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It's who you know and what you know: exploring the relationship between education and prejudice in adolescence
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2019 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Previous studies have consistently identified an association between higher levels of education and lower levels of anti-immigrant sentiment, but the underlying reasons for this relationship remain unclear. Therefore, this research aims to help explain why education matters for attitudes toward immigrants. This thesis consists of two studies, where in I examine the role of two features of education, specifically the aquistition of knowledge and social relationships.

In the first study, I analyze how two aspects of teaching in schools are associated with anti-immigrant sentiment. I examine education as a means to knowledge by investigating whether the content of education, such as critical thinking and multicultural education, is inversely related to students' prejudice. I also look into the certification of teachers and whether this has a similar effect.

In the second study, I investigate the school as an arena for social interaction and examine the relationship between outgroup contact and prejudiced attitudes. Previous research has found that outgroup contact, especially contact in the form of outgroup friendship, is effective in reducing prejudice. Based on these previous findings, I study how the Secondary Transfer Effect (STE) of friendship with a specific outgroup member is associated with attitudes towards other ethnic or racial groups.

Method: The two studies rely on a cross-sectional survey of Swedish high school students (aged 16-18) administered by 'Forum för levande historia' (Forum for living history) and Statistics Sweden during the 2009-2010 academic year. Additionally, survey participants' responses are matched to registry data. This thesis also uses multilevel (MLM) and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models.

Results: Results show that both aspects of education are correlated with lower levels of anti-immigrant sentiment. The first study, in which education is a means to knowledge, demonstrates that education focused on critical thinking and multiculturalism are negatively correlated with anti-immigrant sentiment. Furthermore, results show that more exposure to teachings about xenophobia and racism is associated with less prejudice. However, when controlling for exposure to critical thinking, as well as learning about religions and cultures, the results show that exposure to learning about xenophobia and racism are no longer significant. Moreover, there is a negative association between exposure to teachers with a teaching certification or teaching degree and prejudice.

Results from the second study, in which the school functions as an arena for social interaction, shows that positive attitudes associated with intergroup friendship not only generalize to the ethnic outgroup of that friend but, more importantly, also to other secondary outgroups. STEs are most frequently found where boundaries between ingroups and outgroups are perceived to be the thickest. Thus, the presence of STEs appears to be group-specific. Previous research on perceived social distance in Sweden and other countries help shed light on these findings.

In summary, the results of this thesis provide evidence of two different complimentary accounts of the negative relationship between education and prejudice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet , 2019. , p. 50
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 81
Keywords [en]
anti-immigrant attitudes, education, critical thinking, multicultural education, teacher qualification, intergroup contact theory, secondary transfer effects, friendship
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-158134ISBN: 978-91-7855-053-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-158134DiVA, id: diva2:1304663
Presentation
2019-05-03, Nvbh 1031, Umeå University, Umeå, 15:55 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Part of project
Anti-immigrant attitudes in a changing Europe., Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Funder
Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, 2014.0019Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P14-0775:1Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-07177Available from: 2019-05-06 Created: 2019-04-12 Last updated: 2019-10-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. How critical thinking, multicultural education and teacher qualification affect anti-immigrant attitudes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How critical thinking, multicultural education and teacher qualification affect anti-immigrant attitudes
2018 (English)In: International Studies in Sociology of Education, ISSN 0962-0214, E-ISSN 1747-5066, Vol. 27, no 1, p. 42-59Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous studies identify a relationship between education and anti-immigrant attitudes. There is, however, uncertainty regarding the underlying explanations linking education to attitudes. In this article, we examine whether a relationship exists between exposure to teaching about critical thinking as well as multiculturalism (measured as religions/cultures as well as xenophobia/racism), and anti-immigrant attitudes among adolescents. In addition, we examine whether teacher qualification matters for attitudes. The analysis is based on survey data collected from high school students in Sweden. The results show an association between exposure to teaching about critical thinking as well as multiculturalism (both indicators) and anti-immigrant attitudes among students, i.e. higher exposure is related to lower levels of anti-immigrant attitudes. However, we find that teaching about xenophobia/racism affects attitudes, but not when simultaneously controlling for teaching about critical thinking and religions/cultures. In terms of teacher qualification, we find that students in schools with a high proportion of certified teachers tend to have lower levels of anti-immigrant attitudes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon: Taylor & Francis, 2018
Keywords
anti-immigrant attitudes, education, critical thinking, multicultural education, teacher qualification, Sweden
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-145047 (URN)10.1080/09620214.2018.1425895 (DOI)000428517200004 ()
Available from: 2018-02-19 Created: 2018-02-19 Last updated: 2019-04-12Bibliographically approved
2. The secondary transfer effect: the effect of friendship amongst adolescents on prejudice towards specific outgroups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The secondary transfer effect: the effect of friendship amongst adolescents on prejudice towards specific outgroups
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Previous research show that contact between outgroups can reduce prejudice and lead to positive intergroup relations. In this article, I study the secondary transfer effects (STEs) of outgroup friendship. More specifically, I study if intergroup friendship between native Swedes and specific ethnic outgroups is associated with STEs towards other specific ethnic outgroups. STE builds on the primary transfer effects (PTE) and occurs when the positive attitudes of intergroup contact are generalized to groups not included in the primary contact. Analyses rely on Swedish self-reported survey data from 2,831 high school students, aged 16-18. Five OLS regression analyses are used and results show that positive attitudes from friendship between individuals are generalized not only to the primary outgroup but also to secondary outgroups. However, STEs tend to be group-dependent and thus limited. STE is found to be present mainly when friendships cross perceived social distance and socially constructed group boundaries. In conclusion, STE differs between different ethnic outgroups and perceived social distance can help explain why.

National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-158661 (URN)
Available from: 2019-05-06 Created: 2019-05-06 Last updated: 2019-05-06

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