On Status Quo Bias in Civic Education
41 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 26 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2010
Should civic education in a democracy cultivate children’s beliefs in the substantive merits of existing laws and political institutions? Such status quo educational bias can be a barrier to political progress, which depends upon each generation’s identifying the errors of its ancestors, as well as a threat to the state’s legitimacy, which depends upon the autonomous consent of citizens. Against these objections, I aim to show how and when adults’ fallible beliefs about the substantive merits of existing political arrangements constitute compelling reasons for status quo educational bias. And I argue that the values of stability, compliance, and patriotism underpin important content-independent reasons for status quo bias, i.e., reasons that appeal not to the substantive merits of existing institutions but merely to the fact that those institutions are the status quo. I conclude that the best civic education will typically include significant elements of status quo bias.
Keywords: CIvic Education, Citizenship, Status Quo Bias, Conservatism, Compliance, Patriotism, Stability
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