POLITICAL SOCIALIZATION — MEANING, CHARACTERISTICS, TYPES AND AGENTS

Political socialization is the process through which political culture is transferred from one generation to another.

It is the process through which individuals learn about politics and other social contexts.

Political socialization may also be defined as the process whereby individuals acquire information about their political symbols, political values, institutions, rules and procedures.

According to J.M Magstadt, "Political socialisation is the process where the citizens develop the values, attitudes, beliefs and opinions that enable them to support the political system"

Individuals develop political orientation and behaviour through political socialization, which enables them to function successfully in a social-political culture.

Characteristics Of Political Socialization

1. Political socialization is the process of acquiring political culture

2.  It entails the transmission of political beliefs and values from one generation to the another

3. Political socialization is a lifelong process that begins at birth and continues until death.

4. Political socialization is both a source of political change and a source of political stability.

5. Political socialization is part of the larger socialization.

6. Political socialization equips people with the knowledge and motivation to participate in politics.

7. It can increase public support for the current political system.

8. Everybody is subject to political socialization so long they belong to a family and society.

Types Of Political Socialization

Political socialization can be classified into two types: direct and indirect political socialization

1. Direct or manifest political socialization: This is a process whereby information, values, or feelings that are transmitted have political content.

Manifest political socialization involves individual learning explicitly the structures and function of government as well as the ideology of the political parties.

2. Indirect or latent political socialization: This involves many of the most fundamental characteristics of the general culture, which have a significant impact on the political domain.

The latent political socialization process starts with non-political orientation and ends with political orientation.

They are the broad societal conditions and attitudes that contribute to political action or inaction

Latent political socialization involves acquiring skills and techniques in non-political activities that may eventually lead to political skills when an individual becomes an adult.

For example, participation in college and university politics helps to prepare students for future political roles.

Agents of Political Socialization

Agents of political socialization refer to institutions that work together to influence and mould people's perceptions of the political system.

They are mostly people or groups of people that influence the political opinion of citizens of a country. 

People learn the skill that enables them to support the political system and culture by interacting with different agents of political socialization.

Agents of political socialization can be divided into primary and secondary agents of political socialization

Primary agents of political socialization are people or groups of people that directly develop specific political orientations into members of society.

People cannot avoid interacting with primary agents of socialization in uring childhood.

Examples are family, peer group and schools.

On the other hand, secondary agents of political socialization are people or groups of people that indirectly and impersonally develop certain political orientations onto members of society.

Examples are mass media, political institutions and religious organizations.

The following are agents of political socialization

1. Family: People get their first political knowledge in the family.

Family is the first and primary agent of political socialization for individuals.

In the early years of a child's life, the family plays a significant role in transferring political culture.

Children are first politically socialized in their families, where they learn the political values that are important to them

Children are taught values such as respect for national symbols and loyalty to constituted authority in the family.

Family provides children with basic political orientations and knowledge as children first learn about politics object from their parents.

For example, parent affiliation with a political party is usually reinforced in the political socialization of their children.

Children can develop a perception of good and bad political parties based on their patent affiliation with a political party.

2. The school: Most kids spend more than a quarter of their waking hours at school.

School represent a conventional and deliberate effort by society to politically socialize its young ones.

School performs the function of political socialization through the contents of courses in schools and colleges.

Political socialization is achieved through the curriculum, involvement in school activities, competitiveness, and obedience to the school rules and regulations.

Some governments, for example, strive to foster loyalty by incorporating subjects like government, civic education and history n high school curricula.

Schools also try to improve pupils' political awareness by keeping them informed about current political events.

It has been proved that the more educated a person is, the more politically aware he is and the more likely he is to participate in politics.

Aside from teaching children political values, Schools also contribute to social-political cohesion by teaching societal values and beliefs to the young ones

3. Mass media: As the internet has become more widely used, the mass media has become increasingly important in politically socializing all members of society

Mass media (such as television, radio, newspapers and magazines) informed the public about the current political event in the country.

The public can quickly obtain information and news about political events that affect them thanks to the mass media

Mass media offer a visual and audio representation of government activities.

The government also uses publicly-owned media to keep citizens up to date on current events.

Plus, the government can use the mass media to shape people's opinions and perceptions.

They can also use the media to enlist the public's support for approaching elections.

Lastly, the media acts as a watchdog to the government because it may be used to criticize the government when necessary

More so, the opposition party can use the mass media to quickly call the attention of the electorate to the shortcoming of the ruling government.

4. Peer groups: These are just as important as a family because people tend to seek external relationships outside of the family.

Peer groups play an important role in shaping the political perception of individuals since children spend more time with their friends as they grow up.

Peers groups are people of roughly the same age who share similar interests.

Individuals consider the views of their peers before engaging in some political activities (for example, voting).

They'd like to know if their colleagues approve (or disapprove) of their choice of candidate.

Peer groups also provide members with explanations and interpretations of political content.

On the street, for example, we see people of roughly the same ages arguing about government policies and interchanging information.

Peer groups are such an important agent of political socialization because individuals take the political views of the peer group to which they belong very seriously.

"The more politically conscious a person's friends, associates, and fellow group members are, the more likely he is to be too politically conscious active," Lane writes.

5. Religious organization: Religious organizations have long been a powerful force in political socialization.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, religious institutions affect our political perceptions.

For example, some citizens' dislike for corruption stems from the religious belief that stealing is a sin.

Citizens' opposition to certain legislation, most times, stems from religious beliefs.

Furthermore, as most religious leaders' teachings show, religious institutions can be used to foster national unity.

6. Political institutions: Political institutions include political groups, pressure groups and interest groups, all of which can serve as an agent of political socialization  

The rallies and demonstrations organized by these groups educate the public about political issues as well as the objectives and ideologies of political parties.

Furthermore, political institutions can employ other media, such as television and social media, to improve public awareness of government activities.

Read also: 7 AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION

Final words

To repeat, political socialization is the process through which political culture is transmitted.

There are two major types of political socialization: Direct and indirect political socialization.

Agents of political socialization are those institutions that can shape and mould individual perceptions of the political system.

Agents of political socialization are divided into primary and secondary agents of socialization

Primary agents of political socialization include family, peer groups and educational institutions that directly develop specific political values into members of the society

Secondary agents of political socialization include mass media, political institutions and religious institutions that indirectly develop specific political values into members of the society.

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