Political Socialization

Have you ever stopped to think about WHY you have the political beliefs and values you do? Where did they come from? Are they simply your own ideas or have you been influenced by others in your thinking? Political scientists call the process by which individuals acquire their political beliefs and attitudes "political socialization." What people think and how they come to think it is of critical importance to the stability and health of popular government. The beliefs and values of the people are the basis for a society's political culture and that culture defines the parameters of political life and governmental action.

Political Culture
America's political culture is deeply rooted in this nation's revolutionary roots. The pronouncement in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is the bedrock of American political belief. As the Declaration further states, Americans generally believe that the purpose of government is to "secure these rights" and that the government derives its "just powers from the consent" of the people.

Reasearch and Study Helps

How do you become a United States citizen?
Is the United States a Democracy?

Think About It

Why do you hold the political beliefs that you do? Who or what influenced you the most?
Why don't people change their party affiliations very often?

Applying What You've Learned

Visit the national political party web sites for the Democratic and Republican parties. Read the platforms of the two parties. Which platform matches your political beliefs and opinions the closest?

Political Socialization on the Web

PEW Research Center for the People & Press