Six factors of political socialization


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In authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, the government often takes active measures to inculcate loyalty, especially in younger people. Similar programs existed in the former Soviet Union. In The Republic bce , Plato writes about the creation of a good aristocratic regime. But most of the book describes the educational system and discusses what will be taught to the young. In fact, Plato even claims that, in order for the good republic to succeed, the city founders must expel everyone over the age of ten because their attitudes have already been shaped and cannot be changed.

Political Culture and Public Opinion. Overview What Is Political Culture? How to Cite This SparkNote. Summary Political Socialization. For this reason, family tends to be the most important source of political socialization. Families mostly impart political culture unintentionally by acting as examples for the children. Very often, people end up with political beliefs similar to those of their parents. School: Most children learn about their country at school, usually through a curriculum known as civic education.

This curriculum trains young people to be good citizens, often via history, government, and social studies. Although these lessons are usually basic, many of the key ideas and values of a society are imparted through school. Minority status: Members of a minority group sometimes feel like outsiders, and this feeling of isolation and alienation affects their attitudes toward society and government. This is particularly true when the minority group is treated either better or worse than others in society. Media: The power of media is increasing with the spread of hour cable news networks, talk radio, the Internet, and the seeming omnipresence of personal audio and video devices, so the influence of the media on political socialization is no longer confined to the young.

The Role of Government The government plays a role in political socialization in a variety of ways. Plato and Socialization In The Republic bce , Plato writes about the creation of a good aristocratic regime. Previous section What Is Political Culture? Next section Social Capital. As in the case of families, the influence of peer groups is mitigated by the fact that politics is not a high priority for most of them. The capacity of mass media to socialize people to politics has grown massively as the number of media outlets has increased and as new technologies allow for more interactive media experiences.

Since the advent of television, mass media have become prominent socialization agents. Studies indicate that the typical American aged two to eighteen spends almost forty hours a week consuming mass media, which is roughly the equivalent of holding a full-time job. In one-third of homes, the television is on all day. They spend much of their time watching television, using a computer or cell phone, playing video games, or listening to music alone.

Personal contact with family members, teachers, and friends has declined. More than 60 percent of people under the age of twenty have televisions in their bedrooms, which are multimedia sanctuaries Kaiser Family Foundation, The use of more personalized forms of media, such as text messaging and participation in social networking sites, has expanded exponentially in recent years. Young people using these forms of media have greater control over their own political socialization: they can choose to follow politics through a Facebook group that consists largely of close friends and associates with similar viewpoints, or they may decide to avoid political material altogether.

Young people, even those who have not reached voting age, can become involved in election campaigns by using social media to contribute their own commentary and videos online. Media are rich sources of information about government, politics, and current affairs. People learn about politics through news presented on television, in newspapers and magazines, on radio programs, on Internet websites, and through social media. The press provides insights into the workings of government by showcasing political leaders in action, such as gavel-to-gavel coverage of Congress on C-SPAN.

Entertainment media, including television comedies and dramas, music, film, and video games also contain much political content. Television programs such as The West Wing and Law and Order offer viewers accounts of how government functions that, although fictionalized, can appear realistic. Media also establish linkages between leaders, institutions, and citizens. In contrast to typing and mailing a letter, it is easier than ever for people to contact leaders directly using e-mail and Facebook.

Some factors work against the media as agents of political socialization. Media are first and foremost profit-driven entities that are not mandated to be civic educators; they balance their public service imperative against the desire to make money. Moreover, unlike teachers, journalists do not have formal training in how to educate citizens about government and politics; as a result, the news often can be more sensational than informative.


  • Political socialization.
  • What Is Political Socialization?.
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Political learning and socialization experiences can differ vastly for people depending on the groups with which they associate, such as those based on gender and racial and ethnic background. Certain groups are socialized to a more active role in politics, while others are marginalized. Wealthier people may have more resources for participating in politics, such as money and connections, than poorer people.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is one of an increasing number of women who has achieved a highly visible political leadership role. There are significant differences in the way that males and females are socialized to politics. Historically, men have occupied a more central position in American political culture than women. This tradition was institutionalized at the time of the founding, when women did not receive the right to vote in the Constitution.

Political Socialization

While strides have been made over the past century to achieve political equality between the sexes, differences in sex-role socialization still exist. Traits associated with political leadership, such as being powerful and showing authority, are more often associated with males than females. Girls have fewer opportunities to observe women taking political action, especially as few females hold the highly visible positions, such as member of Congress and cabinet secretary, that are covered by mass media.

This is starting to change as women such as Madeleine Albright and now Hillary Clinton attract media attention in their roles as secretary of state or as Nancy Pelosi did as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Political socialization: lesson overview (article) | Khan Academy

Despite these developments, women are still are socialized to supporting political roles, such as volunteering in political campaigns, rather than leading roles, such as holding higher-level elected office. The result is that fewer women than men seek careers in public office beyond the local level Sapiro, A political generation is a group of individuals, similar in age, who share a general set of political socialization experiences leading to the development of shared political orientations that distinguish them from other age groups in society.

People of a similar age tend to be exposed to shared historical, social, and political stimuli. A shared generational outlook develops when an age group experiences a decisive political event in its impressionable years —the period from late adolescence to early adulthood when people approach or attain voting age—and begins to think more seriously about politics. At the same time, younger people have less clearly defined political beliefs, which makes them more likely to be influenced by key societal events Carpini, The idea of American political generations dates back to the founding fathers.

Thomas Jefferson believed that new generations would emerge in response to changing social and political conditions and that this would, in turn, influence public policy. The silent generation, born between and , experienced World War II and the s during their impressionable years. Like their predecessors, they believe that government can get things done, but they are less trusting of leaders. The largest of the generations, this cohort protested against the government establishment in its youth and still distrusts government.

Generation Xers, born between and , came of age during a period without a major war or economic hardship.

The seminal events they relate to are the explosion of the Challenger spacecraft and the Iran-Contra hearings. This generation is more multicultural and has more tolerance for racial and ethnic difference than older cohorts. Sociologists William Strauss and Neil Howe have identified an emerging cohort born after , which they label the homeland generation. Conflicts between generations have existed for centuries.

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Thomas Jefferson observed significant differences in the political worldviews of younger and older people in the early days of the republic. Younger government leaders were more willing to adapt to changing conditions and to experiment with new ideas than older officials Elazar, Today generation Xers and the millennials have been portrayed as self-interested and lacking social responsibility by their elders from the baby boom generation.

Generational conflicts of different periods have been depicted in landmark films including the s-era Rebel without a Cause and the s-era Easy Rider. Political socialization is the process by which people learn about their government and acquire the beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors associated with good citizenship. The political socialization process in the United States stresses the teaching of democratic and capitalist values.

Agents, including parents, teachers, friends, coworkers, church associates, club members, sports teams, mass media, and popular culture, pass on political orientations. Political socialization differs over the life course. Young children develop a basic sense of identification with a country. College students can form opinions based on their experiences working for a cause.

Older people can become active because they see a need to influence public policy that will affect their lives. There are subgroup differences in political socialization.

Political Socialization

Certain groups, such citizens with higher levels of education and income, are socialized to take an active part in politics, while others are marginalized. Political generations consist of individuals similar in age who develop a unique worldview as a result of living through particular political experiences. These key events include war and economic depression.

Essay about Political Socialization

Almond, G. Coleman, eds. Alwin, D.