Education and Social Cohesion: Re-Centring the Debate
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Education is a powerful generator of social capital. According to recent research on the USA, Italy and the UK (e.g. Emler and Frazer 1999; Hall 1999; Nie et al. 1996; Putman 1995b, 2000), more educated individuals tend to join more voluntary associations, show greater interest in politics and take part in more political activities. They are also more likely to express trust in others (social trust) and in institutions (institutional trust), and are more inclined to ‘civic co-operation’ — or at least to profess that they do not condone ‘uncivil’ behaviour. Education is clearly not the only factor that predisposes people towards joining, engaging and trusting, but it is a powerful predictor, at the individual level, even when controlling for other variables such as wealth, income, age and gender. To Robert Putnam (1995a, p. 667), current doyen of social capital theorists, ‘Human and social capital are clearly related, for education has a very powerful effect on trust and associational membership, as well as many other forms of social and political participation’.
KeywordsSocial Capital Income Inequality Social Cohesion General Trust Educational Inequality
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