Political socialization begins early on in life and is an ongoing process affecting individuals throughout. It is how people eventually identify personal beliefs and expectations in American politics. These political views can include our level of patriotism, faith in the democratic system, standards by which we hold governing bodies, and opinions regarding public policies. From the playground to the classroom, the office to the dinner table, much of our lives affect our political opinions. The most easily identified agents of this are family, schooling, peers, mass media, political parties and religious influences. Furthermore, these means indoctrinate us in the political society through four basic methods: latent, manifest, affective, and instrumental socialization.
The family influences children at a young age when parent’s political viewpoints are unconditionally and naturally accepted. This information guides our first political preferences and opinions and statistically is the majority of the ideals we retain. Later on in life, as children mature and are able to make their own rational decisions, most retain the political values instilled in them at a young age and over time may relate them to peers. Varying agents of socialization, like education and media influence our political opinions as adults. While some of the tactics used by these modes are obvious, others are less direct. Supplementary information can be gained from methods appealing to long-
instilled morals and values, stemming from religion. Less basic political socialization is gained from clear and rational thought indicated by political doctrines.
Affective socialization appeals one’s feelings and emotional expressions. Peer relationships and religion play an important role in this. To avoid separation from the group, individuals place in high esteem opinions held by those they respect in an attempt to gain approval. As one matures, ...
Patterson, Thomas E. We the People. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2000.
August, Melissa. “Numbers.” Time 16 Oct. 2000 43.