Sociopolitical Socialization: An overview of the influence of the school and the family on ones sociopolitical socialization
PAUL ANDREW BOURNE, M.Sc. (pending); B.Sc.; Dip. Edu.
The University of the West Indies
Kingston 7, St. Andrew
Jamaica, West Indies
Culture has three major tenets, and these are: ‘technological’, ‘sociological’ and ‘ideological’ (Bourne, 2006; Thomlinson, 1965)
Political Sciences cannot be viewed in a vacuum disconnected from the other sub-disciplines of the social sciences, as it is continuously interfacing with issues in sociology, psychology and demography, to name a few, in order to ground various theorizing. The issue of socialization is crucial to political scientists as well as to other social scientists. Nevertheless, the branch of study in the social sciences that looks comprehensively at socialization is sociology. As such, in order that a comprehensive evaluation of this topic be forwarded to readers, the writer will critically examine how sociologists view the issue of socialization after which he will provide answers so that the readers can grasp to what extent we are effectively politically socialized by the family and the school, and whether or not our experiences can be considered as typical.
Gosling, Hill, Fee and Taylor argue sociology from the perspective of the ‘materialists’ and ‘idealists’ theorizing, and within their monograph clear depict the functioning of society through those concepts.
They show how ‘materialists’ explain their theorizing that economic and social realities of peoples’ existence shape their experiences. Whereas, the ‘idealists’ theorize that people interpret the social actions through values, morals, sentiments and so on, ‘as the essence of social life’ (Gosling, Hill, Fee and Taylor, 2003, 21). Therefore the principle of socialization of human is simply not economic or is based on value-laden judgements but is multispatial.
Socialization is the process by which individuals learn the culture of their society (Haralambos and Holborn, 2002). They reiterated that it is through socialization that an individual bears resemblances to another human being, and as such he/she is defined as normal based on the standards of his/her society. It is society that defines norms, values, morals, culture and mode of interpretation of events to which an individual normally subscribes in order to be socially accepted by his/her peers. In the text Sociological Concepts and Research, the author concurs with Haralambos and Holborn that the issue of ‘socialization’ is the designer of the individual into a social being “through learning to think and behave according to the values and norms prevalent in his society” (Thomlinson, 1965, p.10). The process is accomplished by consensus based on Durkheim theorizing of social order (Durkheim, 1950; Inkeles, 1964) Furthermore, norms, values, perceptions and roles that people formulate are significantly defined by society through various agents namely the family, peer groups, the church (that is, religious institutions) and educational institutions. G. H. Mead (in Thomplinson, 1965, p.10) postulates that human beings are the product of their societies and not the creator thereof; they have the innate capacity and endowed with personalities by their social institutions. Therefore, society and not the individual on society do socialization. From the perspective of Herbert Spencer (in Inkeles, 1964), the development of the family stands first in socialization. He cited that:
He also stressed the obligation of sociology to deal with the interrelations between the different elements of society, to give an account of how the parts influence the whole and are in turn reacted upon, and in the process may transform or be transformed (Inkeles, 1964, p. 5)
Inkeles’ perspective, which he argued from analyzing the position of Herbert Spencer, showed the interdependence of the society on the individual and on other institutions in order to effectively carry out their holistic function. The individual influences society’s actions and society in return impacts on the likely happenings of the individual, thereby establishing an association instead of a causal relationship between the two categorizations.
It should be understood that socialization is not only confined to childhood (Haralambos and Holborn, 2002), as event is a lifelong process and so the individual does not cease learning norms, myths, perceptions, customs and other forms of the culture because (s) he has fully grown from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. According to Gosling, Hill, Fee and Taylor (2003) society is not merely an ‘aggregation’ of individuals’ actions and so sociologists challenge the general perspective that ‘social behaviour’ is reducible to individuals but argue that this is possible for groups.
They argued that:
As social life evolves, develops and become more complex, certain forms of conduct and belief – moral codes or religious practices for example – become reproduced by successive generations of people as accepted or proper ways of doing things. In sociological terms, they become ‘institutionalized’. Language is a good example of a social institution. We all learn it and use it, but none of us created it. (Gosling, Hill, Fee, & Taylor, 2003, p.8)
Gosling, Hill, Fee and Taylor provided that conduit of an explanation for culture through socialization. The poignant issue for many non-academics is how ‘language’ becomes a medium of socialization to which we all must subscribe, and that people are only agents of the general whole who must adhere to the units of the society.
Unlike other species whose behaviour is biologically set, human beings rely on social experiences to learn the nuances of their culture in order to survive (Macionis and Plummer, 1998). “Social experience is also the foundation of personality, a person’s fairly consistent patterns of thinking, feeling and acting” they said (Macionis and Plummer, 1998). In cases where there is non-existence of social experiences, as the case of a few individuals, personality does not emerge at all (Macionis and Plummer, 1998). An example here is the wolf boy (Baron, R., & Bryne, D., Branscombe, N., 2006). They noted that a boy who was raised by wolves, when he was brought from that situation into the space of human existence in which he was required to wear clothing and other social events died in less than two years from frustration. This happening goes to show the degree to which individuals are ‘culturalized’ by society, and that what makes us humans is simply not mere physical existence but the consent of society of that which is accepted as the definition of humans.
Macionis and Plummer argued that Charles Darwin supports the view that human nature leads us to create and learn cultural traits. “The family is the most important agent of socialization because it represents the centre of children’s lives” (Macionis and Plummer, 1998). Charles A Beard (in Tomlinson, 1964) believed that mothers should be appropriately called “constant, carriers of common culture”; this emphasizes the very principal tunnel to which mother guide their young, and they are equally conduits of the transfer of values, norms, ideology and perspective on the world for their children. Infants are almost totally dependent on others (family) for their survivability, and this explain the pivotal role of parents and-or other family member. The socialization process begins with the family, and more so those individuals to which the child will rely for survival. This happening emphasizes the how the child is fashioned into a human, and not merely because of birth. The child learns to speak, the language, actions, mode of communication, value system, norms and the meaning of things through adoption, repetition, and observation of the social actions of people within the environment. The process of becoming a human is simply only performed by the family but other socio-political agents.
Agents of socialization
Sociologists explain that the agents of socialization are classified in two (2) main groups namely primary and secondary. The family and peer groups are considered to be primary whereas the school, religious institutions (e.g. the churches) and mass media are seen as secondary because of their positioning in the socialization process of the infant. They confer that the primary agents of socialization are probably the most important in the socialization process of an individual.
Some sociologists argue that family and the state apparatus hold a close relationship in the socialization process of individual members of a society.
The relationship between the family and the stat may be view from two perspectives. …Individuals should be allowed to pursue their interests and rights as far as possible and that the state should have only a minimal role in influencing people’s lives. It follows from this that the family is a private institution in which individuals pursue their own concerns such as marriage, procreation and residence. The role of the state in these areas is restricted to a reactive and supportive role such as protecting the victims of family breakdown. Indeed the family is viewed as an autonomous institution, effectively countering the power of the state (Gosling, Hill, Fee and Taylor, 2003, p. 40).
From the perspective of Gosling, Hill, Fee and Taylor, the state supports the family so far as it is able to execute its functions without interfacing with those of other families. An underlying principle of the discourse that is not mentioned is the typology of states, and how their social policy may hinder or foster the individualistic nature of the family if the society were to subscribe to a particular political ideology (that is, capitalism as against socialism or communist).
What is political socialization and how is it different from the sociologists’ view of socialization?
Have you ever stopped to think about WHY you have the political beliefs and values you do? Where did they come from? Are they simply your own ideas or have others influenced you in your thinking? Political scientists call the process by which individuals acquire their political beliefs and attitudes "political socialization." What people think and how they come to think it is of critical importance to the stability and health of popular government. The beliefs and values of the people are the basis for a society's political culture and that culture defines the parameters of political life and governmental action (Mott, 2006).
Dr. Mott’s monograph despite having a summative perspective on the issue of ‘political socialization’ it is multi-dimensional, and it gives the notion that this phenomenon is substantially beliefs and values that one acquires from the ‘culturalization’ process on political ideology and governance but the issue is more spatial than that which was forwarded by the scholar; and include other tenets (i.e. civic engagement, patriotism, participation, paying taxes, and obeying the law) The limitation of Mott’s writing does not narrow this discourse but offer a premise upon which a monologue may proceed that will guide ‘culturalization’ of social man into a theorizing of what is known as ‘political socialization’. One academe writes that political socialization is “the process in which individuals acquires the information, beliefs, attitudes and values that helps them comprehend working of political system and orient them within it” (rsu.edu).
Our political upbringing is simply political socialization (Munroe, 1993). Munroe suggest that the ways and means through which our views about politics and our values in relation to politics are formed is part of our political socialization. Munroe states that, “It is also our upbringing that made us believe that politics is corrupt, dirty and prone to violence.” The astute professor of governance, Trevor Munroe, shows that, there are ranges of channels through which our political personalities are formed and these are known as primary and secondary agents of political socialization.
It is undoubtedly clear from Munroe’s, Macionis and Plummer’s and Haralambos and Holborn’s positions that, individuals are directly and indirectly influenced by the family, the school, the church, the mass media, and the peer group, as they all share the same focal view on socialization. That is, the political and sociological scientists have converged on a point of principle, that socialization albeit it may be political or sociological is one of the same.
The family imparts its political beliefs on the children by way of its biases, acceptance and approval of a particular political ideology (Munroe, 1993). He believes that, the indirect approach is one that the attitudes being formed are only indirectly related to politics, and are not directly political. For example, in the school or workplace there is some form of authority. The relationship form of authority develops an attitude to authority. This means that the attitude formed towards authority spills over to government.
Both Political Scientists’ and Sociologists’ propositions of socialization are similar except that the Political Scientists look at socialization from a political aspect (political ideology as a result of socialization). Sociologists, on the other hand, examine the process of socialization and its impact on society and on the individual general and not from a micro unit of the political system as that is only an aspect in the ‘culturalization’ process of the individual. Hence, are we proposing that human behaviour and conceptions are learned?
A group of notable psychologists argue that, learning is any relatively permanent change in behaviour, or behaviour potential, produced by experience (Baron and Bryne, 1997). They believe that, there can be no doubt that learning is a process in human behaviour. Simply put, Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning explains that much of man’s learning is via way of conditioning (Baron and Bryne, 1997). In that, behaviour is learnt through punishment, reinforcement and-or imitation. Thus, they (Baron and Bryne) show that, Freud believes much of our behaviours are through consciousness but have been actively repressed – and so they are driven from consciousness because they are either too vicious or provoking. For example, shameful experiences or unacceptable sexual or aggressive urges are often driven deep within the unconsciousness of people as a medium of relating to their occurrences. The fact that we are not aware of our unconscious behaviour, however, in no way prevents them from affecting our behaviour.
On the issue of human personality, Baron, Bryne, and Branscombe (2006) argue that, personality is an individual’s unique and relatively stable patterns of behaviour, thoughts, and emotions that are influenced by the family and the environment. Therefore, both the Sociologists and Psychologists who study different aspects in the Social Sciences reveal that human behaviour is learnt, and is influenced by their social environment through either ‘culturization’, adaptation, imitation or experiences garnered from the various social agents – the family, the church, the school, political ideology or structure, other social institutions or peer group.
During a conversation that the writer had recently with a particular individual, he (respondent) unambiguously stated that he and his father were aligned to the same political party. He recalled that his father would argue openly about one particular political party. “Dad would speak of the advantages of this party leader and by extension of the party with great gratification in his body language” he said. He grew up believing his “Dad’s words to be trustworthy” as he was the first authority figure on his impressionable mind. Furthermore, he disclosed that his early socialization was embedded in his subconscious so as such that, he was consequently influenced into present perspectives.
He had voted on two occasions purely on the request of his father. It was clear from the discussion with this young prospective geologist that the other party would not be given a second thought. He had never seen one of their manifestos or listened to their presentations yet he still does not see them as viable alternative for government. Although he recognized that there were a number of goal-oriented persons within the Opposition, he thought that for the love of their country they should become members of his party. He found it difficult to identify any negatives, complaints or inefficiency within his political ideology and association.
He declared that because of his early schooling, he continued in the practice of not being disrespectful of the political leadership even though sometimes he was highly critical of their judgements. Another example that he cited was standing at the sound of the national anthem. This was something that he learnt as a child while at primary school. He displayed much reverence while he spoke of our political authority as if he were totally submissive to their every fancy. The writer could sense this young man’s loyalty to Jamaica, and more so his in-depth closeness to a political ideology that was not based on rationality given his natural science background. He had five (5) Advanced Level subjects of which three (3) were with distinction. In addition, he was a finalizing student at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, pursuing an undergraduate degree in Geography/Geology. He believed that the heroes and heroine have awoken in him a love for Jamaica beyond the surface of the phrase pride. He revealed that, he was always proud to role-play Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley and Dr. Martin Luther when he was a child in school as they defended the rights, choices and freedom on the Black Race in a time when many were silently addressing their own personal concerns in their respective territories. He spoke eloquently and pasted his words with greater ease when he spoke of Sir Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley. His political ‘culturalization’ was so ingrained that he sounded a he were insane, irrational and highly emotional.
Another respondent declared that on his eighteenth birthday having been registered to vote and knowing little of the two (2) main political parties in Jamaica at the time, voted entirely based on ‘family’s influence and preference’. She argued that, she would hear her father; mother, aunts, uncles and elder brother spoke of a particular leader with the greatness and compassion as though this individual was God (i.e. Michael Manley). This young woman declared that her family argued that Jamaicans should be eternally grateful to this icon, father, leader, as he was instrumental in the establishment of ‘free education’, ‘minimum wage’, ‘maternity leave for pregnant women’, ‘poor relief benefits’ and other social programmes for the proletariat class in Jamaica.
She forwarded the perspective that while growing up as a child in her community, she had a love and bias for this leader without having read anything in order to justify those tendencies. She was a known graduate student of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, pursuing a course of study in Political Science. Political Science it was. As such, in retrospect, she believed that irrespective of one’s self-concept and decisiveness, many of the choices that we make are highly influenced by the early agents of socialization despite our declaration of rationality, ‘scientific mindedness’ and empiricism. People are highly subjective within the ambit of objectivity. We attach meanings to the interpretation of our world, and many of these are through ‘culturatization’ by the social agents in society. And so, it requires a consorted effort on the path of grown peoples to understand some of their biases that they have been attained due to early socialization and so re-socialize themselves in a state of willingness to review other perspective.
You may be inclined to postulate that this essay is specific in that it deals only with two (2) individuals, and these persons could be the exception and not the norm. And as a result, the writer used stratified random sampling techniques to select ten (10) students of Taylor Hall, Irvine Hall, Chancellor Hall and Preston Hall to carry out a study so as to ascertain a generality on socialization.
The writer formulated an instrument (questionnaire) to gather pertinent data on whether or not students’ present political ideology was as a result of their families’ political preferences, and-or as a consequent of formal education. From the responses, 90 percentage points of the population sampled agreed that their early political socialization have profoundly impacted on their present concept of politics, governance and authority.
None of the respondents who spoke indicated a total rebellion against the family and school. They all agreed that even in their most rebellious adolescent years, no stance was ever taken that was totally non-conforming. Instead, each contradictory idea in relation to their thought, values, norms and ways of socialization was always weighed against those initially imparted to them. And as such, oppositions were frequently never taken, as they felt wrong. All the respondents agreed generally that their construct of society, today, was mostly as a result of early socialization. In that the family and the school inculcated many of their values and beliefs as they spent a large percent of their formative and primary years in their care. They cited that political ideology is equally fashioned from the family, peer group and other social institutions to which the young and the individual continuously interface.
The writer grew up not directly hearing his parents speaks of political issues but knew of the family’s preference as it related to political ideology. In retrospect, the writer observed his mother in particular reverently listening to all the speeches of a particular political leader with awesome attentiveness. Furthermore, she showed much interest in hearing all details of his speeches; and she listened to all his public presentations, she had to hear. My uncle, on the other hand, who was a renowned political activist spoke nothing political while at home but we all knew of the his passion. The writer’s love for the man’s style, family loyalty, firmness in decision taken and kind heartedness made the man a mentor in many ways that one. As such, writer began patterning many of his uncle’s style. The result of all this was his choice when it came to make one was similar to that of his uncle’s and mother’s political preference. Little die the writer recognized that he had begun the imitation process in gravitating towards listening to all the speeches of the same political leader as that of his uncle and-or mother with the same attentiveness. In retrospect, writer would make countless excuses for not listening to the oppositions’ positions on important matters, and justify all position taken his party of preference while it was in leadership.
It was, therefore, obvious that the author’s construct of politics, governance and political ideology greatly mimic that his family’s political thought. For example, author was told never to question authority, obey authority, and speak no evil of those who are set in charge, the law of the land binds all men, your country’s need is paramount to yours, and that ‘you’ must contribute to your country’s economic and social development.
Schooling in the socialization process
The author’s upbringing was not only owing to family socialization but also equally as a result of formal schooling and social institution attached even after writing this paper. While being a student at primary school, the writer was actively involved in scouting and so one should grasp some of the reasons for his future perception, development and decisions. This involvement would see him responding to authority with respect irrespective of age, physical structure and-or status. We (all the scouts) would attend school earlier than the other students for flag raising ceremony every Monday morning, the ceremony would span approximately forty-five (45) minutes and for the duration of the programme we would stand upright with reverence while other students close were mobile and migrate from topology to another with great ease.
Attending secondary school, on the other hand, because the system was so structured, we respected authority by indoctrination, punishment, and ‘culturalization’. In that, there were a number of bodies that represented the teachers and were vested with the authority to maintain discipline and proper functioning of the school environment. Even when the teachers were absent, the structure was frequently upheld through class captain, students’ council representatives and prefects. All forms of authority groups within the school system were specifically designed so that they reflect the various positions in our society. Formal schooling through those agents previously mentioned provides the background for children to capture the values, norms and beliefs of political socialization.
In retrospect, many of the author’s peers who attended a particular non-traditional secondary school, although we were of the lower strata of the class structure, wanted our teachers to be proud of our future accomplishment. The writer was from a class of twenty-five (25) individuals, to which today: Five (5) persons are teachers, ten (10) are clerical personnel and two (2) persons are professional athletes.
It would be simplistic and one-dimensional to postulate that all individuals who passed through the gates of Vauxhall High formerly Vauxhall Secondary School were properly socialized by the school or for that matter the family as mass theorizing on socialization may want people to conceive. But, it is equally true that although all the students from that institution were brought up by the same agent of socialization (the school), some of the pupils were rebellious, deviant and anti the structure as they considered this to be oppressive and barbaric. As such, a few of them have angrily rebelled against the state as there way of expressing their dissatisfaction with the agents of socialization. Even though those persons may not be considered as a part of the typically averaged socialized persons, their position in the author’s perception is usually the catalyst for the socialization process to be re-analyzed for effectiveness.
Sociologists, psychologists and political scientists converge on the fundamental scope of socialization that it is embedded in ‘culturalization’; and they postulate that this is a life long happening. The ‘culturalization’ of animals into human beings is attained through plethora of social institutions within that society. Many sociologists have extensively studied the phenomenon of socialization, and have generally concluded that the process is multispatial, and does include political institution. Political agents of ‘culturalization’ are paramount in the socialization process of social man, as he/she relies on this institution for many actions and thereby this body aids the perspective that the individual forms of his/her socio-political and geo-historical space. Socialization, therefore, is not limited on the primary agent, the family, as man is a multi-dimensional being who operates within various social construct, and thereby formulates functions, perspectives and biases based on those institutions to which he/she must interact on an ongoing basis. In the situation of the wolf-boy, it was clearly demonstrated that social man is not automatically following birth, but is inextricably linked to association that the individual has with the various social agents in his social space. It follows from the setting of the wolf boy that ‘culturalization’ of social man is inevitable, and doctrine and biases that he/she takes from the experiences form a critical part of the individual’s social being. From this perspective, political institution plays a pivotal role in fashioning many of the social actions of man and this may be so ingrained in the individual that education and other experiences are unable to any re-engineer objectivity.
Political scientists concur with academies in sociology that social agents accommodate ‘culturalization’ of man into a social being. The discourse does not cease there, as political socialization is a micro unit in society, and that people constitute the macro unit through institutions and other social agents. Political socialization is not synonymous with political ideology, as the latter is an output of the ‘culturalization’ of social man. The discourse of political socialization begins early as within the family. The respect of authority that is taught to children is one element of political socialization, to the experience of the acceptance of nationalism, to the willingness of individuals to abide by rules and laws, to the appreciation of leadership in governance, to the actual political ideology are all symbolic representation of the areas within the political socialization discourse.
Author’s political socialization
In retrospective to the writer’s political socialization, it appears that his experiences are similar to of the averaged person. In that, he shares the same socio-political biases as many peoples on the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, in respect to adhering to political system and social structures, accepting the concept of self identity as provided by the agents of socialization and agreeing with the punishments of the society for those who decide not adhere to the punishment structure for deviance. An example here is: Instead of rebelling against aspects within particular social groups when they confront the author, he would suppress many of these instances within the sub-conscious, and for some he would request meetings with the demagogues as to panacea the ills of the situation in for them to make more effective.
So, the author concurs with Sociologists and Psychologist that ones present self, value system, beliefs, ideology and discourse perceptiveness are intricately woven in the ‘culturalization’ of his/her society through the social agents. It is the process of socialization of a child that distinguishes him/her from the other animals, as is clear from the example found by psychologists in the case of the wolf boy (Baron, Bryne, and Branscombe, 2006). Therefore social institution like the family and formal schooling are largely responsible for your present decisions, choices, and attitudes towards many events but this does not reduce the effectiveness of political socialization on the same individual.
Here the author accepts the notion that “no man is an island, no man stand alone”, as this fitting summarizes the socialization process of social man. The family, formal schooling, religion, political institution are encapsulated within the social space of ‘culturalization’ of man irrespective of the timing of this in man’s experiences. Political socialization is formed through interrelation with either your family members and-or formal schooling, and primarily from political parties’ ideology. A child enters the world with the scope to communicate, think and process information in order to make decision. That child becomes a human by mimicking the standards, norms, culture, myths and mentoring others in the process of enfolding into a higher animal. But the child’s experiences may be different as was the case in the story of the “wolf boy” of Midnapore.
Wolf boy socialization
Sociologists relate the story that two (2) children who were found in the company of wolves by a team of researchers. These children were seen walking on four (4) feet, barking, consuming raw meats and they were discovered to be fierce like the animals they mimic. Furthermore, a group of Sociologists tried their concerted best to re-socialize them into society but they were seen to be uncomfortable, highly frustrated and died after one (1) year (see Sociology Themes and Perspective, p.4). Hence, it follows that it is through the primary agents of socialization like the family that fashions a child into a human being, which is accepted by definition for society and not merely being the biological man. Therefore ones present political ideology is not arbitrarily constructed by present academic prowess but instead through such agencies like the mass media, family biases, ideology and acceptance of their authority. Owing to the fact that, a child for the about the first three (3) years depend mostly on the family for support and survival this forms a dependency to the authority of family and a high acceptance of much of their ideologies, beliefs, value system and political biases.
Therefore, the author subscribes to the discourse in psychology that the most critical years in the development of a child’s person are between birth zero (relative and not absolute) and five (5) years; hence, it is during this period that the ‘culturalization’ of the social being is formed. It should be noted that of the five-year period, the first three (3) of those years are spent with the family as a dependent from which many of the child’s views of this world is fashioned that will guide how he/she acts.
In western societies, many children enter the formal school system at three (3) years and onwards, as such, the school system helps the child to understand the value of authority and ones role in accepting this office. The language of patriotism is embedded into the consciousness of the child form the exposure with the various agents within the society and the family and the church reinforce those values. Teachers, and other authority personnel in the school system, stance on the pledge, the anthem, their display of respect for leaders of the country, their enthusiasm of the civic pride and homage of the heroes and heroine along with their role of dedication are sufficient tools used to foster the political socialization process on the young mind. And so, ones political thought is not accidental but is largely due to upbringing (i.e. ‘culturalization’). Since the family and the formal school system consume a large percentage point of an individual’s formative and impressionable years, it follows that ones political socialization is inculcated in the child from early, and that this process does not begin with an initiation into a political party or a certain political ideology.
The writer believes that it is predominantly as a result of political socialization that many Jamaicans do hold that loyalty of country, respect of authority, uphold of Capitalism, partisanship, and insist that the class structure is maintained. The socio-political system is so superseding that it develops a self-identity in the individual and a sense of non-resistance despite a states of conflict, which are resolved by the structure as against a shift of base of those institutions. It is through ‘culturalization’ of the different values, ideological perspectives, and knowledge is viewed of the social world for a child and many adults. Because socialization cease not with childhood, the culture learnt by the young and the continuity of the process formulate the human into an adoptable social agent. The way of life of people includes how they behave and think, and it the culture which is man-made that helps to comprehend the social man. Hence, within the general culture of a certain topology is the various sub-cultures, which are tenets of the diversifications of the main culture and this goes to justify how it is that the individual may have been socialized within the basic components but fails to be properly socialized based on the entirety of the dominant culture. Hence, the sub-culture may be dialectic to the general culture. The examples here are: (1), teenager peer subcultures, (2), Rastafarianism and (3), ‘gunmanship’ subcultures.
Theories of sociology clearly indicate that the discipline is attained through empiricism, realism, observation, phenomenology, and language discourse; and it shows how man being a social agent owes many of his/her ‘culture’ to the multitudinous social institutions to which he/she interrelate on an ongoing basis. It follows that political socialization is simply the framework, which seeks to explain a sub-discipline of sociology, socialization. Society is an amalgamation of organized group of people, and this cooperation solidarity the social order of that group by a way of life. This is an aspect of the sociological classic that political scientists theorize as political socialization within the space of political belief and ideology. From a sociopolitical space, socialization may be atypical despite the dominant culture, and this may be explained by the variations in subcultures; and how the different agents of social agents transform the norms, values, beliefs, and ‘culturalization’ of its members. There are areas of the general space, which may offer similar resemblance from one topology to another, and from one subculture to another but these may vary, with socio-demographic characteristics of the population. Thomlinson (1964, p.10) aptly describes how it is that socialization captures its player, and offers him/her a time space to operate. He said that “Without socialization, the individual has extremely limited capabilities, as is attested by studies of isolated children” (Thomlinson, 1964, p.10). It is this happening that psychologists refer to as conditioning. Children learn what they see and experience through a process of adaptation, imitation and reinforcement; but adults, on the other hand, do so through similar media but that the process is more complex. Hence, is political socialization any different from other tenets within the general socialization of humans?
The formulation of personality is determined by socialization through various socio-political agents. An infant is ‘culturalized’ a human being from the institutions to which he/she continuously interact on a daily basis, and not merely because his/her physiological existence. The child learn the values, beliefs, norms and cultures of a society through the interactive phase of his/her experiences, and many of these sociological agents are taught by family, peer group, church, formal schooling, and other social animals. The l process of acquiring a culture is referred to as socialization. It is during socialization that we learn the language of the culture. Our societies to which we are born into as well as the roles we are to play in life are tenets of ‘culturalization’. The example here is girls learn how to be daughters, sisters, friends, wives, and mothers. In addition, they learn about the occupational roles that their society expects of them. Generally, we are also socialized and usually adopt our culture's norms through the ‘culturalization’ process.
“Norms are the conceptions of appropriate and expected behavior that are held by most members of the society” (O’Neil, 2005). It should be contrasted that socialization refers to the general process of acquiring culture; anthropologists coin the word enculturation for the process of being socialized to a particular culture. O’Neil writes “You were enculturated to your specific culture by your parents and the other people who raised you.” Within the context of socialization, political beliefs, ideologies, nationalism, civic pride, values and other political tenets are elements that fashion the personality of man, and accounts for many of the biases that he/she exhibit in seeking to interpret his/her social world. Hence, political socialization is a component of socialization. This is a social agent within man’s culture, and is similar to other agents, which governs normalcy in man’s social world.
It is through the space of political socialization that individuals become aware of the tenets of political culture, political facts, and political values. This process, because man is a social agent and that he/she operates within groups, happens through the influence of parents, the media, friends, employment and a variety of other socio-political and physical stimuli. Therefore, it stands to reason that if persons are not exposed to germane facts, pertinent ideas, and a certain critical thinking process, their ability to self-govern is going to be exorbitantly limited.
Based on the discourse of social scientists on the phenomenon of socialization, it is highly improbable that people will be most influenced by those factors to which they are unexposed while growing up. There is a traditional vernacular used in Jamaica that “show mi who yu fiends are and mi tell yu how yu stay”, this summative expression speaks to the relationship between people and their social arrangements. Although this comment lends itself to generalizabilty to which is highly statistical non-empirical, but it is a statement concerning the effects on the conduct of that group dynamics and the likely common experiences of persons of same social agents. Because the decisions that the group makes impact on its members, members are highly likely to share some degree of value so as be continuously aligned to this institution.
Therefore, political socialization works for the political scientist as an accurate predictor of political beliefs and, by extension, voter preferences as family works for the sociologists in explaining social man. Political scientists theorize that voter preference, patriotism, nationalism, civic pride and political beliefs are embedded within the socialization process to which is attained by social agents. They concur with anthropologists that man’s present actions are predated to his/her experiences garnered over time from family, church, peer group, civil associations and political institutionalization. It follows that man does not acquire his/her values and beliefs whether they are political or social from merely being a physiological being but it is accomplished by ‘culturalization’. Man’s experiences are dynamic, complex and social and this means that he/she does not necessarily hold the same set of values, beliefs and ideology indefinitely but is likely to change perspective given particular set of experiences. As a result, his/her opinions are easily shifted and changed with the addition of new information. Despite the ‘scientificness’ to which social sciences seek to align itself, man is not as objectificated (or rationale) as many positivists would want us to belief; and so, he/she lacks some the critical thinking skills to assess the validity or relevance of the information that he/she receives so his/her opinions are easily manipulated by whoever controls the media. Media influence then becomes a political question for discussion.
The media are social agents, and so they are able to influence people’s perspective as much as they DO because they are a part of the socialization landscape. By placing a subject matter on the back of the newspaper, or leaving it completely untouched, will have an influence on the importance (or lack thereof) that people will attach to that item. Hence, the media play an important role in agenda setting for political issues.
The media thoroughly understand how values are formulated, and so they are able to use coverage and emphasize of issues through particular personalities to stimulate discourse and shape political culturalization. Like the family, the church, informal and formal social groupings, and formal schooling, the media is a mode of socialization. Political attitudes are grounded in values, to which the media exploit in an attempt to influence the culture. The media receive feedback on particular issues through public opinions from which guided approaches (or culturalization package) are taken to address certain values or attitudes through discourse.
Socialization is germane in understanding the social man, and how he/she operates within his/her physical environment, and why he/she is likely to take particular actions. The discourse of socialization undoubtedly explains culture, political ideologies, values and attitudes of people; and so, the phenomenon of political socialization is only a subset within the general categorization of socialization and therefore cannot be sidelined when analyzing the social space of socialization.
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