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Factors Influencing Sectarian Conflict and Peace through Education in Lebanon: An Ethnographic Analysis of Equal Access, Social Inclusion, and Social Contract

Hogsett, Miranda (2020) Factors Influencing Sectarian Conflict and Peace through Education in Lebanon: An Ethnographic Analysis of Equal Access, Social Inclusion, and Social Contract. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This is an ethnographic study with the purpose of spotlighting factors related to K-12 education in Lebanon that tend to reduce or exacerbate sources of sectarian conflict. The following research questions guided my research: (1) How do education stakeholders operationalize equal access, social inclusion, and social contract through education? (2) What features in K-12 education contexts exacerbate sectarian conflict in Lebanon? (3) What features in K-12 education contexts contribute to conflict-reduction in Lebanon? Data sources include interviews with education stakeholders and school visits I conducted throughout Lebanon, curriculum documents and documents outlining education purposes and policies in Lebanon that I analyzed.

I present a model for examining factors that precipitate and exacerbate sectarian conflict in Lebanon that contributes to theory-building related to equal access, social inclusion, and social contract. Findings pointed to the following seven factors to intensify sectarian conflict: related to unequal access to education were (1) the sectarian structure of the school system and (2) the inadequate access to free and compulsory education in the country; related to social exclusion in education were (3) policies that prohibit dialogue about religion and politics in school that are nonetheless relevant to students’ everyday lives and (4) minimum power-sharing and multi-stakeholder engagement in education decision-making; factors that exacerbate conflict by weakening social contract in Lebanon included (5) the misuse of political power among elites to benefit themselves and members of their affiliated sect, (6) a contradiction between curriculum content and reality, and (7) a lack of autonomy for students and teachers. All of the seven major structures, trends, and inadequacies in education that I found to exacerbate sectarian conflict originate from the national level and stem from Lebanon’s modern interpretation of its consociational system of government.

On the other hand, seven out of eight major factors that I found contribute to reducing sectarian conflict through education originate from the school and classroom levels, primarily from teachers and principals of varying religious sects. This highlights how model educators and school administrators already play a critical role in contributing to conflict-reduction through education in Lebanon. The eight factors that contribute to conflict reduction were the following: related to equal access are (1) the government’s stated commitment to free compulsory education and (2) a rise in nonsectarian private school options; related to social inclusion were (3) linguistic inclusion and (4) the prevalence of teaching approaches centered on common threads that bind students across sectarian differences; related to social contract included (5) teacher protections, (6) opportunities among educators and students in some schools to exercise choice and influence, (7) opportunities for reconciliation in some after-school NGO-facilitated programs, and (8) capacity-building. The study concludes with pragmatic recommendations for practitioners (government, Ministry of Education, school directors, and teachers) in Lebanon to address factors that contribute to sectarian conflict and to enhance those factors that make a difference in reducing conflict.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hogsett, Mirandamlh126@pitt.edumlh1260000-0001-6250-1669
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPorter,
Committee MemberFinkel, Mü
Committee MemberGarman,
Committee MemberMcClure,
Date: 2 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 April 2020
Approval Date: 2 September 2020
Submission Date: 3 August 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 207
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: international education; narrative inquiry; ethnic conflict; civil war; consociationalism
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2020 15:09
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2020 15:09


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