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Title: Exploring the relationship between education economy and individual civic attitudes : a cross-national analysis in England, Spain, Sweden, Poland and Chinese Taipei
Author: Liu, Liyuan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7959 7451
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis analyses the impact of the national economy on four European countries - England, Spain, Sweden and Poland - and one East Asian country - Chinese Taipei - and introduces the association between the economy and political trust and support for democracy. Since education has been long discussed as a mechanism for the creation of economic competitiveness, the restoration of trust and the promotion of a more democratic and trustworthy society, the thesis sheds light on whether there is a relationship between education and civic attitudes. In this work, I demonstrate changes in the real economy across participating countries by constructing a composite index of the economic crisis, using OECD data and Chinese Taipei national statistics. I report the associations between the economy and individuals' civic attitudes by using trend data analyses on the basis of the World Values Survey (WVS) and European Social Survey (ESS) datasets. I explore the relationship between educational attainment and civic attitudes via a two-step model (multiple regression modelling) by using the WVS database. Moreover, to expand education's meaning, I employ Lave and Wenger's Communities of Practice (CoP) theory and examine its impact on young adolescents' learning of civic attitudes by multilevel modelling based on the IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) 2009. The findings of the research show that the impact of the crisis is uneven among participating countries. Moreover, the empirical results suggest that individuals' political trust is highly responsive to the economy; although the evidence about democracy is not clear-cut, I find that citizens' support for democracy is not entirely immune to the economy. Drawing upon the WVS data, I find that individuals' educational attainment has helped to weaken the negative impact of the recession on participants' civic attitudes, based on aggregated data. Yet, the evidence in light of separate countries demonstrates that the association between individuals' educational attainment and political trust seems largely dependent on the years of democracy in a society. Although the impact of formal education on democracy is always positive and significant, our empirical evidence points out that the relationship between education and democracy has actually been reduced in the most crisis-ridden country, Spain, during the recession. The multilevel analysis (MLA) results, based on the IEA ICCS 2009, predict that all CoP-associated variables positively and significantly affect students' civic attitudes with a few exceptions. 'Peer discussion' negatively affects students' political trust and support for democracy. Young people's experience of engaging in outside-school activities is not always positively associated with their civic attitudes. In the educational arena, studies of CoP theory have mainly focused on its influences on certain types of young people's citizenship competence, such as democratic values and political participation. Research that focuses on how the CoP theory affects students' civic and political attitudes is underexplored. Our MLA results confirm that political trust can be learnt through participation in CoP, such as democratic values and so on. In addition, I find that young people's support for democracy and trust in national institutions were school-related variables, as a large amount of variance was explained at school level for these two factors with regard to MLA results. In addition, I find that after adding school-level variables, that is, a school's social economic status (SES) and its open climate, the results of political trust become less homogenous across countries, while democracy remains stable. Following this logic, I also examine the impact of school and indicate that attending different schools actually affects young people's political trust. This project selected five countries for the analyses, because these countries loosely represent different welfare regimes and different fortunes in terms of the economic performance during the economic recession. Substantial cross-country differences appeared in terms of the associations between educational attainment and citizens' political trust, being largely reliant on the history of democracy: in a consolidated democracy such as Sweden and England, education brings political trust when the economy encounters economic recession. In countries in transformation, such as Poland and Chinese Taipei, education always positively affects support for democracy, but is negatively associated with political trust. Moreover, in countries with a free market regime, such as England, people are more likely to be affected by fluctuations than in countries with a universalist regime, such as Sweden. This is potentially because the relatively high levels of social benefits in Sweden tend to protect unemployed people better than those people in England. In countries with a traditional regime, such as Spain, the family pays the price of the crisis and resists market economy turbulence. Since the industries in Spain that were hit hardest by the current crisis are male-dominated, the empirical results show that Spain has been severely affected by the recession both in terms of the national economy and people's civic attitudes. In contrast, in East Asian countries - Chinese Taipei, the state plays an important role in supporting the national economy, as well as sustaining social cohesion. This helps me to understand that good economic performance is closely linked to high levels of political trust. Special and durable regional traditions also affect the way that young adolescents learn active citizenship. Referring to the multilevel analyses, social learning is more powerful than the traditional approach in countries marked as having liberalism, individualism and egalitarianism (England and Sweden). In contract, the traditional style of teaching is more effective in enhancing active citizenship in countries with a uniform curriculum and a marked sensitivity for social hierarchies (Spain, Poland and Chinese Taipei).
Supervisor: Hoskins, Bryony Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available