Politics is one of the widely discussed topics in the world. This is attributed to the fact that politics plays a pivotal role in the life of an individual by defining the course of life. Through politics people get influenced. Manifold motivation is drawn from political leaders who not only challenge people’s lives but also inspire them towards reaching defined destinies in life. It is mostly via politics that one clearly understands the need for having a focused leadership in the nation. Depending on the political system that exists, citizens are able to predict certain parameters like economic growth which significantly depends on the political atmosphere generated by political leaders. But how exactly does one learn about political behavior? What defines political ideas and opinions of individuals in life? Are children born with political beliefs and opinion? All these questions circumnavigate the concept of political socialization. It has been described by political experts as the process by which individuals develop political beliefs, opinions and ideas.
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As an influential component of human social development, political socialization begins at childhood and continues to old age. There is a diverse view of politics among young people compared to the old generation. The manner in which old people view the political system is manly based on their past experience. They have tested both the bitter and sweet side of a political system and therefore they have informed opinions and views about politics. On the other hand, young people mainly derive their opinions and political beliefs from the influence which emanates from their surrounding. This influence is either from the family, peers, schools, churches among others and is referred to as agents of socialization (Political Socialization). It is therefore possible for political opinions to be passed from one generation to another through one or some of these agents especially the family. The attitude that parents have concerning the government and the general political system can slowly trickle into the lives of their children making a basic foundation for their future political behaviors, beliefs and opinions.
The family plays an irreplaceable role in the life of any person. As building blocks of any society, members of every society have a responsibility in defining the behavior of young people. When parents complain about high cost of living, it gets registered into their mind that their political leaders do not care about the welfare of the poor. This determines political opinions of children and end up nurturing these beliefs throughout their lives. Agents of socialization generate an atmosphere in which the whole process of political socialization takes place (Political Socialization). Do schools, churches and other social institutions impact political behavior of a person? It is important to note that among many other functions of a school, provision of knowledge is a mega one. Children learn about governance and political systems in schools and other education centers. They explore, laws passed by politicians, decisions made, their political manifestos and vision. As a result, scholars get a glimpse of what politics is and develop dramatic insights which may redefine their beliefs and political opinions.
Religion also plays a role in shaping people’s political views. For example a group of people with the catholic faith may choose to be affiliates of a certain political party based on what the party and its leaders stand for. On the other hand, Protestants who have always believed in social issues and conservative economics are likely to take a political stance based on the manner in which the government handles such issues (Political Socialization). Another agent is mass media which is the main channel through which citizens get informed of what may be happening in the political realm. This informational may cover passed historical which shaped the political direction of a nation. It is from such coverage that people decide whether to support a particular party or political leader.
Generally, political socialization takes place on a daily basis in every society. The happenings of today greatly determine the political opinions, beliefs and ideas of tomorrow. These are also passed down to other generations thus promoting a particular opinion. However, among all the agents of political socialization, the family schools and religion remain crucial. Above all, the government itself sets a political pace and atmosphere which ends up shaping political beliefs of citizens.
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