How does one develop their own political ideals? There are four main agents of political socialization that help to develop one’s beliefs and values about elected leaders and the politics surrounding them. These four important agents are the family, social groups, education, and political environment (Ginsberg et al. 144). Let’s look at these four agents in closer detail.
Our family usually influences our basic belief systems which carry over into our political values. There is a saying, “Children learn what they live”. The environment in which we grow up in affects how we think as adults. Most of the time children want to follow in their parents’ footsteps and unknowingly may adapt a lot of their parents’ attitudes towards politics and life in general. On the other hand, sometimes children want to be the opposite of what their parents were so they purposely lean towards being different. Either way most people draw some values and ideals from their family.
Being a part of a social group can also shape your ideas and beliefs. Social groups can be structured such as the Boy Scouts or informal such as a group of friends who get together regularly. When you are young you are more impressionable. As you grow and are around others outside your family circle you may learn things that can influence you. People that you may be around in various social groups can have an effect on your thoughts. By being exposed to different mindsets you are subjected to perspectives that may differ from your own giving you reason to expand or possibly change your outlook, especially when it comes to politics.
Another agent of political socialization is education. Learning new things can also give you a different perspective about life. Opening your mind to new ideas and thoughts can give way to change. Learning more about our history and world events can help shape your political opinions. Overall an educational environment has a great influence over what you may decide about your political ideals now and into the future.
Being in a political environment can certainly shape your ideals in politics. Someone who puts themselves in a political environment most likely has an interest in politics or feels a need to perform in a capacity that could possibly help shape others’ ideals in politics. One may find themselves in a political crossfire unintentionally such as someone who protests against wars or abortion. When hearing a fight for or against something usually one feels inclined to choose a side to defend. In this way, a political ideal could form.
Political opinions and even party selection is based on your belief system that you have acquired through living life. My political ideals were shaped through education and informal social groups. I grew up in an absolutely non-political environment. Not only was it non-political it was also non-news. My mother did not care to know anything about what was going on in the world. As a matter of fact, I did not really understand the concept of the “world” other than my own little world. The only current events I knew of were the events going on at my house. Therefore until I was around twenty-two, I did not know much about politics and even then I did not know a lot. I can remember being very excited about voting the first time. Even though I was not raised to be a patriot I have always felt inclined to do my civic duty and vote. One of my mentors told me that you cannot complain about the state of affairs if you do not vote. I think of that statement every time I vote. I have also said the same thing to others (who I knew had not voted) when they were complaining. Unknowingly, I may have helped to shape someone’s ideals about getting involved politically. I guess you could say I pay it forward in the world of political socialization.
How did you form your political beliefs? Who was your biggest influence in the forming of your political ideals?
Works Cited Ginsberg, Benjamin, Theodore J. Lowi, Margaret Weir, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Robert J. Spitzer. "Political Socialization Shapes Public Opinion." We the People: An Introduction to American Politics. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. N. pag. Print.