Enlightenment or Ideological Domination? The Contingent Effects of Education on Attitude toward Immigrants


Student thesis: Master's Thesis

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  • Tianzhu NIE


Awarding Institution
Award date12 Jan 2017


What is the role of formal education in shaping people’s attitudes toward immigrants? The developmental thesis suggests that increased education would enlighten people to be more tolerant, whereas the socialization theory implies that there would be no or even a negative relationship between education and pro-immigrant sentiment. However, none of them goes hand in glove with the previous empirical results. To reconcile, we suggest that the effect of education is contingent. The educational effect could resemble the prediction of either of the two theories, contingent on whether the pedagogy is authoritative. If the pedagogical method features indoctrination, the mechanism of ideological domination, as implied by the socialization theory, would operate and the educational influence would thus depend upon the specific values being transmitted. On the other hand, in the scenario where autonomous learning is encouraged, the enlightenment effect will be at play, but the direction of such a liberating effect would be contingent on the previous ideological bias. Using data from the ooster sample of the Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics, we show the contingent effects in the context of Hong Kong, where the secondary schools are ideologically dominant, whereas the universities are consistent with what is depicted in the developmental model. First, the dogmatic pedagogy and the poverty of civic education in Hong Kong secondary schools lead to a tendency that the higher the education Hong Kong-educated are, the less likely they are to welcome immigrants from Mainland China, while the opposite is true for those natives educated on the Mainland, which is attributed to the intensive and effective patriotic education in the Mainland educational system. Second, the enlightenment effect of university education marks a turning point for both trends. We consider and subsequently refute confounding explanations. The theoretical implications will also be discussed.