Byron Sheldrick

University of Guelph

Byron Sheldrick is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph. He has a BA from Carleton University, a LLB from Univeristy of Toronto), and a MA and PhD from York University. Byron’s research and teaching interests straddle the intersection of law and political science. He considers himself a political economist - seeking to understand political phenomena in terms of their relationship to economic factors. More particularly, how the structures of capitalism influence the organization of the state and politics around state policy. This focus has led to an interest in social movements, particularly anti-poverty groups and their mobilization around the welfare state and community economic development initiatives. It has also led to an interest in the strategies of social democratic movements, particularly in Canada and the United Kingdom. With respect to law, his research interests are in issues of human rights and social justice, and he has focused on social movement activism around legal issues and how law has become incorporated into the organization of states.

His publications include: Perils and Possibilities: Social Activism and the Law (Fernwood Publishing); “Welfare in Winnipeg’s Inner City: Exploring the Myths” Canadian Journal of Urban Research; “Community Economic Development: Governance and State-Civil Society Relations” in John Loxley (ed) Transforming or Reforming Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Community Economic Development (Fernwood Publishing); and, “The Left in Canada” in Joan Grace and B. Sheldrick (eds), Canadian Politics: Democracy and Dissent (Pearson Education)

  • Perils and Possibilities

    Social Activism and the Law

    By Byron Sheldrick     January 2004

    This book argues that law is a political resource that carries with it both opportunities and dangers for social activists. As such, activist groups must carefully navigate the contradictions within law to evaluate the strategic and tactical issues raised by law and legal institutions. Perils and Possibilities provides a guide to these issues and explores the types of questions activist groups need to ask themselves before embarking on a campaign of legal mobilization. In addition to a brief exploration of some overarching theoretical questions, Byron Sheldrick examines in a concrete and practical fashion the contradictions of rights discourse, strategic questions posed by the process of going to court and the importance of the administrative boards and tribunals for the politics of social activists. Set in the Canadian context, the book also makes use of experiences drawn from the USA and Britain.