Language Policy and Social Change in a Bilingual CityMarc V. Levine
Although Montreal has been a bilingual city since 1760 and demographically dominated by French-speakers for well over a century and a quarter, it was not until the late 1960s that full-fledged challenges to the city’s English character emerged. Since then. two decades of agitation over la question linguistique as well as the enactment of three language laws have altered the places of French and English in Montreal‘s schools, public administration, economy. and even commercial signs. In this book, Marc Levine examines the nature of this stunning transformation and, in particular, the role of public policy in promoting it.
The reconquest of Montreal by the French-speaking majority makes for interesting history. It includes episodes of intense conflict and occasional violence and tells the fascinating story of how an economically disadvantaged and culturally threatened linguistic community mobilized politically and used the state to redistribute group power in Canada’s second largest city. In addition, the history of Montreal’s language question offers analysts of urban politics and public policy an excellent case study of some of the central issues facing cities containing more than one major linguistic community.
After tracing the politicization of the language question in the 1960s and 1970s, Levine analyzes the impact of the three controversial language laws penacted by the Quebec provincial government between 1969 and 1977. Exhaustively researched, The Reconquest of Montreal is the definitive study of the most explosive issue in Quebec political life.
"Levine's superb analysis of postwar Montreal language politics is...a model case study with significant implications both for urban development and socio-linguistics."
—International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
"As an outsider as well as an academic, Levine is able to analyze the language situation more objectively than most local commentators of either of the main language groups. (His) comprehensive analysis of public policy measures affecting the relative positions of French and English in Montreal goes far beyond the mere language laws that Quebec has adopted since the late 1960s.... Anyone interested in language in Quebec will find it a valuable historical summation of a peaceful revolution, and a helpful explanation of why, and how, we've come to Bill 178."
"Political scientists and economists...can learn much from historian Marc Levine.... (He) has a keen appreciation of major issues in political economy and a proper skepticism about simple explanations.... Levine's book is far richer than what can be captured in a short review. It is thoroughly researched, gracefully written, and carefully thought out. It is recommended to students of political economy, ethnic and minority relations, Canadian politics, and urban affairs—indeed to all those who have an appreciation for intelligent and sophisticated analysis."
—American Political Science Review