Friday, July 11, 2008

The More Educated You Are, the Less Diverse Your Political Conversations

Bill Bishop takes up the question of political segregation in The Big Sort. He reports on the work of Penn political scientist Diana Mutz. She found that only a quarter of Americans say they regularly discuss politics with people who disagree with them. This is more than in some countries, such as Britain, but less than others, notably Israel.

Even more interesting, I think, is Mutz' finding that this average varies quite a bit depending on your social class. The least educated people have the most diverse group of political discussion mates, whereas people with graduate degrees are the least likely to talk politics with people who disagree with them.

I can testify to how easy it is for conversation among academics, the most educated group of people, to turn into a one-position echo chamber. Liberalism is taken to be an IQ test, and the rare conservative is encouraged to be quiet or go elsewhere. For political disagreement I go to the coffee house, which in our town draws a broader range of people than the faculty club contains.

5 comments:

shah said...

Thanks for the candor. My wife and I are conservative and enjoy yoga classes together. I still surprises me when our yoga-mates assume we are liberal. They can not even fathom a McCain victory.

Mupetblast said...

Let me guess. The coffee house is also full of liberals, though more radical than the faculty lounge, which makes for a broader perspective, technically. But you still won't find a fan of Russell Kirk or Vilfredo Pareto.

Gruntled said...

No, actually the coffee house has a pretty broad spectrum of views. My regular interlocutors are evangelical Christians, most Republican. This is one of the many good things about living in a small town.

David said...

Of **course** Israelis have more interaction with those with whom they disagree: in Israel, everybody disagrees with everybody!

brax4444 said...

I'll say hi to you next time I see you at The Hub.