Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Edward Bennett

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This is an historical study of a social action. The purpose of the study was two-fold: 1) to document the evolution in Canada of the infant formula controversy, and 2) to use the intervention as a case example with which to propose a theoretical model of social action. In Canada the history of the controversy went from 1978 to 1984. During that time action groups for activists and industry reported similar changes in focus. Their targeted audiences changed from being the general public to being the “power elite”: professionals with political clout and money. The primary topics and groups advocated moved from general consciousness-raising to the subtleties of implementing change activities. Their preferred tactics were at first educational and later stressed monitoring the change process. Industry and activist groups alike initially concentrated on the Third World context of the issues; then activists divided their efforts between implementation in Canada and in developing countries. Both activists and industry claimed great success at goal attainment. A five-stage natural history model of social change is proposed. The model is a reformulation of a sociological framework describing the development of social problems. Social change is posited to evolve through claims-making activities, establishment response, claims-makers’ response, developing alternatives, and a definitional shift. This final stage was added to the original model to reflect the cyclical nature of decision-making to create second-order change.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season