How are political views formed? Describe some of the key processes and factors through which individuals become politically socialized. How do institutions such as families and groups, as well as personal experiences, come to shape individual opinions?  What do you consider to be the most important institution?  Why?  Please be sure to provide examples to support your position.

 

Political socialization is when people of all ages acquire political attitudes, cognition and behavior. This socialization comes from many places, and most of the times it is transmitted from one generation to another. Alongside the views and preferences that stay with the person for the rest of their lives.

This knowledge mainly comes when growing up and learning about the political system from the family. With time, the factors increase to include schools, society, workplace and so on. Although family is the main source of this knowledge, it is not the most reliable one. It passes through generations, when somebody followed an idea a long time ago, and it was passed from the grandfather to the father and now to the son. The political party is still the same for example, but the idea has changed. So now the son is receiving the end part of the story when he follows the political party for the wrong reasons, just because his father told him it has the best views and works for public interest. This forms an ideology that can be misleading, and at the young age, we tend to accept this knowledge without arguments and believe it blindly because it is coming from our main authority figure. Ideas taken at a young age are very hard to change. Parents have to teach their children about politics in general, so when they come to the age of reason, they have the freedom to choose (if they want) one side or the other. Same applies to religion, when we take this knowledge for granted and fight about how right or wrong something is, just because we did not have an option when we were young.

Mass media has huge influence on forming ideas in our mind, political and non-political. No matter how convinced a person can be in some ideology, when hearing the opposite thing over and over, this makes us think twice, and with the right approach and extensive effort, ideas can be changed, at least for some time. Workplace can be a factor as well, when we talk to the same people every day over the years of working together, the political topic comes to mind often and people tend to discuss it on a daily basis. So these views with time may change depending on the circumstances and surroundings. Political parties do a very good job at putting ideas in people’s minds. Many of us do not have an absolute ideology, we can be hesitant at times, and when election time comes, and we are between two parties not knowing which one to follow, a political campaign can help us decide. Usually the one with the better and more expensive campaign that shows you their idea and mission on a daily basis is the one who wins. When we see it on the TV, social media, billboards and so on, it can formulate our mind on a subconscious level. Our friends and peers also have a big influence on our political views. They are people we see all the time, and even if we disagree at one point, with time, we may come to the same conclusion and one will convince the other. Religion can affect our decision and view in many ways. If there is a country that has two leading parties for example, one of them has a Muslim leader and consists mainly of Muslims, the other one is Christian and has mainly Christians. So a person born in a Muslim family is automatically considered to be a supporter of the Muslim party, simply because that is the majority.

There are many factors that shape our opinion, and the major one is the family because this knowledge is taken at a young age and for granted, and was grown throughout the years to be a fully formed idea. We rely on knowledge from all sources and from personal experience, but it is best if we stay objective when it comes to politics, and decide for ourselves based on what we think to be true and best, not simply because somebody told us it is the better way. If we want to make up our mind, we have to do the research and find what suits us best.