Political Socialization

934 words | 4 page(s)

The main political event that has an impact on the average American’s life is the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11 2011 (9/11). 9/11 is much broader than the World Trade Center, but the falling of the twin towers is illustrative of the destruction that happened that day. On the same day, ordinary Americans (and other passengers) on Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to bring the plane down before hitting the Pentagon. The symbolism of 9/11 clearly identifies the threat of terrorism to the American way of life (Denton, 4). This threat is an ingrained part of the average American’s psyche today. It has definitely had an impact on my life; in fact, it is one of the first political events that I remember. I recognize that a significant part of my understanding of terrorism, the Middle East and who poses a threat to the way of American life is linked to the events of 9/11. Thus, this paper will explore political socialization in the context of this event.

Political socialization is “the process by which a person acquires the necessary skills to function in the political world… Political socialization is learning the skills, knowledge and motivations necessary to these types of activities” (Denton, 131). This means that to a certain extent the learning will come from the political system that he/she lives in. Thus, the political leaders and media utilize this concept to mold the generations to follow their agenda. However, as the events surrounding the response to 9/11 illustrate such manipulation can have a negative effect.

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"Political Socialization".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

The potential threat from terrorism remains a real threat today, which means that the leaders of USA need to have a high level of vigilance. The perceived need for vigilance has allowed the government to become more invasive into individual rights, which are inked to fear of what may happen. This is an example of political socialization at play (Denton, 151). The role of political socialization is heavily linked to the media, which is fuelled by political belief (Denton, 151). The inference is that political agenda has to be closely linked to political agendas, which results in a specific viewpoint becoming the truth. For example, the Dossiers on Iraq, the arguments that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and tenuous links to Al Qaeda motivated the ill-founded invasion of Iraq after 9/11. The public support for this invasion was linked to public perception and socialization (Bardes, Shelly & Schmidt, 399).

Slogans, such as the ordinary Americans are the key to the defense of the USA, were also used to create vigilance (Bardes, Shelly & Schmidt, 399). The installation of fear is an important element of political socialization, but this distrust can create violence and hatred against individuals who are perceived to be a threat. This is a problem is that this agenda has backfired, because the negative effects of the war on terror have limited the American sense of freedom. Rather, patriotism is becoming less engaged with constitutional freedoms and more associated with the erosion of these rights (Denton, 152). The most important symbol of the USA (i.e. the Constitution) seems to be losing its impact in the current generation, which means that there generational effect of 9/11 will be all encompassing and may negatively affect the concept of American freedoms (Denton, 153).

The role of the media and political agenda has played a significant role in the current generation, because this has very much shaped how it views the safety of Americans and its relationship with the world. In recent years, there have been attempts to reconfigure the image of America’s relationship with the Middle East. Nevertheless, an underlying fear has been created by the political and media agenda, which cannot be countered by simply a few attempts to change the relationship. The Bush era is a clear example of political socialization (Denton, 6), which can be seen with his commentary on the axis of evil that was directed at unrelated states. The problem is that this propaganda, aimed at creating a “political socialization” agenda, has resulted in bringing these states together, in order to combat the negativity that has been levelled at them by the rhetoric in the Bush era (Glick, 2007). Thus, political socialization in the global era may have a far-reaching effect, because the nationalist propaganda is available for all to engage with. Consequently, there should be careful consideration of political socialization in general.

Political socialization clearly has an impact on the psyche of those that listen to the rhetoric. This has had an influence on my life, especially in the respect to the war on terror. However, as I have engaged with the materials further and become more educated on the subject, there is clearly a lot of misperception created. This misperception can be damaging for Arab and Muslim Americans that have no links whatsoever to terrorism. The rhetoric that the ordinary American should spy on internal threats (Bardes, Shelly & Schmidt, 399). In this sense, political socialization has been successful, because I am participating in political life. However, rather than being moulded by the perceptions of the media and the rhetoric of the Bush era, I am synthesizing my own belief system. This means that I am properly engaging with the political system; rather than merely being fed with propaganda. Thus, 9/11 has been my first experience of political socialization and remains the focus of my learning experience, even today.

  • Bardes, BA, Shelley, MC, Schmidt, SW American Government and Politics Today: The Essential Wadsworth. 2013. Print
  • Denton, RE Language, Symbols and the Media: Communication in the Aftermath of the World Trade Center Attack Transaction Publishers. 2006. Print
  • Glick, C. “Recognizing the Axis of Evil” Jurusalem Post Sep 18, 2007 Web.

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now