How Does Political Socialization Affect Young Children?

Political socialization affects young children through the primary influence of their parents and often results in children inheriting their parents' views and party affiliations. Parents are the predominant socializing factors in a young child's development, and political orientation is one of the strongest socially-inherited traits acquired by children. Political kinships and animosities are often developed in young children long before they are capable of understanding the underlying concepts behind the political systems that they are expressing allegiance to.

Much of the political orientation of a young child is developed indirectly and unintentionally. The child often wishes to imitate the characteristics and attitudes of the family-unit adults who are liked, supportive or respected. Because the earliest interactions in a young child's life are with the family, which represents the most important influencing agent during the formative years, inherited political orientations can persist past the point of understanding the differences between opposing and varying systems.

Following the family in degree of influence, the political socialization process is affected by the schools attended and by the mass media. Religion also plays a role in the process and, to a lesser extent, exposure to members and demagogues of political parties. Later in life, the workplace may become an additional factor in the adolescent political socialization process.