Reasons Why the Less Educated People Are Opposed to Trade Openness

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Introduction Part A

As a first years MISOC-student I experienced an interesting construction of what other students may know as ‘working groups’. Contrary to most universities, Erasmus University of Social Sciences and Behavior makes use of so called ‘Problem Based Learning’-sessions (PBL). As I previously went to university elsewhere, the PBL-sessions required some adaption from my side. What I like about PBL-sessions is the way the steps are set up. The steps such as brainstorming and analyzing are made in order to stimulate the minds of the students to activate our own knowledge prior to researching the final learning goals. Moreover, the PBL-sessions are designed in such a way that almost everyone is engaged in the discussion However, during the PBL-sessions this year I have hardly seen such discussion take place. Various students brainstorm on ideas but the main focus is kept in mind: to find the final learning goals. The discussion is clearly absent in the post-discussion phase.

During this academic year I have witnessed this in various courses such as Globalization I & II, Research Design, Economics and International Law. As we were required to read and analyze a lot of literature this year for the PBL-sessions, the post-session was more a sort of spot for everyone to rephrase what we all have read. For students who have not read the required material however, this may have been very useful. Which leads me to last critique, the engagement of the group. I really enjoy studying and preparing for the PBL-sessions, however the non-graded lack of participation of others in the sessions diminishes this joy sometimes. I do not enjoy carrying PBL-sessions with a few other students who prepared their sessions while others do not really engage with the group discussion. I think the lack of participation and real discussions somewhat form the main flaws of Problem Based Learning

Practical Review

Besides PBL-sessions, I also participated in the practicum sessions this academic year. The practical sessions all were based on the first and most important practical, 1. 1 Introduction to Academic Skills. This practical was of great importance as it laid out the ground rules for academic writing. It explained why a good logical structure is important for an academic text. The importance is found in the expectations readers have of your text when reading it. A logical structure answers the questions that come to rise to the reader such as: what is the topic of the text? What is the central question and what is the answer to this question? A good academic text answers all of these questions (Ackermann, De Boer, Van der Molen, Osseweijer, Polak, Schmidt & Van der Wal, 2018). These questions in turn help to form a structure or body of the academic text. A good structure consists of an introduction, a middle part and a discussion & conclusion (Van der Molen et al. , 2018). In addition to the body of a text, the paragraphs form an important element of the structure as they are the building blocks of the text. A paragraph usually starts with a sentence that links the previous paragraph with the current one. The second sentence contains the subject of the paragraph on which the mid-section will provide more information (Van der Molen et al. , 2018). Finally, the last sentence forms a conclusion of the paragraph or it may link the paragraph to the next one. The main content of the topic is thus defined in the second sentence and concluded in the last sentence.

The Power of a Good Title

However, the body of an academic text and the paragraphs only form a large pile of text without clear indicators of structure. Titles and headings help provide a structure in a text and are necessary in order to separate sections or paragraphs from each other (Van der Molen et al. , 2018). A good title needs to clearly represent the subject of the text as it reflects the structure of your text (Van der Molen et al. , 2018). Moreover, the title needs to catch the attention of the reader. In practical 1. 7 Argumentative Writing I learned the importance of using catchy attractive titles and headlines. The assignment was to write an argumentative text in which you try to convince the reader of your points. A catchy and representative title helps to catch the attention of the reader (Van der Molen et al. , 2018).

How to Avoid Plagiarism: Reference

We have seen that a good academic text is structured by posing a central question and answering this question throughout the text. This academic text in turn is structured by a clear introduction, body and discussion & conclusion of the text which are all clearly structured by the use of headlines and titles ( Van der Molen et al. , 2018). However, the content of the text is just as important as the structure and body. The content of an academic text often contains information derived from previous academic research. It is important for the writer to refer to the author of the academic text as failing to do so is seen as fraud and plagiarism. If one fails to mention the respective ‘owner of the information’ described in the text, then this information may be perceived by readers information of the writer himself. Referencing therefore is a very important aspect of an academic text and is done in the APA-style at Erasmus University. A correct reference is done by mentioning information derived from the author directly after the sentence. The latter is called an in-text reference. Referring to the author is done in the following way (Author, year). If multiple authors need to be referenced to then this will happen in the following way: (Author 1, Author 2 and Author 3, year).

According to Van der Molen et al, (2018), if one refers to multiple authors throughout the text then only the first reference needs to look like the one explained above, all other following references may look like this: (Author 1 et al. , year). If one takes a close look at the previous sentence you can see how referencing may be done in another way too, by mentioning the author directly. This way allows the writer to put the author in the text directly while referencing. Both ways are correct under the APA-style of referencing. Besides in-text referencing, one needs to refer to the author in the literature list at the end of the academic text as well (Van der Molen et al. , 2018).

This is done in the following way for an academic book: Author, A. A. , & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of the book. Place, Publisher (Van der Molen et al. , 2018). A good literature list contains all references listed in alphabetical order separated by indents. However, some items you find in a text may be too good for you to just ‘rephrase’. In that case one may use paraphrasing or quoting according to the APA guidelines (Van der Molen et al. , 2018). Quotation can happen with a citation between brackets such as: ‘text’ (Author, year, page number). It is very important that one copies the exact same text when quoting as this text is now seen as the exact words of the author you referenced to.


All of these items, the structure of the text, titles and referencing form an important foundation for my academic career. The skills I gained through this practicum helped me with all the other blocks and assignments in which clear structure and APA-referencing was not only expected but also mandatory. I believe it will benefit me even more in the future as the amount of writing assignments will increase and will be topped off by the final thesis in which all of the mentioned academic skills by Van der Molen et al, (2018) will be necessary to use.

Overview Part B


Recent headlines on free trade and open boarders sparked debates in the West. In this debate two sides are formed where some favor trade openness and others oppose it (De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015). A good example of this debate is seen in the introduction of the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA). Workers were seen as the main opponents of the NAFTA as they assumed trade openness would lead to a loss of jobs. Many similar cases in which the less educated are more opposed trade openness in comparison to their higher educated counterparts exist (De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015).

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Past reasons: Stolper-Samuelson Theory (S. S)

The trend of less educated people opposing economic openness caused researchers to look for the reasoning behind the cause. Previous studies used the Stolper-Samuelson theory, also referred to as the factor endowment model, to explain the cause of reasoning of the low-skilled (or low-educated). First of all, the education level is seen as an indicator of the job position of an individual in this theory. Therefore the terms lower-skilled and lower-educated are intertwined (De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015). This theory states that there are winners and losers of open trade. The highly skilled, higher educated are winners as they profit from open trade. Whereas the lower-skilled are the losers of open trade as open trade ‘invites’ more competition and puts the jobs of the lower-skilled at risk. This is why the lower-skilled are opposed open trade according to the Stolper-Samuelson theory. The theory refers to this phenomenon as the economic-insecurity explanation. If this theory is valid then the less-educated are strongly associated with their weak labor-market positions (De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015).

Critiques on S. S-theory

However, many have contested the Stolper-Samuelson theory. Previous research has shown that a weak labour-market position does not impact support for trade openness significantly and support is not lower for those who are active in the labor market opposed to those who are not active such as students. For this reason two alternative theories were developed.

Alternative reason 1: Derification Theory

The dereification theory includes the role of cultural capital and resistance to increased cultural diversity. It goes beyond the previous theories as this theory explains why the less-educated or lower-skilled group opposes cultural diversity caused by trade openness (De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015).

Firstly, the Stolper-Samuelson theory assumes that the economic-insecurity explanation holds. However, trade openness support cannot solely be explained by the labor-market position of an individual, but more so by cultural diversity that arises with open trade. Studies showed that the opposition to trade-openness resulted more from nationalistic and ethnocentric sentiments towards cultural diversity (De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015).

Secondly, these studies have also shown how an individuals’ education level impacts more than just their economic position. It also affects the individuals’ cultural capital. Cultural capital is the mannerisms a person has, the language we speak and our clothing. Cultural diversity as a result from trade-openness would ‘endanger’ this according to the lower-skilled. Moreover, cultural capital is an important factor as this defines someone’s social status. The social status can be linked to the class system in which higher class is associated with the elite and lower class would be the workers.

So, cultural capital further explains the economic position of an individual beyond the simple explanation given by the S. S theory. According to De Koster & Van der Waal (2015), individuals with a high level of cultural capital are less likely to oppose other cultures as they do not see other cultures as a problem or a threat to their own as they feel secure in their high position. In conclusion: the derefification theory states that the less-educated have more cultural conservatism.

Alternative reason 2: Knowledge-based theory

This theory emphasizes the importance of the economic gains of free trade. It acknowledges the education gap argued by the Stolper-Samuelson theory. However, it goes beyond the past theory as it further explains how the education gap is actually a knowledge gap. The main idea of this theory is:

  • Lack of political knowledge causes opposition to trade openness

This theory states that those with less political knowledge are less capable to form a well thought through vision or opinion on the issue. This means they are less able to transform their interests and attitudes into the fitting political party. To relate this back to the S. S theory, previous studies have shown how the less-educated are found to less political knowledge as well. It is important to note that studies found that the views of higher educated individuals on economics and trade openness are more in line with economists opposed to the lower educated individuals (De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015).


The research by De Koster & Van der Waal (2015) aims to find the answer to the question why lower-skilled individuals are more opposed trade-openness than higher-skilled individuals. In order to answer this question the following hypotheses were formed:

Research Hypotheses:

  • Hypothesis 1: Opposition to trade-openness is a redistribution issue (economic position)
  • Hypothesis 2: Opposition should be attributed to the weak labor-market position and job insecurity
  • Hypothesis 3: Opposition to trade-openness stems from a resistance of cultural diversity
  • Hypothesis 4:If hypothesis 3 holds, this opposition stems from lower levels of cultural capital.
  • Hypothesis 5: Trade-openness opposition stems from a lower level of political knowledge.

Data and methodology

  • Data: the data was derived from a qualitative study, an online survey in the Netherlands in 2012.
  • Population: a total of 1302 Dutch people aged 16 and older participated in the survey
  • Measurement: support for trade openness was measured by answering the question according to five answer categories varying from (1) Strongly in favor- to – (5)

Strongly oppose. All questions were set up in such a way to test each hypothesis.

Results and conclusion

The opposition of lower-skilled individuals against trade-openness can indeed be explained by the S. S theory, so their education level. But this explanation is not inclusive as it can be further explained by the tested hypotheses of the research of De Koster; Van der Waal (2015). The results show that the dereification theory explains a far greater part of the opposition than the economic-insecurity explanation. The survey results showed a high relevance of the dereification theory and empirically validates this research as the opposition of the less educated has shown to be a part of their main opposition to cultural diversity.

Their opinion on trade-openness thus is rooted in their lower levels of cultural capital rather than just their weak labor-market position(De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015). Furthermore, the lack of political knowledge had a strong correlation with the view of the lower-skilled towards trade-openness. Hypothesis one therefore is not seen as completely false but just as an incomplete explanation of the reasoning of the lower-skilled individuals and the other hypotheses have proven to be true to further explain the motivations of the lower-educated (De Koster & Van der Waal, 2015).

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