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Main content

Political socialization

MPA‑1.B (LO)
MPA‑1.B.1 (EK)
Factors that influence an individual's political attitudes and values.

Video transcript

- [Instructor] What we're going to do in this video is think about how a person's environment or experiences affects their political perspective, their political attitude. So one way to think about it is how is your socialization, your political socialization? How does that drive your political attitudes? And I encourage you pause this video, think about your own political leanings whether you lean to the left or you lean to the right, where did that come from? Was it just you in a vacuum thinking about things or were you influenced by your family, your friends, your school, maybe the media, maybe something that you're part of, maybe a club or church, mosque, synagogue or temple and this is actually an area of study for political scientists and as you can imagine, some of the things that I just mentioned are significant factors that people have studied in terms of what develops people's political attitudes? If you come from a family of staunch Democrats, you're more likely to be a Democrat or at least lean to the left. If the environment of your school or what you're exposed to in school leans one way or another, you are likely, more likely to lean in that direction. If your friends go one direction or another, that could be a very powerful influence. Obviously, what you're exposed to in the media and out of all of these, the one that's maybe the most studied is the notion of family and to appreciate this idea, let's look at this diagram right over here. So I encourage you to pause the video and see if you can make sense of this before we do that together. Alright, it says Percentage Intergenerational Resemblance in Partisan Orientation and this date is from 1992. So it shows three different scenarios, one scenario where we are looking at folks where both parents are Democrats, another scenario where we're looking at folks where both parents are Republicans and then another scenario where there's no consistent partisanship among parents so either they are split or maybe they are independent and actually, if we look at this third scenario first, you see that it's a pretty symmetrical distribution. Green shows, of people whose parents showed no partisan preference, 17% are pure independent, about 18% lean towards the Democrats, 16% lean to the Republican. That's about the same. 14% are weak Democrats. 14% are weak Republicans. 10% are strong Democrats. 10% are strong Republicans. So it's a pretty balanced distribution here but then if you look at the scenario where both parents are Democrats, you see that of those folks, only, what is this? This is eight plus six is 14 plus seven. Only 21% are Republicans. And if you go the other way where both parents are Republicans, you have only 18% of those folks become Democrats. So this is just interesting food for thought. A lot of us really like to believe, including myself, that hey, I've come to all of these conclusions based on completely impartial thoughts about how the world should be but we are influenced by our environment and especially from our family and frankly, even the folks who go in a different direction than their families, that might have been because of their family. Maybe they decide that hey, that always frustrated me one way or the other so I'm gonna go the other way or I'm gonna rebel a little bit and I'm gonna go the other way because I am a free thinker but even in that situation, you are being influenced by your environment.