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Socialisation Todays lecture will to a significant, but not exclusive, extent be based on Rush: Politics and Society, chapter 5. Political socialisation.

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Presentation on theme: "Socialisation Todays lecture will to a significant, but not exclusive, extent be based on Rush: Politics and Society, chapter 5. Political socialisation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Socialisation Todays lecture will to a significant, but not exclusive, extent be based on Rush: Politics and Society, chapter 5. Political socialisation is the process in which we become political human beings. The process in which we acquire and develop values and opinions, which in turn affect our behaviour, such as voting.

2 Definition of political socialisation The process by which individuals in a given society become acquainted with the political system and which to a significant degree determines their perceptions of politics and their reactions to political phenomena" (Rush p. 92).

3 Alternative definitions Fred Greenstein (cited in Rush, p. 92f) –Narrow definition: "The deliberate inculcation of political information, values and practices by institutional agents who have been formally charged with this responsibility". –Broad definition: "All political learning, formal and informal, deliberate and unplanned, at every stage of the life cycle, including not only explicitly political learning but also nominally non-political learning of politically relevant characteristics".

4 The debate about socialisation… …revolves around what is transmitted into people, and whether this really has any proven effect. Warning against determinism, and assumptions of manipulation from above. In actual fact people are subject to a variety of influences from different sources, which sometimes are conflicting. Exactly what it is that forms attitudes, opinions and voting has not been conclusively resolved.

5 Political culture Defined by Almond and Verba as: "The Political System as Internalised in the cognitions, feelings and evaluations of its population" (Rush p. 95).

6 The Civic Culture (famous book by Almond and Verba, 1963): Political culture determined by three main factors: –Awareness of government –Expectations of government –Political participation Three types of political culture: –Parochial cultures (low awareness, expectations and participation) Mexico –Subject (higher levels of awareness and expectation but low participation) Italy, Germany –Participant (high levels of all three) USA, UK

7 Relationship political culture - socialisation Political culture is not synonymous with, but a product of, political socialisation (Rush, p. 96). This leaves political socialisation to be defined more broadly as The means by which individuals acquire political knowledge or information, political values or basic beliefs, and political attitudes or opinions on specific matters.

8 Rush, figure 5.1 (p. 97): Agents (such as families) trigger mechanisms (such as imitation or instruction), which take different shapes in different stages of human life. This leads to perceptions, which in turn lead to behaviour. This process is continuous. The end effect is reprocessed via experience. Thus, old perceptions can be reinforced, but it can also lead to new perceptions and, in turn, changes in behaviour.

9 Agents of socialisation Institutions. Educational system, military (conscription), mass media. Peer groups. People who share a level of social standing and age (school, work). Primary groups. Groups where people have close and informal relationships and share the same values. Secondary groups. Groups where people have formal and impersonal relationships (church, parties, unions).

10 Agents of socialisation… …transmit values and opinions, which are received by mechanisms such as imitation, instruction, motivation. Eventually, these influences form a perceptual screen, consisting of knowledge, values, attitudes, et c.

11 Four central issues in the study of political socialisation What is learnt When is it learnt How is it learnt The possible effect of what is learnt

12 The WHAT question (1) What do agents of socialisation transmit? Recognition of individual authority Recognition of distinction between external (public; police, president etc.) and internal (parents, teachers etc) authority Recognition of impersonal political authority (parliament etc.) and Recognition of distinction between institutions and the individuals associated with them. The above is learnt in stages, where the last is the most advanced stage.

13 The WHAT question (2) In feminist thinking, the emphasis in on attitudes on gender relations. How girls are taught to behave in a certain way, and how boys are taught a different behaviour. These values are transmitted via dress codes, toys, and also in the way which adults respond to things boys and girls do. In Marxism, focus is on class structure. Upper class attitudes as well as lower class deference are transmitted.

14 The WHAT question (3) Examples of other values that are transmitted via socialisation: Rulers and the ruled. Nationalism, national stereotypes. When you study politics at a British university, you are socialised into democratic thinking.

15 The WHEN question (1) When does socialisation take place? Always, but most importantly during childhood and adolescence. According to David Easton and Robert Hess, the most important period is between the ages of 3 and 13.

16 The WHEN question (2) Only vague, affective notions about politics and political figures are acquired in childhood. These notions lead to a set of values, an outlook, but do not by any means necessarily determine concrete opinions, or allegiances. These develop later. However, the values acquired during childhood can be important in shaping the subsequently formed concrete values and opinions. It is debated about how important childhood is in shaping the values of an individual. Also how concrete any effects of childhood experiences are.

17 The WHEN question (3) David Butler and Donald Stokes (in the book Political Change in Britain, 1974) speak of a political life-cycle in four phases: 1) Infancy. Innocent of the existence of politics. 2) Childhood, adolescence, early adulthood. Becomes aware of politics. 3) Later adult years. Political interest increases, attitudes harden. 4) Old age. Loyalties remain, but loses interest in politics. Phases 2 and 3 are the most interesting, because they are the phases with political consequences.

18 The WHEN question (4) Butler and Stokes place heavy emphasis on parent to child influence. In their research they have found clear evidence of effects of parents' interest in politics on own interest in politics. "A child is very likely indeed to share the parents' party preference" (p. 51). The reproduction of the parents' partisanship is almost photographic to begin with.

19 The WHEN question (5) It becomes blurred as time goes by, but remains easily recognisable. Extra-family factors, (social milieu, political events) play a role, especially when strength of family influence is weak (e.g. when no or mixed party preference among parents). Homogeneous neighbourhood and family background reinforces party attachment. Butler & Stokes: duration of party support, not age, strengthens party loyalty. Psychological attachments become stronger the longer they are held. Thus not true that people become conservative as they grow older. Butler & Stokes emphasise stability of preferences within generations (age cohorts). But they were wrong –they predicted an era of Labour dominance (book was published in 1974)…

20 The WHEN question (6) Adult socialisation: the party member who learns some norms as an activist, is resocialised if elected an MP, and then again if becoming a member of the House of Lords. Society perpetuates itself via socialisation, p Marxists view this negatively (obstacle to societal change), and functionalists positively (provides societal stability and equilibrium).

21 The HOW question (1) How does the learning process take place? Via agents of socialisation. In some circumstances, the values transmitted by different agents are homogenous. However, if different agents promote different values, it can lead to Cross Pressure. Cross pressure could lead to ambivalence, inability to make a decision, abstention from voting, et cetera.

22 The HOW question (2) Explicit and implicit socialisation Examples of explicit socialisation could be from some socialist countries, e.g. China: We love chairman Mao Implicit learning is more common, and in all probability, at least as effective. E.g. films in Nazi Germany The Eternal Jew (too blunt); The Jew Süss (more subtle)

23 Relationship socialisation – political behaviour (1) Class voting is reinforced by socialisation. Butler & Stokes found a strong correlation between first vote and parents' vote. Socialisation is central in the Party Identification (Michigan) model of voting. Linked to group memberships and family influence.

24 Relationship socialisation – political behaviour (2) Thus, socialisation can have an effect on political behaviour, e.g. who you vote for. It can also have an effect on participation; whether you vote at all, or are politically active. Central to activity is the concept of political efficacy (the extent to which individuals feel they are able to exert influence over politics). Socialisation is widely seen as a major explanation of legitimacy

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