In order to be explicit in the understanding and application of politics, one must first understand the method in which they are politically socialized. How well one is politically socialized can be seen through many aspects of day to day life such as how they participate in public affairs, political conversations and most importantly if and how they vote. It has been widely acknowledged that the lack of participation in politics and elections by adolescents is becoming a national dilemma.
The three articles reviewed in this paper were intricately selected due to each of their creative and varying views on the most important institution affecting political socialization and participation. The article “Political Socialization: Modeling Teen Political and Civic Engagement” by Warren & Wicks explores the connection between macro and micro-level socialization agents putting much emphasis in the role of family in political socialization.
The Political Socialization of Adolescents in Canada: Differential Effects of Civic Education on Visible Minorities” written by Claes, Hooghe and Stolle examine how school systems at an early age can impact the political participation of youth, as well as speculating why there is such a political apathy among adolescents. Finally “Political Socialization and the Future of Politics” by Hooghe, examines how generational gaps as well as other external factors are affecting the incentive of adolescents to participate in politics.
While political socialization can be thought of as a broad and debatable issue, the root of why adolescents refrain from voicing their opinion in politics is much more explicit. It will be proven in this paper that the article by Hooghe presents the most creative and persuasive argument regarding how political socialization affects political participation of adolescents. This argument will be outlined by comparing the influence of family, education systems and generational gaps to the claims made by Warren & Wicks (2011) and Claes et al. (2009).
Families are constantly stressed as the most crucial social institution in regards to socialization. All three articles presented are similar in that they acknowledge the importance of parent-child discussion of politics. While Warren & Wicks (2011) state “Parent and child communication is one of the most important socialization influences” there is no further convincing evidence provided to support such statement. Warren & Wicks (2011) also stress the importance of cognitive engagement in political participation such as the reading of newspapers and participating in public affairs with family members.
The authors’ later claim that the parent-child relationship may be overshadowed by macro systems such as church and education (Warren & Wicks, 2011). The argument stressing the importance of parent child communication in political participation presented by Warren & Wicks (2011) is not well founded because of the contradiction of their argument throughout their research. When Hooghe (2004) acknowledges the connection between parent and child in its relation to participation in politics, he has a much less assertive approach.
Hooghe (2004) claims “The propensity to discuss politics with parents will strongly affect willingness to participate”. It is also critically pointed out that those politically active in associations at an early age with family members will continue to do so later on in life, as they are already members in politicized networks (Hooghe, 2004). The author does not belittle the importance of this relationship in politics, yet he credits its importance and continues on to further arguments.
While education systems and classrooms are the home of socialization and the attainment of many attitudes and behaviours, whether or not it is an advantageous front for political socialization is controversial. While the three selected articles discuss educations relevance in political participation, the ideas presented within them vary. Warren & Wicks (2011) suggest that schools are viewed as “incubators of democratic participation” referring to the classrooms that engage such political discussions. Claes et al. 2009) expand further to claim that children’s strong emotional ties to their nation are rooted in what is learned in elementary school.
The authors also state that civic education positively influences political knowledge and the intention to participate in politics among adolescents (Claes et al. , 2009). While there is truth among what these authors have claimed, Hooghe (2004) presents a different approach. He argues that due to prolonged education, youth are not thoroughly educated enough in political issues when it becomes time to vote in an actual election (Hooghe, 2004).
Even with the education provided, the fact remains that adolescents are not integrated into the labour market, they do not have kids or own a house; without being involved in any of these activities or events it is understandable as to why youth are less connected to political and civil society (Hooghe, 2004). Education is critical in acquiring political knowledge indefinitely, although it is valid as to why many youth do not bother to concern themselves with political activity, when they do not feel as involved as those of older generations such as their parents.
While the connections made by Warren & Wicks (2011) as well as Claes et al. (2009) were valid, the argument presented by Hooghe (2004) in regards to education is much more objective and applicable to reality. Finally, it is not what was addressed in the articles by Warren & Wicks (2011) or Claes et al. (2009) that made their claims less persuasive than the findings of Hooghe (2004); but what was not addressed. What Warren & Wicks (2011) presented was very central around the macro-level and micro-level socialization methods, focusing on family and the parent-child relationship.
The flaw in their article was that there was a great deal of focus on what factors should in theory lead to political participation, yet lacked in reasons concerning why there is such a low amount of adolescent participation. Claes et al. (2009) made the same error by stating at the beginning of their article “37% of citizens 18-24 voted in the federal election of 2004, compared to the 61% of the entire population”. They addressed the statistical issue of scarce youth voting, but did not provide any insight as to why the turnout may be so low. Claes et al. 2009) focused too specifically on education and how it can increase political participation, but did not provide any theories as to how civic education may be lacking in encouraging youth to want to participate.
The most persuading factor of Hooghe’s (2004) article was how generational replacement was suggested throughout his writing to explain the decline of participation in politics among young members of society. Not only are they less civically engaged than other age groups, but also they are much less likely to participate than generations 20-30 years ago (Hooghe, 2004).
This information is crucial in understanding exactly how political socialization is changing. Lack of adolescent voters is blatantly more of a social dilemma today, considering older generations still had more young people participate in elections than generations now (Hooghe, 2004). Hooghe (2004) examines this phenomenon and concludes that political cynicism, lack of political interest, as well as less sense of civil obligation are reasons for low willingness of adolescents to vote.
He also suggests that structural social changes such as secularization, globalization or individuation can affect younger people more strongly if experienced in a more formative period of their lives (Hooghe, 2004). This has lead to a general distrustful attitude among adolescents in regards to political parties and fellow citizens making them more critical toward elections and other political institutions (Hooghe, 2004). To conclude, all three of the articles examined provided valid insights into how young people are affected by political socialization.
While the notions of Warren & Wicks (2011) in regards to family and peer relationships effect on political participation were accurate, the ideas were not expanded creatively enough to stress the main argument. Claes et al. (2009) made some critical connections between education systems and how community service and practical schooling can increase participation in politics more so than traditional methods. These connections were however too concentrated on education alone and did not explore what aspects of education could be contributing to the decline in youth political participation.
It was proven how the arguments presented by Hooghe (2004) overshadowed the other authors by explaining how generational replacement is relevant as well as exploring what aspects of political socialization lead to this decline. Hooghe (2004) not only discussed the points that Warren & Wicks (2011) and Claes et al. (2009) did, but he explained political socialization with a different much more perspicuous approach. These insights on how young people are socialized was much more two sided, making the dilemma of decreasing political participation much more comprehensible.