Comparing Minority and Human Rights Discourse in Social Science Textbooks: Cross-National Patterns, 1970-2008

Patricia Bromley

Abstract


Over the twentieth century the celebration of both human rights and the rights of minorities have become central features of an emerging world culture. Although related in some respects, ideas of human and minority rights differ in their fundamental conception of society as made of either heterogeneous social
groups or universally equivalent individuals. I posit that the contradiction between universality and diversity in world culture leads to divergent patterns of diffusion into nation-states and provide evidence of this trend. The data consist of 523 high school social science textbooks from 74 countries published
between 1970 and 2008 coded for content relevant to human and minority rights. Using multilevel modeling, I find that increases in minority rights discussions occur mainly in stable democracies, in contrast to a worldwide rise in discussions of human rights. These findings contribute to studies of globalization, education, and minority and human rights by documenting the spread of global models of citizenship into national education systems and identifying limits to the diffusion of global principles.

Keywords


human rights, diversity, globalization, citizenship, curricula

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