The Formative Period of Party Identification: Parental Education in Childhood and Adolescence
20 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 31, 2010
Much of the research on political attitudes and political behavior, and on party identification in particular, has highlighted the importance of parental socialization. Views differ, however, on the causal process behind the intergenerational transmission of party identification and on the timing of effective parental education. This paper distinguishes two theories of the formative period of party identification: The early impression approach sees childhood as the impressionable phase of party identification; the social identity approach sees adolescence as the crucial phase of parental influence. German household panel data (SOEP) covering 26 years of annual measures of party identification support the social identity approach and cast doubts on the early impression approach. The party identification of the second generation during adulthood is more strongly affected by the parental party identification experienced during adolescence than during childhood. A similar conclusion follows from the intergenerational analysis of East German respondents: East Germans who were adolescents when they experienced their parents’ first party identification after reunification were more strongly affected by their parental role models in adulthood than those who were still children when confronted with these views.
Keywords: Party Identification, Socialization, Social Learning, Social Identity, Germany, Reunification
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