The Culture of Academic Disciplines and the Sociopolitical Attitudes of Students: A Test of Selection and Socialization Effects


  • *Direct correspondence to Mark Elchardus, Vakgroep Sociologie, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium 〈〉. Professor Elchardus will supply all data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study. The authors thank the anonymous reviewers of Social Science Quarterly for their helpful comments.


Objective. Using cross-sectional and panel data, this article estimates to what extent the association between students' choice of academic discipline and their sociopolitical attitudes is due to socialization and selection effects.

Methods. This is done on the basis of seven incoming cohorts of students and one panel of students. Changes in the panel are controlled for contextual influences by comparing them to a control group.

Results. Both selection and socialization effects are observed. The first are, however, much stronger than the second.

Conclusions. Although the literature, and particularly the more popular literature, highlights socialization effects, these turn out to be very modest. Future research should address the questions of how and why students select academic disciplines in a way that establishes strong relations between those disciplines and their sociopolitical attitudes.