Gov: Socialization and Civic Participation Review


  • In a democracy public opinion serves as a guide to elected officials, a guard against costly mistakes, and a kind of glue that holds us together despite our differences.
  • While the mass media may help shape public opinion they are also shaped by it. Public opinion is the sum of a large number of individual opinions.
  • Our basic views about politics are formed early in life through political socialization. Agents of socialization include family, schools, religion, friends, and the news media.
  • Most Americans share a common set of beliefs and values about politics and government. This political culture helps unite Americans, even when they differ over ideology.
  • Civic participation is essential in a democracy. Citizens who get involved in civic and community groups help to strengthen civil society. At the same time they tend to become more engaged in the political process.
  • Citizens can engage in civic life in many ways. When they do so they help to build a stronger civil society.
  • The rights and responsibilities of Americans include obeying the law, paying taxes, and for males, registering for military service.
  • Americans today receive information from print, broadcast, and electronic media.
  • The news media serves as government watchdogs, agenda setters, and forums for an exchange of views.

Review Questions

  1. List the forces or agents that shape political socialization. Rank them in order from 1 (most influence on my political socialization) to 5 (least influence). For the top two items on your list, briefly explain why they have influenced your political socialization.
  1. Of the four categories of civic engagement, which best describes you or will best describe you once you can vote, and why?
  1. Explain why public opinion is important in a democracy?
  1. Create a symbol to represent each of these types of polls: benchmark polls, tracking polls, exit polls, and push polls. Then write one or two sentences explaining whether you think each type of poll should be used in political campaigns.
  1. Create a simple T-chart. In the first column, list at least three traditional media sources. In the second column, list at least five forms of “new” media. Check off all the forms of media that you have seen or used. Below your chart, identify at least two pros and one con of the new media.
  1. Describe the role of media in a democracy?
  1. Is media biased? Explain your answer.



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