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Freedom of speech on US college campuses

Freedom of speech on US college campuses

Republicans are more likely to tolerate speakers with political views different from their own on US college campuses than Democrats and liberals, a new study finds. The results seem surprising since in previous studies on political tolerance Democrats had always turned out to be more tolerant. Sociologist Anna Boch conducted the study and interprets her findings in the BredowCast.
When it comes to allowing speakers with extreme political views to speak on US college campuses, self-proclaimed Democrats seem to be less open to opinions very different from their own. In that regard, Republicans are more tolerant. These findings are part of Anna Bochs dissertation project, in which she examines the attitude of US citizens towards free speech in academic contexts and its impact on social discourse.

To understand the results, Anna Boch points out, it is important to be aware of the role that a college campus plays in the student life in the USA. For many US students the campus is not only a place of learning and research but also their home. Most of them live in dorms right on campus. A speaker with extreme or controversial views speaking on campus has thus a different connotation in the US university context than at European universities which are perceived as part of public space and students do not identify as strongly with.

In conversation with Johanna Sebauer, Anna Boch outlines the reasons for this new “democratic intolerance” and also explains why women are seemingly less tolerant than men and younger people are less tolerant than older ones.

Anna Boch is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Stanford. From June to August 2019 Boch was a guest researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut.

Anna Boch and BredowCast host Johanna Sebauer


Anna Boch On the Study
Anna Bochs Paper „The Limits of Tolerance: Extreme Speakers on Campus“ erscheint Ende 2019 im Journal “Social Problems”

Mentioned Readings
„The Coddeling of the American Mind“ – Atlantic-Artikel von Greg Lukianoff und Jonathan Haidt

Johanna Sebauer


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