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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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6. Conclusion: Implications for Research, Policy and Practice

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6.1 Overview

The main motivation for writing this book was to better understand tolerance and specifically how education affects tolerance. Political and social tolerance are both basic prerequisites and necessary preconditions, although not sufficient ones, for liberal democracy (Inglehart and Welzel 2005; Lipset 1959; Mill 1859). Intolerance can restrict civil rights and individual freedom and its implications are important for every country regardless of its political regime. Education, on the other hand, is often seen as “a principal vehicle in modern societies for transmitting social and cultural values, including those of tolerance and social acceptance” (Weldon 2006, 338). The link between education and tolerance has been one of the most solid findings in existing empirical research (Martin and Westie 1959; Vogt 1997; Hagendoorn and Nekuee 1999). Nevertheless, the work presented here was guided by two general problems with the widely accepted relationship; (1) the problem of universality and (2) the problem of explanation.

In line with the first problem, one of the central questions of the present book asked whether one can really expect education to be a general problem solver. Many theoretical approaches commonly expect education to be an universal mechanism that will solve many problems faced by contemporary societies such as intolerance, discrimination and lack of democratic rule. The implication of universality leads many theorists to assume that simply increasing the quantity of higher educated individuals and possibly the quality of the educational systems ought to lead to a spread of liberal...

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