Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Charlotte A.B. Yates


Peter Graefe



Committee Member

Joyce Zemans


My research examines the political role of unions, as the collective voice of Canadian cultural workers, in connection to the cultural policies that shape their memberships’ personal and professional lives. I examine the policy advocacy strategies of Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists; the Directors Guild of Canada; the Writers Guild of Canada; the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada; and the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees IATSE, as members of federal and provincial cultural policy networks.

I argue that changes in cultural policy influence the level of participation and the political strategies of the unions and guilds in federal and provincial cultural policy networks. Shifts in organizational and political strategies affect the ways that unions articulate their interests as policy problems; this, in turn, affects the ways in which issues and problems are understood and acted upon by decision-makers in policy reforms. While most of the unions and guilds, particularly at the federal level, have been active in cultural policy networks for several decades, unions at both federal and provincial levels are increasingly partnering with the employers – the independent producers – in their policy interventions. Analysis of my case studies leads me to conclude that this strategy is paradoxical for unions. While a partnership approach from a “production industry” standpoint arguably increases union access to and credibility with policy decision-makers, it can compromise or obscure how unions articulate cultural policy problems as labour problems. When unions engage in policy advocacy either independently or as a labour coalition, the direct relationship between cultural policy and its specific impact on labour markets and working conditions is most evident.

McMaster University Library