Education and Support for Democracy in Poland: Attitudinal, Structural, and Cognitive Mechanisms
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Gradueate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences
Publication date: 2018-04-03
Polish Sociological Review 2018;201(1):3–25
While it is well-known that education is positively connected to support democracy (competitive elections, a multi-party system, and the belief that political leaders must obey the law) in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, we have few empirical tests of how attitudinal, structural, and cognitive mechanisms mediate that connection. I use the Polish Panel Survey (POLPAN) for 2008–2013, a crucial period that captures the Polish political experience after acceding to the European Union and before the massive political change of the 2015 elections, to empirically test how these different mechanisms impact the link between education and democratic values. I find empirical support for the hypotheses that (a) in terms of attitudes, higher levels of education are associated with lower authoritarian attitudes, which in turn correlate with stronger pro-democratic values; (b) in terms of structure, individuals with higher levels of education, who are more likely to belong to privileged social classes, are more pro-democratic; (c) in terms of cognitive mechanisms, higher educational attainment is associated with higher cognitive abilities, which in turn correlate with stronger support for democracy.
I would like to thank the members of the CONSIRT Program, and especially Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow, Kazimierz M. Słomczyński and Irina Tomescu-Dubrow for their advice and support in the preparation of this article. I am grateful to Małgorzata Mikucka for assistance with the methodology. I thank two anonymous reviewers for their time and valuable comments.