Political socialization

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Political socialization is the “study of the developmental processes by which people of all ages and adolescents acquire political cognition, attitudes, and behaviors”.[1] It refers to a learning process by which norms and behavior acceptable to a well running political system are transmitted from one generation to another. It is through the performance of this function that individuals are inducted into the political culture and their orientations towards political objects are formed.[2]

Agents of socialization[edit]

These agents of socialization influence to different degrees an individual's political opinions: family, media, peers, education, religion, faith, race, gender, age and geography. These factors and many others that people are introduced to as they grow up will affect their political views throughout the rest of their lives. Political beliefs are often formed during childhood, as parents pass down their ideologies to their children and so on.


The agents a child surrounds him/herself with during childhood are fundamental to the child's development of future voting behaviors. Some of these agents include:

  1. Family: Glass (1986) recognizes family as a primary influence in the development of a child’s political orientation, mainly due to constant relationship between parents and child.[3]
  2. Schools: Most influential of all agents, after the family, due to the child's extended exposure to a variety of political beliefs, such as friends and teachers, both respected sources of information for students.
  3. Mass media: Becker (1975) argue that the media functions as a medium of political information to adolescents and young children.[4]
  4. Religion: Religious tradition can have a strong effect on someone's political views. For example, Protestants tend to be more conservative (in countries where Protestants are not great majority).[citation needed]
  5. Political parties: Scholars such as Campbell (1960) note that political parties have very little direct influence on a child due to a contrast of social factors such as age, context, power, etc.[5]
  6. Work place

Agents of political socialization:

  1. Family – Most important shaper of basic attitudes; teaches basic political values & loyalty to particular political party through family members
  2. Schools – Teach patriotism and American mythology; early grades build on and reinforce positive learning
  3. Peers – Limited in effect because of self-selection; peer group in youth affects mostly “lifestyle issues”
  4. Mass media – Effect difficult to measure but substantial; promotes cynicism about government; agenda setting – telling us what to think about; framing – tells us what to think about what is presented; promotes awareness about government
  5. Political leaders and institutions
  6. Churches and religion – Religious right and religious left

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Powell, L., & Cowart, J. (2003). Political campaign communication: inside and out. Allyn and Bacon.
  2. ^ Varkey, K. (2003). Political Theory A Philosophycal Perspective. Indian Publishers Distributors.
  3. ^ J. Glass, V. B. (1986). Attitude similarity in three generational families: Socialization, status inheritance, or reciprocal influence? American Sociological Review , 685-698.
  4. ^ L.B. Becker, M. M. (1975). Family traditions. In S. C. (ed), Political Communication: Issues and strategies for research (pp. 126–139). New York: Praeger.
  5. ^ Campbell, C. M. (1960). The American Voter. New York: John Wiley.