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Political Socialization

The concept of political socialization embodies an unresolved tension in how theorists think about the processes by which a democratic culture renews itself. Political socialization is conventionally understood as a kind of generational inheritance in which societal “agents” such as families, schools, and media transmit civic knowledge and attitudes to youth. The promotion of values such as a commitment to voting and trust in government is thought to ensure the stability of a democratic regime. However, this top-down, “enculturation” perspective tends to view children and young adults as passive recipients of political influence. Recent research in political communication offers evidence that challenges the enculturation paradigm and points instead to civic learning as a developmental dynamic in which youth potentially exhibit a good deal of autonomy ...

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