Young People’s Attitudes toward Equal Rights for Ethnic/Racial Minorities and Immigrants: The Effect of Contact and Supportive School Environments in the European Union

Abstract:

We take advantage of data from the 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) (IEA, 2009; Schultz, et. al, 2009) to investigate the attitudes that young people from different socio-economic backgrounds in 22 countries from the European Union (EU) have toward equal rights for all ethnic/racial minorities and immigrants. We then use the contact hypothesis (Allport, 1954) to explore whether contact is associated with more supportive attitudes toward equal rights, and examine openness to classroom discussion and supportive student-teacher relationships as characteristics that may be necessary for contact to promote tolerance and inclusive attitudes toward others in school settings. We find that in most EU countries, students from advantaged SES backgrounds exhibit more supportive attitudes toward equal rights for ethnic/racial minorities and immigrants than students from low SES backgrounds. We also find that contact does not have an effect on students’ attitudes toward equal rights at a regional level, but country-level results are mixed and varied. Consistently across all EU countries, openness to classroom discussion and student-teacher relationship have a positive and statistically significant relationship with students' attitudes toward equal rights for ethnic/racial minorities and immigrants.  We discuss implications for educators and policy-makers, limitations and future research.

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Last updated on 01/15/2018