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Left-Right identification and education in Europe: A contingent relationship

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In the American research tradition, education has long been argued to push one toward a liberal political ideology. Traditionally, education has been associated with the upper classes of society and thereby with a more right-wing, conservative political ideology. Recent research demonstrates an inconsistent relationship between the ideological leaning of various political attitudes and education. This article reviews current theory on education and ideology and finds three perspectives dominate the literature: self-interest theses, developmental theses and socialization theses. Self-interest theories follow the traditional association of education with the upper classes and thereby with right-wing ideology. Developmental theses argue that education contributes to liberal political attitudes by stimulating cognitive development and expanding an individual's perspective. Socialization theses argue that education contributes to political attitudes by social learning processes. A specific example of a socialization perspective is the core values thesis. This thesis argues that education propagates the transmission of a society's core values. To this thesis, I add that an individual's personality is important in this process. As such I test a three-way interaction which provides support for the modified core values thesis: personality and context interact to influence the ideological leaning of our political attitudes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Political Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 July 2011

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