Fonds 1273 - Joseph F. Fletcher fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1273


Joseph F. Fletcher fonds


  • [196-?] - 2015 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

6.44 m of textual records (50 boxes)
6 cassette tapes

Context area

Name of creator

(1949 -)

Biographical history

Joseph F. Fletcher (1949-) is a political scientist and Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Toronto (UofT). His major areas of focus are perceptions of civil liberties in both Canada and Australia, Canadian constitutional politics, and quantitative research design.

Prof. Fletcher was born in Philadelphia in 1949. He received his B.A. (1971) from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, followed by an M.A. from the University of Alberta (1973). He submitted his Ph.D. thesis, Community through participation: a look at the idea and the evidence, in 1983 to the University of Toronto under the supervision of Christian Bay.

Prof. Fletcher’s academic career was conducted primarily at the University of Toronto’s Department of Political Science and Centre for Criminology. Additionally he held fellowships at the University of Essex (1982), Maison des sciences d l’homme, Paris (1983-4), York University’s Institute for Social Research (1985-1990), and the Research School of the Social Sciences at the Australian National University (1991). He began as lecturer at the UofT’s Department of Political Science in 1976 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1991. Prof. Fletcher was the first in his department to introduce quantitative methods into his undergraduate courses, frequently incorporating hands-on survey and experimental exercises. This analytic method was subsequently made a degree requirement. Prof. Fletcher retired from the UofT in 2015.

Prof. Fletcher’s early research focused on attitudes toward civil liberties. Following his dissertation, he and colleagues, Paul Sniderman, Peter Russell, and Philip Tetlock, began their investigation of how the recent adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) was reflected in Canadian attitudes towards democratic freedoms. Commonly referred to as The Charter Project, the study was intended to create a baseline measurement of Canadian beliefs surrounding language rights, equality, indigenous rights, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and criminal rights of both the general public and ‘decision-makers’. It also was the first national study to use computer-assisted telephone interviewing techniques (CATI), combining randomized experiments with survey research.

Following this study, Prof. Fletcher continued his research into civil liberties in Australia where he worked with a team of researchers on the Australian Rights Project. The study surveyed individuals following the country’s rejection of a ratified bill of rights. This research was accompanied by a comparative study between Canada and Australia. His later work continued to look at Canada’s constitutional politics, including bi-nationalism, the judiciary, and attitudes towards specific democratic values.

Together with UofT (Psychology) colleague John Bassili, Prof. Fletcher founded the consulting firm Arkelon Research (1990) which provided independent research and surveying services to organizations including federal, provincial, and municipal governments. Bassili and Fletcher developed a method and apparatus for measuring response times in telephone surveys which resulted in a U.S. patent (1993). His professional activities included organization of a symposium to honour Peter Russell and the editing of an associated publication Ideas in Actions: Essays on Politics and Law in Honour of Peter Russell (1999). Fletcher also co-authored The Clash of Rights: Liberty, Equality and Legitimacy in Pluralist Democracy (1996) and, in addition to frequent conference presentations, published numerous scholarly articles. In the latter part of his career these focused on the application of statistical modelling techniques to political, psychological, biological, and educational processes.

Prof. Fletcher currently divides his time between Pacific Grove, California and Victoria, B.C. where he is appointed respectively, visiting professor at University of California Santa Cruz and lecturer at the University of Victoria.

Archival history

Material was transferred directly from donor.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of textual records documenting the professional life and work of Prof. Joseph F. Fletcher. Records include Fletcher’s research, advisory work, publishing activity, teaching, conference attendance and planning, as well as documentation of his early career at the UofT. The fonds contains significant coverage of two of Prof. Fletcher’s research projects, The Charter Project and the Australian Rights Project. Material is largely focused on the various issues surrounding civil and political rights in Canada which comprise a significant component of Fletcher’s writing, presentations, and research. Fonds also includes extensive teaching material from Prof. Fletcher’s career at the UofT, in addition to records related to his involvement in the Ideas in Actions: Essays on Politics and Law in Honour of Peter Russell symposium and resulting publication. Records include correspondence, typescripts and drafts, surveys, data print-outs, notes, correspondence, lecture notes, and background and reading material. See series descriptions for additional information.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions governing access

All files are open, with the exception of the files listed below. Please see series descriptions for additional information.

  • Series 2 (Consulting): B2015-0016/002(11)
  • Series 5 (Writing and publishing): B2015-0016/012(05)
  • Series 6 (Teaching): B2015-0016/018(11)
  • Series 7 (Research) B2015-0016/029(11); B2015-0016/037(08); B2015-0016/040(02)

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

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Related units of description

Documentation of The Charter Project can also be found at the UofT’s Map & Data Library: Attitudes toward civil liberties and the Canadian Charter of Rights, 1987.

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