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Skilled Voices?: Reflections on Political Participation and Education in Austria

Listed author(s):
  • Florian Walter

    (University of Economics and Business, Vienna)

  • Sieglinde Rosenberger

    (University of Economics and Business, Vienna)

Registered author(s):

    This study, part of OECD/CERI's project on Measuring the Social Outcomes of Learning, investigates the relationship between educational attainment and political participation in Austria. First, a model based on various theoretical considerations is introduced. This incorporates direct educational effects as well as indirect effects that occur through material resources, social capital, civic orientations and values. Using a multivariate analytical approach the model is applied to the 2002 European Social Survey. Three forms of political participation are distinguished, namely voting, elite-directed and elite-challenging activities. Educational attainment is found to have significant effects on all three types but the strongest impact is on elite-challenging activities. The latter includes forms of political action such as signing petitions and buying or boycotting certain products which are increasingly accepted as a legitimate way to express one's political preferences. Most of the effects of education arise through intermediate variables, including social capital (especially affiliation with non-political organisations), civic orientations (political interest as well as internal and external efficacy) and individual (postmaterialist) values. The effect of education on elite-directed activity operated primarily through organisational affiliation, as well as internal and external efficacy. In contrast, the effect of education on elite-challenging activity seems to be fostered via social environments that combine high levels of political interest, interpersonal trust, postmaterialist values and a certain degree of scepticism against political institutions. The paper concludes with suggestions for policy and research. Ce rapport, publié dans le cadre du projet « Mesurer les retombées sociales de l'éducation », étudie la relation entre niveau d'instruction et participation politique en Autriche. Dans un premier temps, il présente un modèle basé sur diverses considérations théoriques. Cela comprend à la fois les effets éducatifs directs et indirects qui se produisent en fonction des ressources matérielles, du capital social, des orientations civiques et des valeurs. A partir d'une approche analytique à plusieurs variables, le modèle est appliqué à l'Enquête Sociale Européenne de 2002. On distingue trois formes de participation politique, à savoir le vote, les activités conduites par l'élite et celles contestant l'élite. On s'aperçoit que le niveau d'instruction a des effets significatifs sur ces trois formes de participation, et plus particulièrement sur les activités contestant l'élite. Ces dernières incluent des actions politiques telles que la signature de pétitions, l'achat ou le boycott de certains produits, actions qui sont de plus en plus considérées comme une façon légitime d'exprimer ses préférences politiques. La plupart des effets de l'éducation se produisent au moyen de variables intermédiaires, notamment le capital social (et plus particulièrement l'affiliation à des organisations apolitiques), les orientations civiques (l'intérêt politique tout comme l'efficacité interne ou externe) et les valeurs (post-matérialistes) individuelles. L'éducation exerce un impact sur les activités conduites par l'élite principalement via l'affiliation à des organisations, et via l'efficacité interne et externe. Quant aux effets de l'éducation sur les activités contestant l'élite, ils s'exercent par le biais de l'environnement social qui inclut à la foi un niveau élevé d'intérêt politique, la confiance interpersonnelle, des valeurs post-matérialistes et un certain degré de scepticisme vis-à-vis des institutions politiques. En conclusion, ce rapport fait des recommandations en matière de politique et de recherche.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Education Working Papers with number 11.

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    Date of creation: 23 Nov 2007
    Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:11-en
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