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Education as Tool of Social Equality?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Anja GiudiciORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Do political parties approach education with different social policy aims? We argue that while parties have adopted a common language of equality as an aim of education, they draw on different conceptions of it linked to diverging social projects. To make this argument, we first normatively distin- guish education as a tool for creating equal opportunity, equal outcomes, and representational diversity. We then draw on an original dataset coding the educational content in the political manifestos of the largest center-left and center-right party across 19 Western democracies from 1950 to present. The analysis shows that left parties emphasise more equality of outcome than rightwing parties and pay less attention to equality of opportunity, and that they associate equality-related aims more extensively with promises of resources. These findings suggest that there remain critical differences in parties' understanding of edu- cation as a tool of social policy.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gingrich J, Giudici A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Policy & Administration

Year: 2023

Volume: 57

Issue: 2

Pages: 172-188

Print publication date: 01/03/2023

Online publication date: 15/12/2022

Acceptance date: 21/11/2022

Date deposited: 15/12/2022

ISSN (print): 0144-5596

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9515

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/spol.12878


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Funder referenceFunder name
European Research Council (ERC) with a Starting Grant for the project The Transformation of Post-War Education: Causes and Effects (SCHOOLPOL) (grant number 759188)