Week 2 Discussion: Your Political Socialization

“The ideal of democracy or democratic participation in governing relies on an educated citizenry. Education about the structure, forms, and functions of government is only half of it; citizens should be knowledgeable and aware of what their government is currently doing (Cobb, 2020).” As a child I remember many conversations surrounding politics and education about politics while in school. My family, friends, and teachers taught me the values of my life along with the rules and norms of political life. They all helped me to develop the attitudes, values, beliefs, opinions, and behaviors that are needed to become a good citizen. From observing the people around me I came to understand my role and fit myself into our political culture. My beliefs are always changing and expanding as I grow, learn, and become more aware of others. From watching presidential elections and debates, hearing about the war in Iraq, and sending care packages from my school for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, I have gradually become more and more politically socialized. One event I remember the most however happened on September 11, 2001. As I was sitting in my first grade classroom, I knew immediately something was wrong. I remember asking my teacher, friends, and family all that I could so that I could wrap my head around it all. As an adult I am able to see just what this devastating event caused as a result. From wars, immigration and deportation, to airport security and an overall increase in government oversight.

Political changes are important because system shocks like 9/11 can lead to rapid policy shifts, and relatives of victims often become leaders advocating for such. Following 9/11, researchers found heightened levels of posttraumatic stress across the country, especially close to the New York attacks, as well as increases in individuals’ trust in government and conservative political attitudes. Changes in political attitudes are consequential and measurable outcomes of the psychological effects of politicized violence (Hersh, 2013).

Hersh, E. D. (2013). Long-term effect of September 11 on the political behavior of victims’ families and neighbors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(52), 20959–20963. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1315043110Links to an external site.

Cobb, W.N. W. (2019). Political Science Today. [Bookshelf Ambassadored]. Retrieved from https://ambassadored.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781544358314/

Let me preface this discussion post with my knowledge of politics. I know just about nothing about politics. I was never interested in politics and to this day I don’t understand a lot of the terminology involved or the ideas and concepts. This is likely a result from a mix between my own disinterest in the subject, and the very poor job my high school did at teaching about the United States political system. With that out of the way, I shall continue. To be honest, I don’t really remember being influenced by friends and family’s political conversations at such a young age, like 10 years old. When I heard conversations about politics, I pretty much loose interest and zone out, or just pay no attention to the conversation. So, therefore, I can’t really say I remember being politically socialized as a child. Perhaps my early teen years are more so the time when I at least listened to and acknowledged conversations regarding politics. I am from a rural area in Pennsylvania, and it is largely republican. It seems that everyone and their brother is a hunter, and therefore gun control is a sensitive topic. There are a lot of old fashioned, and often what I deem ignorant views that are shared in this population.

Generally, I have and still will avoid talking about politics with those around me. Primarily because I don’t fully understand how politics work, but also because I don’t like the way that people in this area treat you based on your political views. However, one of the biggest outlets in which I was exposed to my friends, families and local strangers’ political views in my early teens was through social media, primarily Facebook. Facebook, with its variety offering of pictures, videos, memes and the ability for literally anyone to comment their opinion on any political post. Often times you’ll even see someone take something that had no political relevance and comment their political views and try to relate them. Studies actually have shown that through Facebook, the younger generations are the most engaged in posting their political views, watching political videos and sharing politically based posts (Vromen et. Al, 2016). Personally, I know I see a lot of my friends post pro -republican / anti-democrat types of political posts, and personally I don’t get involved in weighing in on their discussions they provoke. Through social media, I am able to see the political thought process of both sides of an issue, and I’m able to dissect their reasoning as they lay it out on Facebook for everyone to see. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that I take everything I see politically on Facebook and other forms of social media is because Facebook has shown to be one of the leading spreaders of fake news. This is especially important to note, because it has shown that currently 60% of Americans get their news from social media (Cobb, 2019). So, in short, I have been most politically socialized through Facebook and social media, but I take everything I read with a grain of salt.

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