Influence of the family, civic education, community service, and individual factors on high school students' political socialization: Vertical and lateral political socialization approaches combined

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Secondary|Political Science, General




While a great deal of the research to date addresses the role parents, schools, peers, and the media play in adolescents political socialization, little of it has considered the role of the adolescent. Prior analyses tested theories that explained why one or another agent was more influential rather than how agents might successfully inspire democratic citizenship values in adolescents. Little is known about how adolescents relate what they see, hear and read to their existing knowledge, participation skills, interest, efficacy, and authoritarian or democratic attitudes. This dissertation develops and tests, using quantitative and qualitative data, a vertical-lateral theory of adolescent political socialization. Here values are not necessarily passed from one generation to another but the agents present to the adolescent various viewpoints, thus providing the adolescent a choice from among them. Consequently, adolescents are active participants in the political socialization process rather than simply products or "outcomes" of political socialization processes. A survey questionnaire with in-depth focus group interviews were combined and used to gain a comprehensive and contextual understanding of this aspect of adolescents' political socialization and development. ^