Class, Socialization, and Politics Essay

Class, Socialization, and Politics Essay

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Elections are at the core of the American political system. They are the way we choose our government, the source of government authority, and a means by which the people can influence public policy. For most Americans, voting is the only form of political participation. Essential questions to ask concerning these issues are: Who votes and why? What influences people to become voters? And what influences how they vote? It is important to approach these issues from a sociological standpoint addressing such matters as socialization and social stratification.

Socialization is a gradual process that takes place as we grow up. It is the process that aids in developing attitudes and opinions that allow us get along within a society. These beliefs affect the political views we hold later in life. Through social agencies such as family, schools, peers, and media we become aware of social rules and develop a social identity. (Introduction to Sociology Pg. 96) A product of this development is political socialization, which is the process of learning political attitudes and behaviors. The idea of political socialization helps in providing the answers to the questions concerning who votes. It aids in explaining how and why people participate in politics. The strongest agent in political socialization is the family. What this means is that most children adopt beliefs similar to those held by their parents. Therefore most people will believe in and vote for issues that are important to members of their family’s. The extent to which an individual is involved in the political process is shaped by his or her family’s level of involvement. For example, a child is less likely to vote if they are raised by parents who don’t regularly go to the polls on Election Day. Children of course, don’t always copy their parents’ political learning’s, but are often heavily influenced by them. As a result, most people end up favoring the political party that their parents generally identify with. Social Characteristics also affect how an individual will participate in politics. Whether a person is young or old, black or white, rich or poor, northerner or southerner will have a heavy impact on his or her political opinions and behavior.

Class may be just as important in shaping people’s political opinions and behaviors. The term social class refers to one of the systems of structured...

... middle of paper ...

...rank of middle class tend to have a much lower level of involvement in politics while those who rise above the line feel quite the opposite. Granted there will be deviant cases that can on some level disprove these theories. But on the grand scale, class remains as the supreme cause of such severe division among the attitudes expressed by the American people.


1.)     Hammond, John L. The Politics of Benevolence: Revival Religion and American Voting Behavior. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1979.

2.)     Doppelt, Jack C. and Shearer, Ellen. Non-Voters: America’s No Shows. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications Inc., 1999

3.)     Bailey Jr., Harry A. and Katz, Ellis. Ethnic Group Politics. Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, 1969.

4.)     Houtman, Dick. Class and Politics in Contemporary Social Science. New York: Walter de Gruyter Inc., 2003.

5.)     Catt, Helena. Voting Behavior: A Radical Critique. London: Leicester University Press, 1996.

6.)     Giddens, Anthony, Duneier, Mitchell, and Appelbaum, Richard P. Introduction to Sociology: Fourth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2003.

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