Gov: Political Socialization


Political Socialization
The opinions we have on political issues tend to be shaped by political beliefs and values. The formation of these beliefs and values begin early in life and continues through adulthood. This process is called political socialization. To socialize an individual means to teach that person to be a member of society. Political socialization involves learning the values, beliefs, and processes in order to participate in a society. The process of political socialization is important. No democracy could survive if its citizens did not share some fundamental beliefs. Political socialization involves all of the experiences that lead us to view issues the way we do. And those experiences are never the same from one person to the next. There are many agents, or forces that play a part in political socialization.

During the childhood phase of the political socialization process, family and schools are important sources of basic political attitudes, such as beliefs about the parties and the nature of the U.S. political and economic systems. Many of the basic orientations that Americans acquire during childhood remain with them in adulthood, but socialization is a continuing process. Adults’ opinions are affected mostly by prior beliefs, peers, political institutions and leaders, and the mass media. Events themselves are also a significant short-term influence on opinions. Public opinion can be defined as those opinions held by ordinary citizens that they openly express. Public officials have many ways of assessing public opinion.

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