Political Socialization

Agents of Socialization

Agents of socialization, sometimes referred to as institutions, work together to influence and shape people’s political and economic norms and values. Such institutions include, but are not limited to: families, media, peers, schools, religions, work and legal systems.

  1. Family: Families perpetuate values that support political authorities and can heavily contribute to children’s initial political ideological views, or party affiliations. Families have an effect on “political knowledge, identification, efficacy, and participation”, depending on variables such as “family demographics, life cycle, parenting style, parental level of political cynicism and frequency of political discussions.”

  2. Schools: Spending numerous years in school, children in the United States are taught and reinforced a view of the world that “privileges capitalism and ownership, competitive individualism, and democracy.” Through primary, secondary and high schools, students are taught key principles such as individual rights and property, personal responsibility and duty to their nation.
  3. Media: Mass media is not only a source of political information; it is an influence on political values and beliefs. Various media outlets, through news coverage and late-night programs, provide different partisan policy stances that are associated with political participation.
  4. Religion: Religions beliefs and practices play a role in political opinion formation and political participation. The theological and moral perspectives offered by religious institutions shape judgement regarding public policy, and ultimately, translates to direct “political decision making on governmental matters such as the redistribution of wealth, equality, tolerance for deviance and the limits on individual freedom, the severity of criminal punishment, policies relating to family structure, gender roles, and the value of human life.”
  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.
  6. The state: The state is a key source of information for media outlets, and has the ability to “inform, misinform, or disinform the press and thus the public”, a strategy which may be referred to as propaganda, in order to serve a political or economic agenda.