Educational levels and political literacy: The case of adults enrolled in the INEA program in El Paso, Texas

Carolina Pallares, University of Texas at El Paso


The political socialization process is ever-present in our daily lives. Traditional academic philosophies contend that one needs a formal education to achieve a high state of political awareness. This study challenges that traditional belief by proving that adults with little or no formal education can demonstrate a high level of political awareness.^ The purpose of this study is to show that, absent a formal traditional education, individuals may be politically active and have an understanding of complex political issues. In order to test this hypothesis, I interviewed participants enrolled in the Instituto Nacional de Educación para los Adultos, (INEA) program. INEA is an adult education program that started in Mexico. The sample for this study consisted of sixteen of the one hundred and seventy-eight participants enrolled in the INEA program. The participants interviewed shared their life experiences. Although a few of them had some formal education, they had not completed education levels beyond the primary grades.^ My findings indicated that multiple factors created the participant’s political socialization. These factors included family, church, life experiences, exposure to political candidates, political participation, media, and engagement with INEA. In addition to the findings, this research indicated that the participants fit into three distinct categories of political awareness. I identified these categories as Profound, Limited, and Conformist. The majority of the participants interviewed have voted in elections in their native country of Mexico. This fact also challenged traditional ideas that, only the well-educated vote. Political awareness more closely related to early political socialization, experiences, and personal drive than a formal education was what this study found. ^

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Social Sciences|Political Science, General

Recommended Citation

Pallares, Carolina, "Educational levels and political literacy: The case of adults enrolled in the INEA program in El Paso, Texas" (2009). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1465267.