Political socialization is a learning process through which a person acquires political beliefs, values and opinions (Ellen 185). Individuals also learn attitudes and behaviors towards religion and culture through the same process. Political socialization is continuous and begins from early childhood and progresses as the individual matures. The process is crucial in inducting individuals into a particular political culture as well as in shaping the individuals orientation towards political objects. The process is also the means of transmitting political beliefs and values from one generation to the next (Edward 20). For example, Political socialization is necessary for transmitting support for gun rights or gun control from one generation to the next. The impact of political socialization on an individual’s beliefs and values are more effective when they are young compared to when they are older. Therefore, individuals tend to hold more onto the things they learned as children compared to the things they learned as adults which are known as the primacy tendency.
There are various factors that are agents of political socialization that includes family. Family is a great agent of political socialization especially because of the primacy tendency where the family interacts with their children before any other opinions are formed in them. The family contributes formally through what they tell them and also informally by what they do, and the children observe it and adopt it. Other agents are peer groups and friends who contribute to political socialization as individuals grow up. The beliefs and values are reinforced especially where they are similar to those of family members. Another agent is a school where individuals go through development aimed at political values, respect for authority, patriotism and democracy. Another agent is media which provides different political information on campaigns and events which influences the receiver’s political opinions (Hooghe 331). Religion also plays a role in influencing an individual’s political socialization process.
One of my current political beliefs is a democracy. I believe every citizen should be given the opportunity to elect their leaders. I gained this belief from both my family and also from school. I also hold the opinion that the right to religious freedom should be protected. I gained this opinion from my parents who firmly believe that every individual should be allowed to choose their religious convictions. One of the values I hold is that all races are equal and should be treated equally in all circumstances. Anti-racism was something my parents taught me from early childhood, and I could see them practicing it by having friends who were from different races. The value was reinforced through interactions with neighbors and friends.
Social agents who have played a role in my political socialization include news from the television and through various internet platforms. I have also gained much political information from talk shows that discuss and analyze political issues, especially current matters. The social media provided news updates on political campaigns during the last general elections that kept me informed about what was happening. The social agents have provided information that has contributed significantly to my political opinions. For example, Social media has informed me about some of the political issues in the Obama government and given me a clear understanding of the matters. Social agents were the means of informing me on what my favorite political candidates were up to which strengthened my opinion about my political beliefs.
Edward Greenberg. Political Socialization. New Jersey: Aldine Transaction Publishing Inc.. 2009. Print.
Hooghe, Marc. “Political Socialization and the Future of Politics.” Acta Politica 39 (2004): 331- 341. Web. 13 Jul. 2015.
Ellen Grigsby. Analyzing Politics. Massachusetts: Cengage Learning Publishing Inc. 2014. Print.