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Higher education and the evolution of prejudice
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5525-468x
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Högre utbildning och hur fördomar utvecklas (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Background: This dissertation looks at the effect of higher education on prejudice, in particular anti-immigrant sentiment. In studies of prejudice, higher education is constantly shown to correlate to lower levels of prejudice, the so-called “liberalizing effect of education,” yet we do not fully understand to what extent education matters for these attitudes. By using longitudinal data, this dissertation looks at the effect of education on out-group attitudes from different angles. It seeks to investigate whether attaining more education results in lower levels of prejudice; whether this educational effect is universal; to what extent levels of prejudice differ among academic majors, as well as theorizing about the possible mechanisms responsible for this robust relationship.

Methods: This dissertation relies on both longitudinal data and cross-sectional data and a mixture of multilevel, cross-classified, and OLS linear regression models. Data come from the Norwegian Citizen Panel (NCP) and Statistics Norway, the New Immigrant Survey Netherlands (NIS2NL), the General Social Survey (GSS), and the Chilean Longitudinal Social Survey (ELSOC).

Results: The four studies give insight into how and why education matters for ethnic out-group attitudes, by emphasizing different aspects of education. The main contributions from this dissertation are the following: education has the potential to reduce prejudice, albeit in cultural terms; education has an “inoculation effect” in situations that give rise to insecurity and uncertainty; the liberalizing effect of education is manifested toward ethnic minorities but not toward the ethnic majority; the content of education matters for attitudes, that is, higher education does not have a monolithic effect on attitudes; and education yields effects that are separate and/or different from other socio-economic indicators.

Conclusion: This dissertation makes empirical and theoretical contributions to the study of prejudice by finding longitudinal evidence of an inverse relationship of education and anti-immigrant sentiment over time, in both Western and non-Western contexts. In addition, it provides a foundation for future research on the possible theoretical mechanisms responsible for this relationship.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2023. , p. 69
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 89
Keywords [en]
Prejudice, immigrants, education, attitudes, liberalizing effect, longitudinal, racism
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-202472ISBN: 978-91-7855-934-3 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7855-935-0 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-202472DiVA, id: diva2:1725335
Public defence
2023-02-10, Hörsal UB.A.220 - Lindellhallen 2, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Part of project
Examining the liberalizing effect of higher education: A longitudinal cohort study of a university student population, Swedish Research CouncilThe Evolution of Prejudice, Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2019-02996Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-07177Available from: 2023-01-20 Created: 2023-01-10 Last updated: 2023-02-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Does higher education have liberalizing or inoculating effects?: A panel study of anti-immigrant sentiment before, during, and after the European migration crisis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Does higher education have liberalizing or inoculating effects?: A panel study of anti-immigrant sentiment before, during, and after the European migration crisis
2022 (English)In: European Sociological Review, ISSN 0266-7215, E-ISSN 1468-2672, Vol. 38, no 4, p. 605-628Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous research has consistently shown a negative correlation between education and anti-immigrant sentiment. This association is most pronounced when distinguishing between adults with higher education and those without a tertiary degree. Yet it remains unclear whether educational attainment actually matters for attitudes, mainly due to a lack of longitudinal studies. This article investigates the so-called liberalizing effect of education on adults' attitudes towards immigrants by taking into account individual, regional, and period effects. Using 12 waves of the Norwegian Citizen Panel (2013-2020) combined with contextual data from Statistics Norway, we assess the effects of: 1) educational attainment at the individual level; 2) the expansion of higher education at the regional level; and 3) higher education during a time of social upheaval. Results from multilevel cross-classified, repeated measurement models show that within-individual and within-county changes in educational attainment have a small but liberalizing effect on attitudes. Further, individuals with at least 3-4 years of university education do not react as strongly to the highly salient European migration crisis than those with lower levels of education. This finding suggests that higher education inhibits perceptions of threat that may manifest during "big events" such as a dramatic increase in asylum seeking. We interpret these novel results as evidence of an inoculating effect, in that higher education protects individuals against whatever instinct exists to react strongly during such crises. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2022
Keywords
education, immigrants, prejudice, longitudinal, migration crisis
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-190047 (URN)10.1093/esr/jcab062 (DOI)000756805000001 ()2-s2.0-85135689873 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2019-02996Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-07177Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, 2014.0019
Note

Errata: Paolo Velásquez, Maureen A Eger, Correction to: Does Higher Education Have Liberalizing or Inoculating Effects? A Panel Study of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment before, during, and after the European Migration Crisis, European Sociological Review, Volume 38, Issue 4, August 2022, Page 677, https://doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcac011

Available from: 2021-12-02 Created: 2021-12-02 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved
2. Education and inter-ethnic attitudes among recent immigrants in the Netherlands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Education and inter-ethnic attitudes among recent immigrants in the Netherlands
2023 (English)In: Journal of International Migration and Integration, ISSN 1488-3473, E-ISSN 1874-6365Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent research shows that better educated and structurally integrated immigrants do not articulate more positive attitudes toward the ethnic majority than immigrants who have lower levels of educational attainment, described as evidence of an “integration paradox.” While these findings have important implications for theories of immigrant integration, they stand in contrast with theories of intergroup relations, e.g., intergrou pcontact theory. Importantly, these findings also challenge the strong theoretical expectation that higher levels of education generate more positive intergroup attitudes, that is, the universality of the educational effect. Using four waves from ‘New Immigrants Survey Netherlands’ (NIS2NL) survey, I investigate attitudinal differences toward both the ethnic majority and other ethnic minorities in the Netherlands for four recent immigrant groups by focusing on the highest level of education from their country of origin. First, I analyze whether the relationship between education andoutgroup attitudes differs toward the ethnic majority and toward ethnic minorities.Second, I look at how attitudes toward outgroups change over time. Findings indicate that immigrants with higher levels of educational attainment hold more positive attitudes toward other ethnic minority groups, and these attitudes are stable over time. Attitudes toward the ethnic majority, however, are initially very positive but become lessso over time, regardless of level of education. The findings shed new light on the universality of the educational effect on interethnic attitudes by showing that higher levels of education among immigrants have a potential “liberalizing” effect only toward minority groups, but not toward the ethnic majority.

National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-202468 (URN)10.1007/s12134-023-01061-5 (DOI)001007621700001 ()2-s2.0-85161350011 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-07177Swedish Research Council, 2019-02996
Available from: 2023-01-10 Created: 2023-01-10 Last updated: 2023-11-06Bibliographically approved
3. Unpacking the liberalizing potential of higher education: an analysis of academic majors, anti-Black prejudice, and opposition to immigration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Unpacking the liberalizing potential of higher education: an analysis of academic majors, anti-Black prejudice, and opposition to immigration
2024 (English)In: Ethnic and Racial Studies, ISSN 0141-9870, E-ISSN 1466-4356Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

In this article, we challenge the prevailing assumption about the impact of higher education on attitudes toward racial and ethnic minorities by examining whether educational effects are monolithic or manifold instead. Using data from the General Social Survey (1972-2021), we use a variety of measures of education (years, levels, sectors, and majors) to unpack the relationship between higher education and intergroup attitudes, specifically anti-immigration attitudes among native-born Americans and anti-Black attitudes among non-African Americans. Results show that some higher education graduates hold out-group attitudes that are not much different from those without any higher education. Narrowing our focus to respondents only with higher education, we find significant variation in out-group attitudes across educational sectors and academic majors. These results have implications for how we understand previous scholarship on prejudice and higher education, which may have overestimated the impact higher education has, in general, on prejudice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2024
Keywords
higher education, immigration, liberalizing effect, out-group attitudes, prejudice, racism
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-202469 (URN)10.1080/01419870.2023.2295479 (DOI)2-s2.0-85181727384 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2019-02996Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-07177
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form with title: "The Liberalizing Potential of Higher Education: An Analysis of Academic Majors and Prejudice". 

Available from: 2023-01-10 Created: 2023-01-10 Last updated: 2024-01-25
4. Economy or Culture? A study of the role of education on attitudes toward immigrants in Chile
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Economy or Culture? A study of the role of education on attitudes toward immigrants in Chile
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-202470 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2019-02996Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-07177
Available from: 2023-01-10 Created: 2023-01-10 Last updated: 2023-11-06

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