Being capable, yet helpless, in an egalitarian society: Are more educated individuals always less likely to support political violence?



Political Violence, Radicalization, Attitudes, Education, ISCED


While some theoretical models of radicalization suggest that less educated individuals are drawn towards political violence due to grievances, others highlight circumstances in which more educated individuals may be more inclined to participate in violent collective actions. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis have not provided any firm conclusions regarding the role of education in determining radicalized attitudes and behaviors. The goal of this study was to provide a systematic overview of bivariate and interactive relationships between the level of education and support for political violence across countries. Therefore, multilevel regression analyses were applied to the World Value Survey  data (seventh wave). Next to testing the linear relationship, the focus of this study was to test the relationship between education and support for political violence in circumstances which, according to theories of radicalization revolving around grievance, should undermine the protective role of education. Therefore, the cross-level interaction between education, attribution of success (to hard work or luck and connections) and egalitarianism in a society (measured on the country-level) was also tested. Results of the conducted analyses suggest that education has a weak protective role against support for political violence, although this role depends on the context. More precisely, education loses its protective role only among individuals who attribute success dominantly to luck and connections instead of hard work (i.e., perceive hard work as not an ineffective way of achieving success) and live in egalitarian societies.


The work of Tomislav Pavlović was financed by the Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ; DOK-01-2018).


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