PhD graduate Tony Zhang and Professor Brym publish on Tolerance of Homosexuality in 88 Countries

March 19, 2019 by Sherri Klassen

Ph.D. graduate Tony Huiquan Zhang and Professor Robert Brym have published an article in Sociological Forum. The article studies how tolerance of homosexuality is jointly shaped by individual educational attainment and political freedom. The main finding is that in free societies, education is a liberalizing force as scholars expected. However, in non-free societies, education does not bring tolerance.

Tony Huiquan Zhang obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto in March 2018. He currently works at St. Thomas More College and the University of Saskatchewan as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. His research concerns public opinion research, social movements, and Chinese politics.

We have published a link to the article here. The abstract is reprinted below.

Tony Huiquan Zhang and Robert Brym (2019) Tolerance of Homosexuality in 88 Countries: Education, Political Freedom, and Liberalism, Sociological Forum, 34(2).

Researchers have repeatedly found a positive correlation between education and tolerance. However, they may be victims of an unrepresentative sample containing only rich Western liberal democracies, where political agenda have a liberalizing effect on curricula. In this paper, we specify the relationship between education and liberal attitudes by analyzing data on educational attainment and tolerance of homosexuality (one dimension of liberalism) drawn from a heterogeneous sample of 88 countries over the period 1981–2014. We argue that nonliberal political agendas in some countries undermine the supposed universality of the positive relationship between educational attainment and tolerance of homosexuality. In relatively free countries, education is indeed associated with greater tolerance. However, in relatively unfree countries, education has no effect on tolerance and in some cases encourages intolerance. Specifically, our analysis demonstrates that education is associated with tolerance of homosexuality only when regimes energetically promote liberal‐democratic values. The larger theoretical point is that the agendas of political regimes shape civic values partly via education systems. Especially in an era when democracy is at risk in many countries, it is important to recognize that education is not always a benign force.