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What is Political Socialization?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
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When it comes to defining something like political socialization, complex explanations can be more effective than just a few words. Technically referred to as a culturalization of a political process, it is something that is really broadly defined. It has to do with how a civilian population interprets political symbols, initiatives, and ideas. This kind of idea can be very useful to historians, anthropologists, and anyone else with a defined interest in a particular human community.

In political socialization, political ideas get circulated in a general community. In this process, the formal elements of a political process are combined with social processes normal for adult individuals. The result is a collective interpretation of politicians, parties and political ideals.

At its core, political socialization is just a kind of group thinking. For a literary view of this process, albeit a negative one, read George Orwell’s book “1984,” where elements of a political socialization process are parodied as an intense example of the power of a successful socialization of politics. The book shows how this process can be effectively used to monitor a population, to enforce laws, and to promote specific kinds of behavior.

An example of this kind of idea in American culture is the idea of political correctness. Here, the mass media plays a crucial role, which is common in the socialization of politics. A common standard defines how people use and interpret language related to a person’s race, creed, or sexual orientation.

Political socialization can play a positive or negative role in a society depending on various factors, as well as one's point of view. From an objective standpoint, you could say that this idea plays a positive role when human rights are promoted, and a negative role when human rights and civil liberties are confined by the collective process. Public opinion, a product of political socialization, can be a kind of litmus test for a society, when outsiders want to understand the prevailing sentiment that has a profound impact on the way members of a society live their lives. A look at this process can also be useful when historians want to unravel the reasons for historic events, laws in a particular society, or group behaviors among a specific national or regional population.

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Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Feb 25, 2014

And aren't we all just tickled to pieces with political correctness? It totally goes against the grain of this nation's founding principals to actively work to suppress thoughts and ideas. Such blunt tactics would be called "fascism" if we were actually allowed to call it that (I don't think we are anymore).

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