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Crafting tolerance: the role of political institutions in a comparative perspective

  • Antje Kirchner (a1), Markus Freitag (a2) and Carolin Rapp (a2)

Ongoing changes in social structures, orientation, and value systems confront us with the growing necessity to address and understand transforming patterns of tolerance as well as specific aspects, such as social tolerance. Based on hierarchical analyses of the latest World Values Survey (2005–08) and national statistics for 28 countries, we assess both individual and contextual aspects that influence an individual's perception of different social groupings. Using a social tolerance index that captures personal attitudes toward these groupings, we present an institutional theory of social tolerance. Our results show that specific institutional qualities, which reduce status anxiety, such as inclusiveness, universality, and fairness, prevail over traditional socio-economic, societal, cultural, and democratic explanations.

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