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Justice in Achievement Matters: The Fairness of Educational Opportunities and Active Citizenship

A new article by Prof. Pepka Boyadzhieva, Assoc. Prof. Petya Ilieva-Trichkova and Assoc. Dr. Valeri Todorov (IPHS-BAN)


Unlike existing research which has focused mainly on the effects of educational attainment and curricula on active citizenship, the present article aims to study the relationship of subjective assessment regarding the fairness of people’s educational opportunities and their active social engagement, and how this relationship is embedded in different social environments. Theoretically, the analysis is based on the view of active citizenship as a multidimensional and domain-specific phenomenon. It is also inspired by the capability approach’s understanding of the opportunity aspect of freedom and the importance of fairness of opportunities and processes. Empirically, our study uses a multilevel linear regression model to analyse data from the European Social Survey 2018 for 29 countries. We develop a scale of active citizenship with four domains: political, social, workplace, and democratic values. Our findings show that a higher perceived unfairness of educational opportunities is associated with lower levels of active citizenship. They also reveal that although there is a negative relationship between the perceived unfairness of people’s opportunities to receive a desired level of education and their active citizenship, it is mitigated when people are living in high-trust societies and in countries which are more economically and democratically developed.