant empirical and analytical material concerning Canadian social movements. In addition, while pursuing his empirical goals, James presents a fascinating historical discursive tale of parliamentary committees, tinged with off-colour comments from tradition-seeking senators (see Harry Hays, 84–85) and surprisingly ambitious positions from over-zealous witnesses (throughout the work). Selecting committee testimonies as the main form of primary research and empirical evidence appropriately fits James' theoretical challenges to Ronald Inglehart's New Politics theory and others' reliance on post-material explanatory tools in constructing social movements' role in constitutional politics.