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Political socialization: lesson overview

A high-level overview of the processes by which individuals develop political values and beliefs.
Political scientists measure how US political behavior, attitudes, and ideologies are shaped by a number of factors over time. Individuals acquire political beliefs due to cultural factors, including their demographic characteristics and their experiences with family, friends, school, religion, and the media.

Key terms

demographic characteristicsSocioeconomic characteristics of a population, including age, race, gender, religion, marital status, occupation, education level, and more. These characteristics influence how individuals tend to vote and whether they identify with a political party,
globalizationThe growth of an interconnected world economy and culture, fueled by lowered trade barriers between nations and advances in communications technology. Globalization has influenced American politics by increasing the extent to which the United States influences, and is influenced by, the values of other countries,
party identificationAn individual’s sense of loyalty to a specific political party.
political socializationThe process by which a person develops political values and beliefs, including through interactions with family, friends, school, religious and civic groups, and the media.

Influence of demographic factors on party identification

CharacteristicStatistically more likely to identify as a DemocratStatistically more likely to identify as a Republican
Income levelLow-income individualsHigh-income individuals
Marital statusSingle, divorced or widowed individualsMarried individuals
EmploymentBlue-collar workersWhite collar workers, women who work in the home
RaceAfrican Americans and Hispanic AmericansWhites
ReligionJews, those unaffiliated with a religionProtestants, Catholics
RegionNortheasterners, WesternersMidwesterners, Southerners
AgeYounger and older AmericansMiddle-aged Americans
Union membershipUnion membersNon-union members
Parental politicsParents strongly aligned with Democratic PartyParents strongly aligned with Republican Party

Review questions

Why are certain demographic groups more likely to align with the Democratic or Republican Party?
How do individuals form their political beliefs? What are the major factors that affect beliefs?

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