Agents of Political Socialization

?paper:Agents of Political Socialization paper

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Political socialisation, as has already been explained, is the process by which the values, beliefs and emotions of a political culture are passed on to succeeding generations. The process starts at an early age and continues throughout life.

The institutions of family, the school, religious institutions, the Peer group, mass media, and experiences gained during employment serve as its agencies. Of these the family is the first in order of importance. So following agents help the process of political socialisation.

Agents

1- Family:

Family plays the key role in moulding the character of the child and his attitude towards authority. In the family, mother and father play the leading role in influencing the child in his formative stage.

The formative stage of the child is from 3 to 15 years. Brothers and sisters also exercise the hidden influence upon the child. The mother and father exercise not only the hidden influence but also the manifest influence.

The hidden influences shape his entire attitude towards authority, while manifest influence plays a direct role in the development of his political opinion. It has also been observed that a young man defies the authority or obeys it or extends co-operation mainly because of the attitude moulded by the family.

“An early experience in participation in decision making”, according to Almond and Verba, “can increase the childs sense of political competence, provide him with skill for political interactions, and thus enhances the probability of this active participation in the political system when he becomes an adult”.

2. The Educational Institutions:

After the family, the educational institutions exercise the strongest possible influence, both latent (hidden) and manifest upon the child. Children getting education in a particular institution may develop particular kind of frame of mind.

The fact that about twenty-five percent of all British Conservative MPs went to Eton is an indication of this. As the educational institutions exercise considerable influence, therefore the selection of courses has become important.

Jawaharlal had said many a time about the anti- national role of the Muslim League in the post-independence days and his words had become quotations in many text-books of Kerala. Therefore, the Muslim League after forming an alliance with the ruling partners insisted on the expunction of the.se remarks from the text books.

Consequently, Almond and Verba have pointed out that the more extensive an individuals education, the more likely he is to be aware of the impact of Government to follow politics, to have more political information, to possess a wider range of opinions on political matters, to engage in political discussions with a wider range of people, to feel a greater ability to influence political affairs, to be member of voluntary organisations and express confidence in his social environment and exhibit feeling of trust. Jaya Prakash Narain led the agitations of the students in Gujarat and Bihar and it led to great political socialisation of the students.

3. Peer groups:

Peer groups also create a particular influence on the mind of individual more than in or outside the school. Peer group is a group of people of the same age sharing similar problems. Peer group is thus a friendly group.

Changes in ones mental attitude from hostility and aggression to co-operation or vice-versa are registered while in the company of friends. The courses of study, debates, discussions and extra-curricular activities have their own impact upon the attitudes of their grown-up students.

According to James S. Coleman, “In developed countries like the United States and Sweden, the socialising influence of parents and teachers begins to decrease in early adolescence and from then Peer groups exercise increasingly important influences on political attitudes and behaviour”.

As the person grows older, some Peer groups that were highly influential in his adolescence are superseded by them required by the circumstances of his new life, such as work-associates, neighbours and above all husband or wife.

4. Mass Media:

Mass media plays a significant role in moulding the views of the children. A controlled mass media may bring out a sort of uniformity of views and a special like for the existing political system but free mass media (Television, radio, and free press) may create a special dislike and resentment in the mind of the individual against the dictatorial political system.

According to Lucian Pye, “Socialisation through the mass media is the best short-run technique available and it is crucial to modernisation”. It was perhaps on this account that mass media controlled by the Congress Government during Internal Emergency (1975-77) but it was extremely disliked by the people and they voted the Congress out.

5. Experience in employment:

Experiences which are gained while in employment are also very important. An individual brought in a family given to co?­operation by nature and believing in democratic principles, may develop a strong sense of resentment, even of violence, if he finds his employer behaving meanly. In employment one learns about the attitude of dominance of employers towards the employees and a superiority complex of the officers towards the subordinates.

The general strike of the workers for the improvement of their wages and conditions of work and consequent collective bargaining by the workers may exercise strong political influence or powerful socialisation both for the workers and employers.

6. Religious institutions:

Religious institutions play an important role in political socialisation. This agent is the most active in India as the people are readily swayed by their religious feelings. The effect of the Church on political attitudes, “is less apparent when it reinforces other socializing agencies, but the role of Roman Catholicism in many European countries liberal democratic and totalitarian, offers illustrations of its conflict with both State and education, and is possibly a vital factor in the political behaviour of women in some countries”.

7. Role of Government and Party agencies:

Political parties disseminate political knowledge and values, mobilize political action and train political leaders. Individuals come directly into contact with the governmental functionaries. They come to know for what purpose the government stands for and what the government is doing.

If the government does something good, then the idea of obedience is reinforced amongst the individuals. If the government develops vested interests and it ignores the interests of the labour class, then the individuals is bound to resent such action.

No matter how positive the views of the political system which has been inculcated by family and school, writes Almond and Verba, “when a citizen is ignored by his party, cheated by his police, starved in the breadline, and Anally conscripted in the army, his views of the political realm are likely to be altered”. The corruption and inefficiency which prevailed in the government, made many people to remark that the British Government was better than the present one.

8. Symbols:

Symbols also play an effective role in the political socialisation. These include birthdays or martyrdom days of our national heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai and Bhagat Singh. The observance of these days inculcates a new spirit among the youth and the people begin to dedicate for national cause again.


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