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Education and Tolerance

A Comparative Quantitative Analysis of the Educational Effect on Tolerance

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Lenka Drazanova

This book examines to what extent the effect of education on political and social tolerance varies cross-nationally. It gives an inventory of micro- and macro- level factors moderating this effect. The empirical analysis is based on comparative surveys across 24 and 33 countries at two time points. Results indicate that the positive effect of education does not always overcome the negative effects of personality characteristics and low socio-economic status. Moreover, education contributes to more tolerant views only in countries with certain political, socio-economic and cultural background. Overall, the book argues that there are several micro- and macro-level conditions that should be fulfilled before one may proclaim education as the universal problem solver.

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1. Introduction: Education and Tolerance

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The stability, legitimacy and effectiveness of political systems depend on the diffusion of values which support them within the population. Some scholars indeed argue that the prevailing political culture seems to be more essential for the functioning of political regimes than its formal institutional arrangements (Almond and Verba 1963; Inglehart 1988; Easton 1965; Jaros and Canon 1969). When looking at multiple historical examples of democratic failures, once a democracy is established, its quality and survival seem to require popular legitimacy, citizen participation, acceptance of the rules of the game and a necessary resistance to the allurement of anti-system movements and leaders (Slomcyznski and Shabad 1998, 752). As Farnen and Meloen (2000, 4) rightly emphasise, “to maintain the stability of a political system/culture, it must directly or indirectly transfer political knowledge, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, values, ideologies and behavioural intentions and predispositions from one generation to another.” Theorists of democracy have concurred that it is the establishment of appropriate norms in the citizens that is the most reliable and effective method of peaceful coexistence between diverse societal segments and minority rights protection (Jackman and Muha 1984, 752).1

The composition of modern societies is changing faster than in any other time period before. The globalised economy requires higher world-wide mobility and produces more social, ethnic and religious heterogeneity within societies. This adds new dimensions to people’s everyday experiences – they come to contact and are forced to deal with different cultures and forms of life to a much higher...

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