Parents or professors? An examination of the contingent influences on Evangelical college student political views.
This analysis examines the contingent influences of family religious identity and the college experience on student political views at Evangelical colleges and universities. While the college-effects literature confirms that student interaction with faculty, peers, and the institution challenges pre-existing perspectives, American Evangelicalism in part maintains its identity through an extensive education system. By applying Dodson’s (2014) contingency perspective on the effects of higher education to the relationship between faculty and family influences, I argue that Evangelical colleges both expand and constrain the plausibility structures of American Evangelicalism. Results from this thesis suggest that Christian higher education mitigates polarization and has a moderating effect on student political views, directly challenging the critique that they promote either liberal or conservative indoctrination. This study offers insight into the ways in which these institutions’ influence on student political views are contingent upon pre-college religious identity.