Political socialization takes place in every society but is done in a variety ways; from the so-called subtle way democratic societies provide information to the public to the highly monitored ways that a communist society provides information to its people. Political socialization is the process by which people are taught, exposed or conditioned to what the norms and values of their society are and what it takes to be a productive member of it. The most prominent agents of political socialization are, family, school, work, and the media.
Family plays a very important role in politically socializing you, especially in learning how to conduct your social behavior on a day-to-day basis. From the time you are an infant your family is politically socializing you. One of the first steps of this is, potty training. When you are being potty trained you are taught that you can no longer use the washroom any where you want to, as you do when your wearing diapers. You are taught that the washroom is the socially acceptable place to conduct these activities. Family also provides you with practical lessons of fundamental principles that are practiced in societies outside of your own. For example washing your hands before you eat is a simple task and is done in most societies. Imagine if your family had not taught you to practice this and you were to go out to dinner with business associates and your hands were covered in mud. You would be considered an outcast and any dealings you had with them may be cut off. Your family also helps you understand the theoretical concepts that are important when learning how to communicate with people. My mother would often say to me “Treat others, as you would like to be treated”. This gave taught me that if I treated people with respect that I would also receive it. Politics were rarely discussed in my family, but I was raised in a liberal fashion. I was allowed to make many of my own decisions and if there was a difference of opinion between my mother and I a compromise was usually made.
School is your first step into the political world. It is the first place where you are part of a social group. You are introduced to competition, cooperation, compromise, and democracy. Within all schools there are diverse social groups with different values and beliefs, this diversity can be compared to that of political parties. Each group hangs out in different sections of the school and only interact with each other in the classroom (similar to the House of Commons) this is one of the few settings where each group learns about each others differences and similarities on first hand basis. Moreover competition is at the forefront of every school. As soon as you enter kindergarten you realize everyone is competing for the title of being the best, whether it is being the smartest in the class or the best athlete. Cooperation was introduced with having to work on assignments with other students regardless off whether you liked or disliked them, through this compromise was reached by having to accept what fellow classmates wanted along with what you wanted. Democracy in school was a regular occurrence in school whether it was voting for class president or school president both of these votes entitles you to have a say in who would be representing you and your opinions. The funny thing about school is that you learn the concept of “majority rules” before you‘ve even heard of democracy.
The media plays a very important role in the political socialization of members of our society. The reason for this is that being part of a developed society we are exposed to the messages of the media on a daily basis whether it is from television, radio, or the newspaper. Television is the most influential of the three simply because it is the easiest avenue to transmit political ideas to people. For one a large amount of people owns a television, which makes it easy to have ideas transmitted on a large scale.
Secondly, television caters to everyone regardless of age, race, or gender. Television has an influence on people’s socialization since they start to watch as a child. It is not rare for a parent to ask their child “Where did you learn from?” and the response is very commonly “From T.V.”. Children are not the only ones affected by television, teenagers and adults both have their opinions influenced by TV especially by the news where many issues are portrayed with a biased view. An example of this is after September 11,2001 any Muslim person who was an introvert was portrayed to be a possible terrorist. Television did have an influence on my political socialization and still does. The means I take to avoid acquiring biased opinions is by viewing with a critical eye.
No one factor can determine a person’s political socialization because socialization depends on a number of factors and is an on going process through out a person’s life.