Where tolerance is defined as a person's willingness to put up with political expression that the person finds objectionable, we see three prerequisites for tolerance. The person must support the general right of political expression, the general right of people to engage in the particular acts under consideration, and finally the right of members of even objectionable groups to engage in those specific acts. Many past studies of tolerance proceed directly from the first of these prerequisites to the third, and, in doing so, fail to distinguish between general attitudes regarding particular acts of expression (i.e., does the survey respondent support the right of people in general to hold public rallies) and attitudes regarding particular groups engaged in those same acts (i.e., does the respondent support the right of Communists or militia groups to hold public rallies). The consequence is ambiguity in interpretation of the meaning and etiology of tolerance, and in cross-national comparison. We demonstrate our concerns using data from a split-ballot survey conducted in Romania. Results reveal that accurate interpretation of Romanians' tolerance of the right of ethnic Hungarians to engage in various acts of political expression requires attention to respondents' general attitudes regarding those same acts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science