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Political socialization. - No 1.

The idiom - political socialization has been first used by the American scholar Herbert Hiram Human in 1959 in the book called “Political Socialization: a study in the psychology of political behaviour”. Edward S Greenberg (1970:3) defines a term political socialization as “the process by which individual acquire attitudes, beliefs, and value related to political system of which he is a member and to his own role as a citizen within that political system”. M. Rush in the book called “Politics and Sociology. An Introduction to Political Sociology” gives a more broad description and says that it is “a process by which individuals in a given society become acquainted with the political system and which to a certain degree determines their perceptions and their reactions to political phenomena” (Rush 1992:92). According to Greenstein (1968:551) political ideas begin to form in early childhood because the factors which influence us and build our point of view are around us. So the political socialization is a process of engagement and understanding politics which lasts throughout the whole life. People are influenced by a number of social institutes such as family, schools, Mass Media, religion, political parties and even a work place. But a lot has changed after this description has been brought in. The process of political socializationused to be seen as stable and affected mainly by the social institutes like family and friends. Media has also always had an important impact on our views and attitudes as “by imparting both approved and fugitive knowledge, media narratives shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us”.(Stephen L. Muzzatti 2007:extract)

However as there have been happening a lot of political and social changes at the end of the 20th century, the theory, definition and understanding of the political socialization have changed as well. For example, the role of age has decreased and the older persons, like teachers or parents, are often not respected and listened by the young persons. The same thing is happening in terms of relationship as its role decreases. Moreover, now the socialization can happed not just from the older to younger but from the younger to older as well. There’ve

been a number of examples of children transferring their political orientations to their parents. Thus Richard Merelman (1986:279-319) came up with an idea of "lateral" political socialization and said that “no attempt was made to discern other means” (http://www.nationalserviceresources.org/files/legacy/filemanager/download/457/diller.pdf) of this “egalitarian, transient, choice making and individualized” process. (Merelman 1986:309) Ph. Wasburn(1994:1-24) suggests that the different stages of the life cycle like childhood, juvenile age, middle age etc. interact and depend on each other as well as different agents of socialization like family, school, religion, Mass Media etc. So the individuals’ values and views will be changing throughout his

life and depend on his age, period in life, past experience in socialization and type of social class he belongs to. I consider that family, friends and political trends at our home land still have a very big

influence. The things happening at our home place leave a stamp on our views and reflect on our mind in future. For example, in 1992 Clinton, as part of his campaign, has done an advert with him talking about a little poor place called "Hope" where he was born and his stimulation to make

change when he meet the President Kennedy: "that's when I decided I could really do public service because I cared so much about people". (Brian McNair 2007:5) I would say that the reason why I decided to find out more about politics was quite similar. I grew up in a small Russian town, but

only 20 minutes away from the centre of Moscow. My parents got a brilliant education and because they have been working all the time we always had enough money for living; but outside our house, I always saw a very different and very scary picture. From the day I was born the only people I

knew were lawyers or economists, with a specific sense of humour and political knowledge. However, when I was going out of home I saw crying women, drinking men, screaming children, and lonely old people. They have different stories and reasons for that poor life but a number of them have

been fooled, left with no home, financially hindered etc because they have not been politically educated as it wasn’t really possible in the Soviet Union. I always want to do something to motivate and help them as they stuck themselves at the little towns and do not try to change things because they are scared to fail. To carry on with this example, in 1991(when the Soviet Union broke up) they have lost money, beliefs and stability. So it’s really easy to manipulate them by giving hope because they are not “acquainted with the political system” (Rush 1992:92) well enough. It’s the same in the other places. In the non-democratic developing countries like China, for example, people may not see any reason to

participate in politics, because they don’t believe that their lonely voice can make any change. Although we often look for strong and dominant leaders, all is based on collaboration. “As one - those five letters

symbolize the culmination of individual action into collective power" – written in the book "As one" by Mehrdad Baghai & James Quigley (2011:2). So, "every human being has some experience of politics as the maker of decisions or as the subject of decisions"( B.Jones et al., 2007:12) but if people do collaborate, organize pressure groups and trade unions they can express their opinion, learn and “acquaint with the political system” (Rush 1992:92) more. Nevertheless the political socialization is seen as a positive process there are some negative aspects. For example, the ideas expressed in media are often false and may disorientate people. So, on the one hand everyone is politically socialized and has to be politicallyeducated but on the other hand, we may misunderstand some issues influenced

by our religious beliefs or by the family or friends. It may cause an organization of a terrorist attack or some protests which both will be also a result of a political socialization. Therefore I think that a politically socialized person must have some basic common political knowledge and understanding but on theory the political socialization is a process where everyone participates anyway as we all are subjects of political decisions. Furthermore, we all are influenced by the various factors (like family,

media, friends, etc) but I also agree with Ph. Wasburn on the fact that the life has changed in the 20th century, so the social institutions, the world, place and a life period have a strong impact on our beliefs

integrated with the other elements of the political socialization.


Word Count: 1135



1. Axford, B., Browning, G. K., Huggins, R.,

Rosamond, B. and Turner, J. (1997) "Politics: An Introduction" (Routledge)

2. "Globalization" Published in 2006 by Keith Suter. B.Jones, D.Kavanagh, M.Moran,

3. P.Norton "Politics UK" 6th edition; by "Pearson education" 2007

4. Dennis Sewell (2009) "The Political Gene"; chapters 8 and 10; published by 'Picador'

5. Mehrdad Baghai & James Quigley (2011)"As one". Published by 'Portfolio Penguin'

6. Jack Williams (2004)"Entertaining the nation. A social history of British television" chapters 1 and 4. 'Sutton Publishing'

7. Alexander Moseley (2007) "An Introduction to Political Philosophy"

8. (Continuum) Iain Mackenzie (2009) "Politics. Key concepts in Philosophy"

9. (Continuum) Drew Westen (2007) "The Political Brain: the role of emotion in deciding the fate of the nation" (PublicAffairs,New York)

10. Brian McNair (2007) "An Introduction to Political Communication" 4th ed. (Routledge)

11. Hyman H. H. (1959) “Political Socialization: a study in the psychology of political behaviour. (Glencoe, The Free Press)

12. Fred I. Greenstein (1968) “Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues”

13. Greenberg, Edward S. (1970) “Political Socialization” (New York: Atherton Press)

14. Rush M. (1992) “Politics and Sociology. An Introduction to Political Sociology”, (Hemel Hempstead, Harvester Wheatsheaf)

15. Merelman R. M. (1986) “Revitalizing Political Socialization” (Hermann M. San-Francisco) pp.279-319 National Resource Centre (2007) http://www.nationalserviceresources.org/files/legacy/filemanager/download/4



16. Wasburn, Ph.(1994) “A life Course Model of Political Socialization.”(Politics and Individual) Vol. 4.,¹2, pp.1-26.

17. Stephen L. Muzzatti (2007)“Mass media and socialization” (Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology) eISBN:9781405124331


Date: 2016-03-03; view: 1556

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