Education-based group identity and consciousness in the authoritarian-libertarian value conflict


Rune Stubager, Department of Political Science, University of Aarhus, Universitetsparken, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. Tel.: +45 89 42 13 08; Fax: +45 86 13 98 39.


The increasing importance of New Politics or authoritarian-libertarian values to electoral behaviour in advanced Western industrial democracies and the previously documented strong link between such values and educational attainment indicates that, contrary to the claims of some New Politics theorists, the ideological conflict is anchored in the social structure – in particular in educational groups. For this interpretation to be warranted, however, it should be possible to document the existence of education-based group identity and group consciousness related to the value conflict. The article develops indicators of the core variables out of Social Identity Theory. Based on a unique survey from Denmark, which includes the new set of indicators, the analyses show that members of the high and low education groups have developed both group identity and consciousness reflecting a conflict between the groups and that these factors are related to authoritarian-libertarian values. The results are interpreted as reflecting a relationship of dominance, which supports the view that the ideological conflict is structurally anchored.