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Harvard Students in the Midst of Crisis: A Note on the Sources of Leftism

Marshall W. Meyer
Sociology of Education
Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring, 1973), pp. 203-218
DOI: 10.2307/2112097
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112097
Page Count: 16
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Harvard Students in the Midst of Crisis: A Note on the Sources of Leftism
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Abstract

Further analysis of data from a survey of Harvard students in May, 1969, shows that students who were most concerned about the Vietnam War as evidenced by participation in anti-war demonstrations held attitudes quite different from others. Their political beliefs were further to the left but less like their parents' than were those of students who had not been in demonstrations. Even when position on the left-right continuum was controlled, students who had been in demonstrations were more likely to approve of the seizure of University Hall than others, and they were more likely to move toward sympathy with the militants if they did not approve of their actions initially. Participants in anti-war protests uniformly placed themselves to the left of the political spectrum, approved of student unrest, and strongly opposed the war. These data and others suggest that the anti-war movement as much as the Vietnam War itself accounts for the beliefs which in turn affected students' response to the events that took place at Harvard in 1969. And they underscore the importance of beliefs or belief systems as causal factors in such episodes.

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