Acta Politica

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 123–143 | Cite as

An asymmetric group relation? An investigation into public perceptions of education-based groups and the support for populism

  • Bram Spruyt
Original Article


This article attempts to advance the recent discussion in this journal about the alleged growth of a ‘diploma democracy’ by introducing insights from theory of group relations, as well as presenting new empirical data. At the theoretical level, we argue that the relationship between the higher and lower educated should be seen as an asymmetric group relation. Such a relationship is unlikely to result in open educational conflict, without implying the complete absence of frustrations and tensions between groups defined on the obtained educational level. At the empirical level, we report on the results of a survey project in Flanders, allowing us to investigate to what extent the public opinion perceives educational conflict and demonstrate that this perception is consistently related to support for a core element of contemporary populism.


education group relations populism 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bram Spruyt
    • 1
  1. 1.Sociology, Research Group TOR, Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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