Individual value priorities, education, and political tolerance

  • Golebiowska E
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Extensive research on political tolerance identifies numerous social, psychological, and political sources of attitudes toward political dissenters. Much of this research underscores the salutary influence of education on greater acceptance of diversity, although some sophisticated work questions the strength of the linkage between education and tolerance. This study has two principal goals. First, it attempts to point to an alternative source of tolerance that has been given very little attention in the extant literature. Specifically, it argues that increases in political tolerance may be tied to the broad-based value shift allegedly sweeping through advanced industrial society. Second, research reported in this paper provides more evidence for the robustness of the education-tolerance relationship and offers one possible explanation for why this relationship exists. It suggests that one of the reasons higher education tends to be linked with greater tolerance is because it leads to individual value priorities that are conducive to greater openness to political diversity. A multivariate model of political tolerance is estimated that demonstrates modern versus traditional values contribute most to variation in tolerant attitudes, followed by education. The explanation of indirect effects of education on tolerance through its direct impact on values receives empirical support as well. The endeavor concludes by outlining some tentative predictions concerning the attainment of a more tolerant polity that would fare well when evaluated by the liberal democratic theory yardstick.

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  • Ewa A. Golebiowska

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