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Education as Liberation? A Critical Analysis of the Relationship between Higher Education and Welfare Chauvinism across Europe

Eick, Gianna Maria (2020) Education as Liberation? A Critical Analysis of the Relationship between Higher Education and Welfare Chauvinism across Europe. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87009) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:87009)

Language: English

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In recent years, there have been growing concerns about public divisions regarding the exclusion of immigrants from welfare provisions, a perspective referred to in this thesis as welfare chauvinism. In academic and public narratives, welfare chauvinism is generally assumed to originate from the lower-educated individuals in society. In contrast, higher-educated individuals are assumed to hold more inclusive attitudes towards immigrants. This assumption is based on the education-as-liberation argument, which frames higher-educated individuals as economically and culturally less threatened by immigrants. This thesis aimed to pioneer research into critically examining the relationship between higher education and welfare chauvinism across countries, time and welfare programmes in Europe. This was done by analysing primary and secondary cross-national survey data that was gathered between 2008 and 2019 from 23 countries across Europe.

Contrary to current thinking, the results of this thesis demonstrated that welfare chauvinism is prevalent amongst both higher and lower-educated individuals across Europe. The results demonstrated that the cross-national and cross-programme variances were more relevant than the gaps between the higher and lower educated. It was further found that (changes in) the attitudes of the higher educated were the reason for seeing (a rise in) welfare chauvinism in certain countries. Furthermore, this research shows that the gap between the higher and the lower educated appears smaller when examining benefits compared to services. Overall, it was found that the higher educated were not immune to holding the perspective of welfare chauvinism. The results can be explained by higher-educated individuals tending to feel more economic anxiety and needing to adapt more to societal norms than their lower-educated counterparts. In particular, as economic affluence becomes less prevalent and authoritarian norms become more prevalent in European societies, the probability of the higher educated holding preferences for welfare chauvinism becomes relatively high.These results pose a puzzle for academic and public narratives that frame higher education as a tool for liberalisation. Particularly, this thesis unveils hidden nuances in the relationship between higher education and welfare chauvinism across different national economic and cultural contexts, demonstrating that not only less privileged groups in European societies are affected by economic crises and authoritarian tendencies of certain governments. Instead of relying on higher education to be a solution to the current societal divides in Europe, as framed by the education-as-liberation argument, social cohesion seems to be primarily the responsibility of national governments, which have the power to shape public attitudes towards immigrants in welfare states across Europe.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Chung, Heejung
Thesis advisor: Sundberg, Trude
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87009
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2021 08:23 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2021 14:39 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Eick, Gianna Maria.

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