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What is political socialization?

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Political socialization is the lifelong process during which people gain their political views, espouse their political values and express opinions based on these ideas. Family, schooling, friends and mass media help determine political beliefs at different points in a person's life. Life experiences also influence political socialization. The ultimate goal of political socialization is to form a person's opinions towards public policies.

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Political socialization first happens at home with a child's family, especially with parents. Dinner table discussions, comments about elections and off-hand statements regarding laws help define a young child's political socialization.

Older children develop more political socialization skills at school by seeing and learning about the process. Class officers, American history classes and school elections teach children about the logistics of politics by putting theories into action.

Peer groups during teenage years affect someone's political socialization because a teen may vote a certain way because everyone else does. High school elections for homecoming and student councils may shape someone's political opinion.

As adults, mass media forms the basis for political socialization. Evening news broadcasts, online news sources and live debates enhance a voter's political views. The previous methods of political socialization may affect the choices of which mass media a voter may subscribe to as an adult.

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