March 3, 2014
The effect of socialization on political preference in former communist states
Socialization is powerful thing it influences every single person on the planet from the day we are born to the day we die. The effect on things such as political alignment and government preference have been debated, how much does ones choice of political alignment have to do with things such as economic differences and how much are due to socialization. What effect does being raised in a communist country or post-communist countries have on these differences in political alignment? In their article titled Post Communist Legacies, Grigore Pop-Eleches and Joshua A. Tucker look to see what effects if any socialization has on being left or right wing inclined. In the article they found that there is a correlation to the type of environment individuals where raised in and their political preferences showing support for the role socialization has in these matters. As shown in the work of Elches and Tucker younger and more educated people in most of the rest of the world lean more towards the left of the political spectrum but in former communist countries of eastern and central Europe they are more inclined to be right wing (Pop-Elches 157).
The likely agents for this political socialization that we see in central and Eastern Europe are family, neighborhood, school and peer groups, and the workplace. As defined by James Henslin agents of socialization are “Individuals and groups that influence our orientations to life our self-concept, emotions, attitudes, and behavior are called Agents of Socialization” (Henslin 72) By growing up in societies with a communist form of government most of the older generations would have been socialized to communism and its positive elements. As demonstrated in this except “Being educated under communist rule leads—on average—to individuals developing a different set of political preferences from people who are not educated under communist rule.” (Pop-Elches 159) This contrast to the younger generation who would have grown up during the fall of communism and the era of post communism economic difficulties, these individuals would have a much more negative experience with that form of government and would be negatively socialized to it which is shown here “expect to find see a very different set of attitudes from citizens who came of age (i.e., were educated) under communist rule than those who did not” (Pop-Elches 160). The older generations who grew up under communism may also view the change to democracy as bringing about the social and economic problems many of the countries is faced post communism viewing democracy in a negative light. An interesting point is that the younger generation would have been positively socialized to communism from agents such as family and early school before the governments fell, while being negatively socialized to it through personal experiences and peer groups. This may also explain why they are more anti left wing than their fellow educated peers in places like the United States.
As we can see here socialization has an impact in fact a fairly large one on political alignment. People socialized to a form of government that is seen as substandard will likely align the opposite of that style than their peers in other countries who did not have the same experiences with it. Nonetheless politics are by nature unpredictable so we could easily see a change in a number of directions. We may also see a change back towards communism as the population ages just as we see here in America that as people age they tend to become more conservative and right wing then left wing, the opposite could happen in Eastern Europe.
Henslin, James M. Essentials of Sociology: A down to Earth Approach. N.p.: James M. Henslin, 2013. Print Pop-Eleches, Grigore, and Joshua A. Tucker. "Post-Communist Legacies And Political Behavior And Attitudes." Demokratizatsiya 20.2 (2012): 157-166. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.