E-Political Socialization, the Press and Politics

The Media and Government in the USA, Europe and China

by Christ´l De Landtsheer (Volume editor) Russell Farnen (Volume editor) Daniel B. German (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 372 Pages
Open Access

Table Of Content

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Chapter 1

The Editors

Our lives increasingly are played out in an electronic world. The most recent Kaiser Family Foundation study of youth in America shows that the average amount of time spent with media is 10 hours and 45 minutes. This total includes multitasking (e.g., using more than one medium at a time). If one adds texting, the figure jumps to 12 hours and 20 minutes. That is more time than is spent sleeping, eating, and non-media school and face-to-face family-peer socializing. The 10 hours and 45minutes represent an increase of 3 hours and 16 minutes more than was found in the initial Kaiser study conducted in 1999. Between 2004 and 2009, iPod/MP3 player use went from 18% to 76%. Cell phone use went from 39% to 66%. We are moving toward life in a virtual non-face-to-face electronic world. Immediate implications can be seen in the Kaiser Family Foundation study. Heavy media users get poorer grades in school and, relevant to the socio-political world, are more likely to get into a lot of trouble. Minorities (blacks, and Hispanics) are more likely to be exposed to media; consequently, there is a digital divide. Print consumption, included in the overall figure, has declined while TV content has increased along with music/audio, computer, video games, and movies (Rideout, et al., 2010, pp. 2, 4, 10, 28; Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010, pp. 1-3).

Moreover, studies show that adults are moving in the same direction (German and Lally, 2007, pp. 338-339). Studies show that while adults are using the Internet and other computer related media, their TV consumption has also increased. What implications do these developments have for politics? Worries that virtual world consumption would result in lowered political involvement have not been borne out since voter turnout increased in the 2004 and 2008 US Presidential elections.

The nature of our news consumption has changed possibly for the worse. As newsprint declines and access to news moves online, the type of news we consume has changed. In a quality newspaper (such as The New York Times or Le Monde), editors/journalists select what goes on the front page and gets more public attention. On the computer, the top stories are not picked by professional media gatekeepers, but by an algorithm process which quantifies the number of hits each news item receives and moves the most frequently hit items to the top. In a sense, this process (e.g., employed by Google) democratizes the news by giving the general public control over topics that move to the top. But is this majority-based selection method the best way to decide what news is most important?

Majority rule without minority rights might be perceived as majority dictatorship. This is an outcome that democratic societies prevent by using all kinds of checks and balances. Letting the public move news stories to the top might just be the wrong way to determine what really is significant. Furthermore, the news ← 9 | 10 → popup (which appears when one clicks on a news item) is a very brief one-page summary, complete with advertising and other items. This is what people like. Those who run Google have found that it is what the public wants. It’s the news people want to access, not necessarily the news they need to be informed about as citizens. This gets to one of the conundrums of democracy which solves the problem of anything-goes majority rule with minority rights protection or any kind of sage input. And what about the preferred lack of depth?

This book examines the state of print and electronic media in the US, Europe, and China. The latest media developments, such as those mentioned previously, demonstrate that we are living in an increasingly media-centric world. The chapters included here represent theoretical and empirical studies that shed light on the meaning of this development. The trajectory of people’s move to electronic communication is a global phenomenon affecting people’s daily life throughout the world. Does this development aid or impede democracy? Is there an emerging “digital divide” contributing to an increasing gap between the rich and poor nations?

This book is divided into four parts that explore the various aspects of political socialization and its relationship with various media: Part 1 – Political Socialization Background (chapters 2 through 4); Part 2 – Media Use, Government, and Websites (chapters 5 through 8); Part 3 – The Print Press, Broadcasting, and Politics (chapters 9 through 12); and Part 4 – Critiques of the Emerging Virtual/Media World (chapters 13 through 17).

In Chapter 2, Daniel German looks at the basics of the political socialization process. Media, an agent of socialization, seems to edge out the traditional major socialization agency: the family. The trajectory of more media influence in the formation of our orientations toward society, government, community, and relations with other people are carefully monitored to ensure that we do not move in an unwanted direction, such as the destruction of democracy and/or positive social relationships. Inevitably, there is a lag between technology and the study of its effects, so the effort to chart these interrelationships is never finished. Technological change is not new. Witness the effects of the Gutenberg press and radio on communication. The history of communication technology is a steady increase of print and now electronic transmissions in our lives.

In Chapter 3, Heinz Sünker examines the influence of peer groups on the political socialization of youth. Traditional theories provided a pessimistic outlook for the future of successful political socialization. However, more recent explorations into youth and peer culture provide more hope for the future.

Chapter 4 examines the fundamental assumptions and criticisms from US reconceptualists and their current relevance. Some US critical theorists changed from a Marxist viewpoint to one of social democratic liberalism, with an emphasis on democratic, non-revolutionary reform. In this chapter, Russell Farnen focuses on the need for core processes that emphasize problem solving, decision making, ← 10 | 11 → policy analysis, and basic subject matter which discusses political theory, ideology, and systems that help students to both handle and explain their political worlds, regardless of country of origin. This chapter finds political and cognitive sciences, problem solving, socialization, and political education research to be both complementary and mutually reinforcing. American concerns focus on the overly complex nature of such interrelationships, but such studies are mutually productive and useful for future progress in the field.

In Chapter 5, Daniel German and Caitlin Lally document media use among children and adults to show that we are simultaneously moving from less print consumption to more electronic use (including more television, along with a dramatic increase in computer-related activities). In the wake of this development, a digital race-based and socio-economic divide appears to be emerging. Access to information, the computer’s promise of democratization, seems to be unequal. They ask, “Does living in a digital world result in a decline in social capital (face-to-face social mobilization)?” Perhaps we are losing ground in associational activities traditionally fundamental to democracy. Whether or not this is a reality seems to be mitigated by the relative salience of political issues which may or may not drive political involvement. In the face of more electronic media use, voter turnout increased in the US 2004 and 2008 elections. We will need to monitor this potential loss of social capital to determine whether or not this is a false conjecture.

In Chapter 6, Christ’l De Landtsheer assesses the quality of political websites. She examines party and public administration websites, personal websites for political leaders and administrators, and websites of non-governmental social and political organizations. By employing a coding scheme, De Landtsheer measures the “participation friendliness” of these websites and offers suggestions for building a qualitatively good political site.

In Chapter 7, Christ’l De Landtsheer, Natalya Krasnoboka, and Conny Neuner created an instrument to empirically evaluate websites. This survey instrument is a multifaceted methodology for measuring government websites, but it could easily be employed to examine private business websites as well. The authors examined websites in seven European nations and determined that the Netherlands has the most overall participation-friendly site and Poland the least friendly. Their scheme judges the transmission of information, the ease of interactivity, user friendliness (including links, search, and help functions), and site aesthetics. As more and more people enter the virtual world, governments should be interested in creating the most useable sites possible to better serve their citizens and create a more effective government.

Chapter 8 looks at how the Internet reinforces the incumbent political powers. In an empirical experiment, Henk Dekker and Arie in ‘t Veld demonstrate that instead of giving more groups access to people through websites, organizations with more money are able to create better websites that hold the interest of users. ← 11 | 12 → Consequently, the already powerful and financially well-heeled organizations gain access to the voter’s minds while the less fortunate drop out of sight.

Metaphors abound in press coverage of politics and politicians, who attempt to “frame” these metaphors to their advantage. For example, a press story might state that an administration has been hit by a “hurricane” and an administration official may state that we have weathered the hurricane and are returning to normal. The metaphorical frame gives the consumer a sense thatthings are not right or a perception that all is OK. In Chapter 9, Christ’l De Landtsheer and Elisabeth Koch suggest that Euroland nations’ press used positive metaphors (e.g., emotively and persuasively optimistic) to bolster public support for adopting the Euro currency. In comparison, non-Euroland nations’ press was relatively devoid of metaphors. A frame sets the stage for a positive, neutral, or negative view of a political issue and may influence its fate.

In Chapter 10, Marianne Law, Jerry Palmer, and David Middleton show how the United Kingdom press gave a more negative frame to adopting the Euro. This negative frame may have influenced public opinion against joining Euroland.

In Chapter 11, Natalya Krasnoboka and Christ’l De Landtsheer show how traditional media use relatively few metaphors in a crisis. In comparison, the newer online media use metaphors in more abundance in support of a revolutionary mood.

In Chapter 12, Vitaly Konzhukov shows how the Russian government ended the democratization period of print and electronic press following the end of the Soviet Union. The new Russian government resorted to economic deprivation, censorship, and “trumped up” criminal prosecutions to reign in newly developed print and broadcast (radio and television) media.

Several studies cast doubt on the idea of the media’s contributions to democracy. In Chapter 13, Russell Farnen notes that terrorists and media are like a “horse and carriage.” Writing before 9/11, Farnen states that our response to terrorism (which uses the media to convey its messages) mostly is violent. Our response to 9/11 was three wars: one in Afghanistan, another in Iraq, and a final “War on Terrorism” at home in the US and worldwide. He advocates a less violent response that looks at the causes of the terrorist act and examines ways to deal with the underlying problem without resorting to warfare.

In Chapter 14, Andy Koch argues that the Internet’s virtual world should not be a substitute for real-world involvement in politics. Contrary to providing a more democratic avenue for involvement in politics, virtual politics might have the opposite effect by making people lose interest in direct involvement.

In Chapter 15, Mary Hepburn is concerned that television - now combined with the Internet - creates a seductive electronic world. This electronic world encourages people to spend their time there. Hepburn finds this enchantment with the electronic world discourages people from getting involved in the real world of politics. Certainly, this development merits a very careful assessment, which is a primary mission of this book. ← 12 | 13 →

In Chapter 16, Daniel German and Dragan Stefanovic question the whole notion of electronic media’s dampening political involvement based on the rise of voter turnout in America’s 2004 and 2008 elections. Issues played a central role in this increased involvement. They theorize that the salience of issues may move participation up and down and not necessarily the lack of face-to-face relationships. This whole argument may not settle the question since US voter turnout in 2004 and 2008 may have been even greater than it was, being lowered by television and the Internet.

In Chapter 17, Yingfa Song and Hongna Miao examine the influence of the Internet on China’s government. The increased use of the Internet has heightened citizens’ interest in and capacity for political participation. While breaking down the traditional pyramid structure of Chinese society, the Internet has also formed a new bureaucracy and a widening digital gap. China’s quest for cyber democracy is hampered by this digital gap as well as the government’s strict control of the Internet’s content.


German, D. and C. Lally (2007). “A Profile of America’s Media Use and Political Socialization Effects: Television and the Internet’s Relationship to Social Connectedness in the USA,” pp. 327-344 in Policy Futures in Education, Volume 5, Number 3.

Kaiser Family Foundation (2010). “Daily Media Use Among Children and Teens Up Dramatically From Five Years Ago.” http://www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia012010nr.cfm.

Neuner, C. and C. De Landtsheer (2005). “Towards a Methodology for Evaluating the Quality of (Public) Websites.” http://internetjournals.net/journals/tir/2005/January/Paper%2008.pdf

Rideout, V., U. Foehr, and D. Roberts (2010). “Generation M2: Media In The Lives Of 8- To 18-Year-Olds” in A Kaiser Family Foundation Study, January 2010.

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Part 1
Political Socialization Background

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Chapter 2
Political Socialization Defined: Setting the Context

Daniel B. German

Professor (Emeritus) of Political Socialization, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA


Political socialization is the process by which orientations toward the political system are developed from one generation to another. These orientations include: 1) political knowledge; 2) opinions about specific political issues, deeper attitudes, and beliefs or values; and 3) behavior such as voting. All of the orientations shape an individual, depending on where the process takes place (e.g., in India, the United States, or South Africa). Other influences affecting the unfolding development of political orientations are agents of socialization, including family, media, region, education, ethnic or racial group, and gender. The process begins early in life and continues throughout the life cycle. Out of this process, a political culture which shapes the functioning of a particular political system is formed.


The systematic study of what we call scientifically today “political socialization” clearly began with Plato. In the 4th century BC, Plato wrote the Republic. In this book, he advocated education and training from early childhood on to develop guardians of the city state Athens. They must be devoted to the city and capable of overcoming temptations and witchcraft. These guardians must be strong; but unlike the disciplined and strong rulers of Sparta, they must not use their strength for purposes of tyranny and plunder. Plato advocated the creation of different roles for the city state. A farmer should be a farmer. A soldier should be a solider. An artisan should be an artisan. They each have a specific role and must be brought up (“socialized”) to fulfill a particular function. The soldier must not be surrounded by music or engaged in reading poetry, but instead must be trained in the art of warfare. One might clothe the farmer in glorious robes, but he will cease to be a farmer. Or one might let the potter drink and feast, but then they will cease to be potters. This means that a particular society (whether it is ancient Greece or Russia in the millennium) is the product of upbringing and education.

Knowledge is a product of the socialization process. The level of knowledge in a society has important implications for the development of what type of political system exists. A democratic government requires literacy for its citizens. Democracy could not have developed in ancient Greece without literacy because citizens had to read laws posted outside an assembly area and support or oppose them by direct vote. A critical feature of authoritarian (dictatorships, monarchies, warlords) political systems is to keep the mass of citizens semi-literate to illiterate. Many people in the world (even in the 21st century) do not receive enough ← 17 | 18 → education to be considered literate. How could you engage in politics if you do not understand what is going on? Studies of different types of political systems clearly demonstrate that a high level of educational achievement is associated with non-authoritarian political processes and vice versa. Literacy, however, while being an essential ingredient of free and open democratic political systems, is often not sufficient to the existence of democracy. The Third Reich under Adolf Hitler was as authoritarian as a political process can get, yet Germany at that time had nearly universal literacy. The same was true for the Soviet Union under the totalitarian rule of Joseph Stalin.

Combined with knowledge, a certain set of attitudes and values determines what kind of political system exists. The beliefs and values of a society are referred to as culture. Each nation has a political culture, which refers to its political values or political ways of doing things. In America, there is an acceptance by many (not all) of a kind of democratic creed composed of majority rule with minority rights, rule of law, free speech, and free and open elections. Thus, there is a consensus on the rules of the game played in American politics. In many other nations, this democratic creed is not a part of the typical way of doing things. Transparency International lists many nations in the world which are awash in corruption. There is a “take whatever you can get, by whatever means you can use to get it” philosophy. Fairness is not valued. In Russia, today as throughout its history, people value strong-man rule. Russians are socialized to prefer a strong leader due to a history of invasion, whether from the Mongols to the East or Europeans from the West. If a strong leader (whether Czar or Premier) subverts the election process, eliminates media opposition, and otherwise exerts an iron-handed rule, it is fine with the Russian people. In 2006, Russia was listed as 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 =low corruption), so it ranks high on corruption.

The US fell prey to corruption during the early 2000s. For example, lobbyist Jack Abramoff bribed members of Congress to pass legislation favorable to his business interests. However, in the 2006 elections, voters threw out of office the party primarily responsible for accepting bribes. Eliminating corruption was listed in polls as one of the primary reason voters gave for overturning the party in power in Congress. Americans consequently showed that they do not accept corruption in political parties and, instead, value a free and open process.

Knowledge, attitudes, and values are connected to political behavior. Studies show that an attitude of efficacy (which is the extent to which one feels that his/her involvement is politically effective or not) is highly associated with political participation. High efficacy is associated with education in democratic political systems; along with trust in the system, it is essential to popular involvement in political processes. If these attitudes fall to a very low level, it is dubious whether a democratic system could function; it might fall prey to an authoritarian or totalitarian alternative, which occurred in the history of Germany, France, Chile, Argentina, Thailand and other nations. ← 18 | 19 →

The Agents of Socialization

There are several factors which have an impact on political socialization. These include education, family, media/computer technology, gender, region, religious orientations, as well as life cycle and generations.


Education is a very strong predictor of a nation’s political culture. Wealth and investment in literacy was a primary ingredient of ancient Athens’ embrace of democracy. In examining the level of educational achievement worldwide, a relationship exists between the type of political system and many related sociopolitical variables. A popular mass-based educational system is associated with democratic political systems. Low educational achievement is related to authoritarian political systems. Many African, Asian, and Latin American nations do not have high levels of school attendance and rate very low in democratic assessments. On political rights measures, as an example of an undemocratic nation, Bangladesh rates poorly. It has state security laws that give undue power to the government. Demonstrations and street protests are met with excessive police force. Violence against women (including death and rape) are among other violations of civil rights. Freedom House, on a scale of 1.0 to 7.0, rates Bangladesh as a 4.0, which makes it only a partly free nation. The education system in Bangladesh has an abysmal record. A majority of children have never been to school.

By contrast, New Zealand, which was rated high in democratic processes, is rated as 1.0 (free) by the Freedom House; New Zealand has a strong record of guaranteed civil and political rights for all. Educational achievement is universal and compulsory to age 16 and free in state school until age 19. However, New Zealand has problems with its indigenous Maori population, not dissimilar to Australia’s aborigine citizens. Education, employment, income, health, housing, and treatment in the criminal justice system lag in comparison with the mainstream population. The Maori are about 15% of New Zealand’s population.

Following World War II, there was a great expansion in academic education in Western Europe. For example, in Germany, very few young people went to the academic track gymnasia and on to higher education. Many young people went to technical training schools and were in the workplace by age 16. Level of educational achievements in European nations was closely related to being chosen for political leadership, business ownership, officers in the military, and even being in the clergy. Broadening the education base through comprehensive schools for the masses and free attendance at the university (dependent upon admission) in Germany means more people are involved in all upper power and business echelons in society.

Studies show that students’ involvement in other aspects of the educational environment is strongly related to participation in politics. Extracurricular activities ← 19 | 20 → (ranging from student government, school newspaper, athletics, and even cheerleading) are predictors of later life political activity.


The nature of family life can have a profound effect on later political activity. A highly disciplined, rigidly patriarchal family structure can result in adherence to authoritarian political structure later in life. Studies show that a more authoritarian personality emerges. The authoritarian personality is intolerant of a diversity of ideas and experimentation with new concepts. It tends to be submissive to authority, obeying without question. Authoritarians tend to be intolerant of ethnic and social minorities. They are more militaristic than non-authoritarian personalities. Needless to say, the authoritarian personality is not conducive to the development of democracy. Asian and African families tend to be very strict with male-oriented decision making. It is said with at least some validity that communism in the People’s Republic of China is more compatible with the traditional Chinese Confucian culture with strict rule in everything from family life to government administration.

The effects of family influence (which is probably the paramount agent in the political socialization process throughout the world) can be clearly seen in political party affiliation studies in the US. Studies show that if both parents are of the same political party, chances are great that the children will also belong to that party. Other factors contribute to the successful passing of the party affiliation from parents to child. If politics is a salient topic at home and the offspring know what the parents think, there is more of a chance that not only political partly affiliation will be passed on, but also positions on highly visible issues. The occurrence of a politicized home atmosphere is declining possibly in America more so than anywhere else. With both parents working, parents simply don’t spend as much time with their children as they used to. Of great importance is the fact that households are not what they used to be. It is increasingly the case that all family members have their own television sets and they do not spend time with each other. Computers have added to the separation since children have their own personal computers. Television and computer consumption have both increased in American homes; therefore, family members spend more time using electronic communications systems instead of talking with each other. This pattern is affecting the transfer of political orientations from parent to child, resulting in an increase in independent party affiliation.

Family life is undoubtedly more close-knit in developing nations. But, politics may not be very salient in nations where there is not much of a tradition of popular political involvement. ← 20 | 21 →

Media/Computer Technology

Undoubtedly the media (particularly television and the general trend toward the use of information technology such as the Internet, instant messaging, and other forms of electronic communication) are not only transforming families, but people and nations in an emerging global world.

In Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam argues that a key ingredient of democracy is social capital. Social capital is the existence of a connectedness that citizens have to each other; it enables them to engage in social activities, including involvement in political associations. Drawing on the theory of Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America, 1835), who felt that a rich associational life in America sustained civic self-government, Putnam is concerned that too much use of media is resulting in an individual disconnectedness, much to the determent of democracy. He noticed that as television consumption goes up, associational involvement goes down. In fact, according to A.C. Neilson surveys, television use is increasing in America. Amazingly, while computer/Internet use is dramatically increasing, US households are watching more television.

The number of Internet users in America is increasing at a phenomenal rate. Under a quarter of households had Internet access in 1997. By 2006, this figure jumped to over two-thirds. As these figures rise, face-to-face social involvement declines. This, according to Putnam, is a tragedy for democracy, which thrives on a face-to face associational behavior. Certainly, the world of electronic communications is transforming the world as we have known it. Young people in America are now almost 100% using the personal computer and are consuming more and more television as well, thus changing the socialization process in ways which really need to be closely monitored.

In the developing world, the media are being harnessed to increase awareness and comprehension of democracy. In South Africa, for example, websites, newspapers, newsletters, television, and cyber cafes are being used to create a democratic community. While information technology is used to draw people in developing nations into political participation, it may be individualizing people in the developed nations into a virtual world and drawing them away from real-world participation. However, voter turnout in the US went up from around 50% in the 2004 presidential election to 60%, indicating perhaps that the increased emersion in information technology may not necessarily have dampened popular participation.

There are enormous variations in media relations between government and citizens throughout the world, ranging from government-owned and -censored to privately-owned, but -censored and, finally, to mostly or entirely privately-owned and free. Which of these circumstances exists in a country has enormous implications for the socialization process.

In totalitarian systems, media are an arm of the political party and serve as a means of propaganda. Under this system, the government owns the media and ← 21 | 22 → allows no criticism of government policy. In the socialization process from the earliest years on, there is no development of the idea of toleration of media-supported dissent typical of a democracy. Beginning in 2002, the organization Reporters Without Frontiers has evaluated press freedoms in most of the nations throughout the world. Totalitarian nations fared very poorly, with North Korea being the consistently worst ranked nation. There is no press freedom in North Korea. Criticism is banned and, if it occurs, the dissenters are sent to prison. Foreign media is kept out. The North Korean leader Kim Jong-il personally controls the press. “Uniformity” could be the word which best applies to the North Korean media. Dissenters sometimes are executed in public in North Korea to teach the people a lesson. There is no criticism of Kim Jong-il. During recent years of famine and starvation, especially for North Korean children, there was no mention of this disaster.

All of the worst-rated nations by Reporters Without Frontiers are located in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, with one exception: Cuba. All of the totalitarian nations (North Korea, Cuba, People’s Republic of China, Laos, and Vietnam) are at the bottom of the list. Next to North Korea is Turkmenistan (Asian), Eritrea (African), followed by Cuba (Latin American), Myanmar (Asian), People’s Republic of China (Asian), Iran (Middle Eastern), Saudi Arabia (Middle Eastern), and Ethiopia (Africa). The President of Turkmenistan (as an example of a very poor media environment) is willing to use violence, including torture to death, to quash journalistic dissent. In Eritrea, one might be secretly imprisoned. With a press milieu like this, there is obviously no chance for socialization toward the values of a free and open democratic political system.

The best press freedom nations are Northern European: Finland, Ireland, Iceland, and the Netherlands. They all share first place. In these nations, Reporters Without Frontiers found no censorship, government threats, intimidation, or physical action. Other top nations are all West and Central European in 2006, including the Czech Republic, Estonia, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Hungary. The United States in 2006 fell to53rd from 17th in 2002. In part, the US declined because of a trend of the federal courts to deny reporters the right not to reveal their sources. For example, this resulted in New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s imprisonment in 2005. These actions are undertaken in the “war on terror.” Reporters Without Frontiers points out that a Sudanese cameraman, Sami al-Haj working for Al-Jazeera, as another example, has been held since June 2002 at the Guantanamo US military base. Still, the US has a relatively free press.

When it comes to media and political socialization, it is important to examine the varied patterns of Internet use throughout the world. Younger generations are increasingly turning to the Internet for political information. There are dramatic variations in Internet access from one continent to another and within continents. The Internet is believed to be a possible boon to democracy since it gives access to information necessary to understand the political world and it could enable users to ← 22 | 23 → establish a website to obtain support for a political cause. The problem is that a worldwide digital divide may create an unequal playing field for those connected to the Internet and those not so advantaged. Internet World Stats shows that, indeed, Africa is particularly disadvantaged in this regard with less than 5% having access, compared to over two-thirds in North America and over 50% in European Union (EU) nations. Even within Europe, EU candidate nations only have a little above one-fifth of their population connected to the Internet. Within Africa, there are variations ranging from 10% access in South Africa (not high, albeit one of the most technologically advanced nations in Africa) to only 3% in Nigeria and less than 1% in Niger. In Asia, access is barely above 10%, with great diversity ranging from nearly 70% in Japan and South Korea (which are considered democracies) to below 10% in the People’s Republic of China and almost no access in North Korea (which are communist totalitarian nations). In India, which is considered a democracy, access is only around 5% with great variations, depending on where you live and level of income. In South America, Internet access is about 15% with variations ranging from a high of over 40% in Chile to about 4% in Paraguay. In the Middle East, the overall access level is 10%. Variations of Internet use are great with above 50% access in Israel to about one-third in the United Arab Emirate to only 1% in Yemen. As the world moves into a global information technology age, these variations might seriously diminish the ability of developing nations to keep children and adults abreast with the changing climate of education, business, politics, and life in general. It is worth noting that nations which are totalitarian and have had periods of, or are, authoritarian rule have low popular access to the Internet.


There are dramatic differences worldwide when it comes to the political status of women. Scandinavian nations have the highest percentage of women in legislatures. The figure is the highest in Sweden, where above 40% of parliamentary members are women. However, even in France, one of the birthplaces of popular rule, the figure is only about 11%, which is roughly comparable to the US. Women did not get to vote in France nationally until after World War II. Throughout the world, not only are women infrequently involved in elected office holding, but especially in developing nations, their status is quite poor. In a country like Nigeria, as an example, women face outright second-class status compared to men. Marital rape is not considered a crime in Nigeria. In Russia, where women fared better under communism, women are abused at home, discriminated against in the workplace, and young women often trafficked abroad (to Western Europe and the US) for prostitution.

Women’s opinions on political issues frequently differ extensively compared to men. Women are less approving of collateral damage (inadvertent killing of civilians) in war, less supportive of the death penalty, and more likely to support ← 23 | 24 → social services of all kinds. In this regard, women are said to be more nurturing. Both the differences in office holding and opinions are due to differences in the socialization process. Studies show that women engage less in aggressive sports and are less likely to be risk takers. Women engage more in non-combative social relationships with other women and are more prone to be kept at home. Young men engage much more in extreme sports, including riding motorcycles, sky diving, alpine skiing/snowboarding, football, hunting, and other high-risk endeavors to the point that they die in significantly higher numbers in their 20s than women. Consequently, women grow up less interested in the rough-and-tumble political world which includes warfare. They are much less likely than men to even try to get involved in politics. Women often do not run for political office, much less hold office.


Regional differences in socialization often produce variations in political orientations. Studies on the authoritarian personality conclude that the South in the US has more authoritarians, followed by the Mid-west, compared to the Northeast and West. It is clear that voting patterns relate to these differences, with conservative George W. Bush carrying the South and Mid-west in the 2004 presidential elections. In France, the provinces are notably more conservative than Paris.

Religious Orientations

Religious orientations are related to political opinions and behavior. The Jewish population is the most liberal in America. More orthodox religions, including the Jewish orthodox religion, produce more conservative political thought. The Islamic religion teaches women to play a more traditional role in society, including non-participation in politics.

Life Cycle and Generations

Two very important concepts in political socialization research are life cycle and generation. Life cycle refers to the development of political orientations over time, from birth to death. Studies conclude that political changes occur throughout the life cycle; however, generation can be critical to the development of political orientations that crystallize over time. In other words, one does not necessarily get more conservative over time as much as one becomes conservative or liberal early in life and experiences continuity over time.

Socialization begins in early childhood. Children younger than about age 10 to 11 are egocentric. They do not cognize the political world beyond themselves and their immediate family and perhaps an extended tribe if they are part of one. Young children think in concrete terms as opposed to abstract thought. They personalize political thinking, focusing on the police or president. At about age 10 or 11, ← 24 | 25 → children begin to cognize a broader world, including community and nation. They develop the ability to think beyond a person (such as a president, prime minister, or king) and develop a comprehension of process, such as elections and legislative activities. Children become sociocentric, understanding that they live in a society broader than just their family.

Two psychologists, Joseph Adelson and Robert P. O’Neil, asked children and adolescents aged 11 to 18 what the purpose of a law requiring vaccination would be. The 11-year-olds said that it would be to keep them from getting sick, whereas the 18-year olds stated that it would be to prevent an epidemic in society. When asked whether or not government should be able to take away a person’s property to build a road, the 11-year-olds said “no,” while the 18-year-olds were more likely to say that the individual should sell the property for the benefit of the community.

There is a primacy principle in the socialization process that what is learned early is learned best and structures later learning. Young children develop beliefs without a knowledge dimension. Later, adolescents begin to develop knowledge, but it is felt that there is a primacy principle. That is, early developed beliefs filter and shape knowledge learned later. For example, political party affiliations develop in very young children, but they cannot express what the parties stand for. They thereupon shift through information and accept information that supports their attachment to a prior-held orientation toward a political party.

As children get older, they develop knowledge about the political world. The socialization process appears to be largely over by about age 20 or 25. There would be enormous variations in this development depending on different educational opportunities. Attitudes, values, and beliefs persist and crystallize later in life. However, a period effect can alter political thinking. A dramatic political event (such as war or an economic depression) can cause later resocializtion.

Generation is a powerful political force. Political events occurring during the crucial socialization years of about age 10 or 11 to 20 shape new entrants into a political system. Research indicates that party affiliation and subsequent voter trends are affected by the circumstances existing during the pre-adult years. Children growing up in the American “Roaring 20s” in the US became more Republican in party identification than not and have stayed that way throughout life. Young people socialized during the Great Depression in America became Democrats and still largely vote for the Democrat party. One might speculate that Americans who were socialized from 1930 to 1940 (ages 10 to 20), which were years of economic adversity, were able to take the adversity of World War II more easily than some other generation.

Young people socialized during the Ronald Reagan years have been more Republican in political party affiliation. Those socialized during the Bill Clinton years are more liberal in opinion polls on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion; they are more likely to be affiliated with the Democrat party. ← 25 | 26 →

There would be variations on this process throughout the world. In nations with very little mass education and media penetration, generational socialization might be minimal since family and village would loom large as the major political input. Under these circumstances, new generational thinking could emerge, but it would be much slower over a long period of time unless some truly major event would rapidly have an impact on everyone.


Adelson, J. and R. O’Neil (1966). “Growth of Political Ideas in Adolescence: The Sense of Community,” pp. 295-306 in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 4.

Freedom House, http:www.freedomhouse.org

International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), http://www.idea.int/resources/

Internet World Stats, http://www.internetworldstats.com

Putnam, R. (2000). America’s Declining Social Capital. New York, NY: Simon & Shuster.

United Nations. daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/undoc/gen/G06/118/36/pdf/G0611836.pdf?OpenEl-ement

Reporters Without (Sans) Frontiers, http//en.rsf.org

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Chapter 3
Youth, Peer Culture, and Everyday Political Consciousness

Heinz Sünker

Professor of Social Pedagogy and Social Policy, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany


This chapter examines theories about the effects of peer culture on the political consciousness of youth. How youth are encouraged to become active participants in the political process is based on the influences of their peers as well as those of the family, their community, and the country’s society and government. Theories formulated by Horkheimer and Adorno in Germany’s fascist past are contrasted with those developed by more modern researchers who share a more positive viewpoint.


Horkheimer and Adorno (1997) argue in their famous chapter “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” in Dialectic of Enlightenment about a way which mediates questions of socialization and of the constitution of subjectivity. At first glance, their conclusion seems to be very dark with respect to the future of enlightenment and human subjectivity. There are only a few signs showing alternatives (i.e., the perspective of emancipation, liberation, and consciousness). But we must remember that even though their book was written during the dark period of German fascism, they also refer to the possibilities of bourgeois-capitalist societies.

Therefore it is useful to quote and comment on some of their arguments (all taken from Horkheimer and Adorno, 1997):

Consumers appear as statistics on research organization charts, and are divided by income groups into red, green, and blue areas; the technique is that used for any type of propaganda (p. 123).

What connoisseurs discuss as good or bad points serve only to perpetuate the semblance of competition and range of choice (p. 123).

The man with leisure has to accept what the culture manufacturers offer him. Kant’s formalism still expected a contribution from the individual, who was thought to relate the varied experiences of the senses to fundamental concepts; but industry robs the individual of his function (p. 124).

There is nothing left for the consumer to classify. Producers have done it for him (p. 125).

The might of industrial society is lodged in men’s minds. The entertainments manufacturers know that their products will be consumed with alertness even when the customer is distraught, for each of them is a model of the huge economic machinery which ← 27 | 28 → has always sustained the masses, whether at work or at leisure - which is akin to work (p. 127).

In the culture industry this imitation finally becomes absolute. Having ceased to be anything but style, it reveals the latter’s secret: obedience to the social hierarchy. Today aesthetic barbarity completes what has threatened the creations of the spirit since they were gathered together as culture and neutralized (p. 131).

And so the culture industry, the most rigid of all styles, proves to be the goal of liberalism, which is reproached for its lack of style (p. 131).

In the public voice of modern society accusations are seldom audible; if they are, the perceptive can already detect signs that the dissident will soon be reconciled (p. 132).

Not to conform means to be rendered powerless, economically and therefore spiritually - to be “self-employed.” When the outsider is excluded from the concern, he can only too easily be accused of incompetence. Whereas today in material production the mechanism of supply and demand is disintegrating, in the superstructure it still operates as a check in the rulers’ favor. The consumers are the workers and employees, the farmers and lower middle class. Capitalist production so confines them, body and soul, that they fall helpless victims to what is offered them. As naturally as the ruled always took the morality imposed upon them more seriously than did the rulers themselves, the deceived masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. Immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love to the common people for the wrong which is done them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities (p. 133).

The connoisseurs and the expert are despised for their pretentious claim to know better than the others, even though culture is democratic and distributes its privileges to all. In view of the ideological truce, the conformism of the buyers and the effrontery of the producers who supply them prevail. The result is a constant reproduction of the same thing (p. 134).

For only the universal triumph of the rhythm of mechanical production and reproduction promises that nothing changes, and nothing unsuitable will appear (p. 134).

But what is new is that the irreconcilable elements of culture, art and distraction are subordinated to one end and subsumed under one false formula: The totality of the culture industry. It consists of repetition (p. 136).

Business is their ideology. It is quite correct that the power of the culture industry resides in its identification with a manufactured need, and not in simple contrast to it, even if this contrast were one of complete power and complete powerlessness. Amusement under late capitalism is the prolongation of work. It is sought after as an escape from the mechanized work process, and to recruit strength in order to be able to cope with it again. But at the same time mechanization has such power over a man’s leisure and happiness, and so profoundly determines the manufacture images of the work process itself (p. 137).

No independent thinking must be expected from the audience: the product prescribes every reaction: not by its natural structure (which collapses under reflection), but by signals (p. 137).

The culture industry perpetually cheats its consumers of what it perpetually promises (p. 139).

The secret of aesthetic sublimation is its representation of fulfilment as a broken promise. The culture industry does not sublimate; it represses (p. 140). ← 28 | 29 →

There is laughter because there is nothing to laugh at. Laughter, whether conciliatory or terrible, always occurs when some fear passes. It indicates liberation either from physical danger or from the grip of logic. Conciliatory laughter is heard as the echo of an escape from power; the wrong kind overcomes fear by capitulating to the forces which are to be feared. It is the echo of power as something inescapable. Fun is a medicinal bath. The pleasure industry never fails to prescribe it. It makes laughter the instrument of the fraud practised on happiness (p. 140).

. . . but the necessity inherent in the system not to leave the customer alone, not for a moment to allow him any suspicion that resistance is possible (p. 141).

The principle dictates that he should be shown all his needs as capable of fulfilment, but that those needs should be so predetermined that he feels himself to be the eternal consumer, the object of the culture industry (p. 142).

Both escape and elopement are predesigned to lead back to the starting point. Pleasure promotes the resignation which it ought to help to forget (p. 142).

The stronger the positions of the culture industry become, the more summarily it can deal with consumers’ needs, producing them, controlling them, disciplining them, and even withdrawing amusement: no limits are set to cultural progress of this kind (p. 144).

The effrontery of the rhetorical question, “What do people want?” lies in the fact that it is addressed - as if to reflective individuals - to those very people who are deliberately to be deprived of this individuality. Even when the public does - exceptionally -rebel against the pleasure industry, all it can muster is that feeble resistance which that very industry has inculcated in it. Nevertheless, it has become increasingly difficult to keep people in this condition. The rate at which they are reduced to stupidity must not fall behind the rate at which their intelligence is increasing. In this age of statistics the masses are too sharp to identify themselves with the millionaire on the screen, and too slow-witted to ignore the law of the largest number. Ideology conceals itself in the calculation of probabilities (p. 144).

In either case they remain objects (p. 147).

The culture industry tends to make itself the embodiment of authoritative pronouncements, and thus the irrefutable prophet of the prevailing order (p. 147).

The new ideology has as its objects the world as such. It makes use of the worship of facts by no more than elevating a disagreeable existence into the world of facts in representing it meticulously. This transference makes existence itself a substitute for meaning and right (p. 148).

The enemy who is already defeated, the thinking individual, is the enemy fought (p. 149).

The attitude into which everybody is forced in order to give repeated proof of his moral suitability for this society reminds one of the boys who, during tribal initiation, go round in a circle with a stereotyped smile on their faces while the priest strikes them. Life in the late capitalist era is a constant initiation rite. Everyone must show that he wholly identifies himself with the power which is belaboring him (p. 153).

In the culture industry the individual is an illusion not merely because of the standardization of the means of production. He is tolerated only so long as his complete identification with the generality is unquestioned (p. 154).

In this way mass culture discloses the fictitious character of the “individual” in the bourgeois era, and is merely unjust in boasting on account of this dreary harmony of general and particular. The principle of individuality was always full of contradiction. ← 29 | 30 → Individuation has never really been achieved. Self-preservation in the shape of class has kept everyone at the stage of a mere species being. Every bourgeois characteristic, in spite of its deviation and indeed because of it, expressed the same thing: the harshness of the competitive society. The individual who supported society bore its disfiguring mark, seemingly free, he was actually the product of its economic and social apparatus (p. 155).

The most intimate reactions of human beings have been so thoroughly reified that the idea of anything specific to themselves now persists only as an utterly abstract notion: personality scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odor and emotions (p. 167).


On the one hand, this theme of “peer group and the political socialization of juveniles” is based on the subject that Krappmann (1983) so aptly presented in his article “Socialization in the Peer Group.” There he argued for the unquestionable contribution which the peer group makes in the development of one’s personal competence, activity, and identity. This is related to the actual significance of the peer group as part of the socialization process, comparable to the family with respect to its actual efficacy (Krappmann, 1983, p. 433). On the other hand, with regard to a basically socio-theoretical and socio-political reflexion, the theme is connected to questions about the forms and contents for integrating the rising generation into the emerging society. Considering its youth-theoretical, youth-sociological, and youth-political particularities, this question about integration indicates both the socio-theoretical genesis of and the socio-political value of analyzing the overall significance of juvenile peer groups. In its relevance to juvenile peer groups, the intergenerational paradigm – which directed the pedagogical and sociological center of interest in youth from Schleiermacher (1983) to Mannheim (1965) – intersects with a theoretical homogenization at the beginning and an emphasis on the theory of individuality at the end of this century (Sünker and Volkmer, 1990). Schleiermacher’s concepts are representations of the dialectics between “preserving and changing” on the socio-evolutionary level, while Mannheim’s contribution dealt with the theoretical context of modernizing social processes. With Thrasher’s (1927), Cohen’s (1986), and Salisbury’s (1962) publications, the perspectives of social integration and social control (which is guided by a theory of deviance when treating the topic of age-homogeneous groups of juveniles) are illustrated in the US discussion; for example:

The modern youth if . . . “youth” is understood as the developmental phase from . . . childhood up to adulthood is “antisocial” in a certain sense and to a certain degree as far as its behaviour is to be related to an intermediate stage which misses continuance and . . . goal orientation in order to be able to be social. This phase is characterized by the partly abrupt transition from the intimate relations of the small family to the deemotionalized relationships of the modern working world which are governed by rational and organizational measures. When the juvenile of our industrialized, bureaucratic society leaves the parental home he [/she] is confronted with social structures in which the behaviour ← 30 | 31 → acquired in the family is not appropriate any more. Thus, the research for behavioural structures can be realized as the basic need of the modern youth which is convenient for the “second level”’ which the juveniles need to get acquainted with. Furthermore in the course of this transitional phase on the one hand, a strong impulse to perform and to carry [one’s] weight and on the other hand a mental, intellectual and social liability converge which bear the possibility of a conflict with the environment having this constellation and by the omission of the behavioural support in the anonymous and deemotionalized structures of the large cities and the large-scale enterprise-like working world (Rausch, 1962, p. 146).

Peer Group and Socialization

Processes that distinguish between social development and youthful life can be described systematically and historically. For example, Eisenstadt (1965) focuses on the structural aspects of peer groups, while Habermas (1987) approaches the theme of “adolescent problems” from a socio-critical perspective.

In her article, “Peers and Political Socialization,” Silbiger (1977) hints at an analytical approach which reveals the problematic structure of this theme. It is remarkable that there are no immediately available proofs for (or answers to) questions about the relevance of peers in the field of political socialization. The authors of the newest German contribution on youth, peer groups, and politics also mention a lack of empirical research in this field. Therefore, we rely on Eisenstadt’s classical and basic representation of the meaning of age-homogeneous and age-heterogeneous groups in adolescence.

The “socialization” of persons (which ensues from, or breaks with, the principles of a common family life) relates to the important task each society and social system undertakes to assure continuity by replicating its own structures, norms, and values (Eisenstadt, 1965, p. 51). Accordingly, age-heterogeneous and age-homogeneous groups have the same function: “to be the instances of the socialization of the individual and the mechanism of the community in the social system” (Eisenstadt, 1965, pp. 60-61). Safeguarding continuity is no problem as long as the general society’s and the family’s systems closely correspond with each other. Problems arise if the transition from family principles to those of the external social structure is not conducted smoothly or if certain factors hinder the process for shaping universal relationships. Thus, “the transfer of identification and expansion of solidarity” (Eisenstadt, 1965, p. 67) as a basis for universalism (which mainly helps determine formal principles, in contrast to Eisenstadt’s view) is prevented. In this case, Eisenstadt adjusts age-homogeneous groups to the socially produced cleavages. Social dysfunctions which are established in the family lead Eisenstadt to claim “that from the perspective of the social system, the assignment of roles and the formation of groups are not less important on the basis of the homogeneous age than for the personality integration of the individual” (Eisenstadt, 1965, p. 72).

The range of political socialization is based on several considerations. Agehomogeneous groups form the mediating links between the principles of family life ← 31 | 32 → and those of the social system. That is, peer groups help complete the personality integration which the family cannot carry out any more. At the same time, they establish the individual’s social attitude via group socialization, which is necessary for the maintenance of the social system. In contrast to Eisenstadt’s exposition of the problem (at least as far as identity in adolescence is concerned and the question about the family’s achievement of socialization), Habermas’ (1987) “Theory of Communicative Action” delves into how the prevailing social system affects the family’s function as far as the social integration of youth is concerned. Thus, he concludes that the wilful rationalization of the real world is also evident in structural changes in the bourgeois family. Opposed to ignoring the effect of history on the changing social structure, he argues for the possibility “that by the equalized relational patterns of individual bahavioral manners and liberalized educational practices, a part of the rational potential that is [part of] communicative action is also released” (Habermas, 1987, p. 568).

The ambiguity of the social developmental processes which Habermas analyzes is essentially supported by the fact that the family’s private world is confronted by external economic and administrative factors “instead of being mediated by them from behind. In the case of the families and their environment, a polarization between communicatively structured and formally organized fields of action [is] observed which establishes the process of socialization under different conditions and which sets out a different type of risks” (Habermas, 1987, pp. 568-569).

The potential increase of communicated rationality in the family’ s private world directly leads to claimed (as well as susceptible) conditions of socialization which arise when we examine the so-called “adolescent problem.” This can be stated as follows:

If the imperatives of the system do not sneak into the family any longer, if they don’t settle down in systematically distorted communication, if they don’t intervene with the formation of the self inconspicuously, but come up to the family mysteriously from the outside, then there is a more lively formation of disparities between competence, attitudes and motives on the one hand, [and] functional pretensions of the adult’s role on the other hand. Problems arising from the dissociation from the family and development of one’s own identity critically tests adolescent development which is seldom secured institutionally in modern societies with respect to the ability of the preceding generation to effectively connect with the succeeding one (Habermas, 1987, pp. 569-570).

This functional rift does not offer a solution to how youth transition from the family’s socialization conditions to those they will encounter in external organizations as adults. Methodical and logical research is needed to reinterpret the current findings on peer groups in the life of today’ s juveniles.

Research Problems and Research Results

The basis of the problem of youth socialization is addressed in a wide range of approaches advanced in the Anglo-Saxon and German literature on youth research. ← 32 | 33 → Let us start with the premise that youth socialization involves trying to make sense of many contradicting socialization theories about class, race, and gender. Cohen (1986, p. 76) deals with these research problems by determining how real economic situations affect the analysis of imaginary relationships (i.e., the codes of reproduction). The latter “form the subject positions in which contradictions, separations, and breaks are experienced as their exact opposites, as the maintenance of clear-cut orientation patterns and stable identities” (Cohen, 1986, p. 78).

As a general basis for analysing juveniles’ political socialization processes, Hornstein (1989) describes and critiques the current tendencies used to research adolescents. “In contrast ... a research is desirable that keeps its eye on the whole relations of the life practice and the conditioning social relationships given therewith” (Hornstein, 1989, p. 122).

Habermas (1987) establishes the change of form in the problem of adolescence. Baethge (1986) investigates the structural change in the fields of juvenile experience (with respect to its social and individual meaning) as a transition from a product-oriented to a consumer-oriented paradigm of socialization. The consumer-oriented model is treated ambiguously as both hope and disaster in discussions about individualization (Baethge, 1986). They both relate to the latest statements about the political process of youthful socialization by labelling it “the liability in political securities of orientation” (Heitmeyer and Olk, 1990). Heitmeyer and Olk maintain that we must examine this ambiguity carefully because it is the foundation of basic social developmental processes. They also emphasize that the problem of analyzing juveniles’ political orientation conditions already exists at the interpretative level (i.e., how this behavior helps when processing economic-social and everyday experiences plus actual political problems). They also try to describe how the tense relationship which exists between youth and politics developed.

The relevant problem (in the context of our theme) is that the significance of peer groups for political socialization (in terms of political everyday consciousness) is ignored. From today’s viewpoint of political socialization (particularly for peer groups) theories, only restricted and valid propositions or research practices are considered relevant.

Statements about speculative or contradictory propositions relate only to ideas about research needs as Krappmann (1983) contends. The perceived lack of interactional studies indicates that there is a need for a socialization model that allows one “to estimate one’ s own contribution to social relationships among peers in respectively different phases of socialization” (Krappmann, 1983, p. 447). Furthermore, Krappman raises a significant question about the consequence of social developmental processes which explores peer groups’ quality as a relevant factor for socialization theory. A loss of this special quality of socialization has consequences for children’ s development as subjects who, themselves, are able to act (Krappmann, 1983, p. 462). ← 33 | 34 →

According to Krappmann (1983), the general framework for a research task that focuses on youth peer-group socialization must deal with the problems of age-groups with respect to politics. Girls’ participation in peer groups develops much like the socialization of their male counterparts. Ignoring the political dimension while considering girls, Mitterauer (1986, p. 244) sees the development of the informal group “as the most important social form of youth at the present time [and one considered] as an indication of same general tendencies” (Mitterauer, 1986, p. 236). He emphasizes the following:

Since the family has developed from an organizational form of work to a social form whose primary mutuality lies in the field of leisure, the family and the peer group became rivals, which they were not in the traditional society by any means. The family and the peer group do not compete only about temporal demands. A rivalry of the orientation of values which might have played a minor role historically, is also essential (28) Mitterauer (1986, p. 124).

In a “careful” argument, Hurrelmann (1985, p. 70) assumes that peer groups begin their socializing functions early in adolescence. The peer groups become identified as forms of social life that depend on leisure. They give their members full opportunities for participation. Thus, they allow one to gather experiences in social contexts which are perceived as being vitally relevant. However, they are prevented from doing so in other social fields of action:

“Most peer groups organize themselves outside the systems of family and education and take it for granted that they are not adult initiated, guided and controlled” (Hurrelmann, 1985, p. 70). From this, the authors reason that peer groups have the potential

to become the dominating field of orientation and action in adolescence if this result is directed by juvenile life-situations and interest orientations. Thus, the peer group, whose spectrum ranges from spontaneously formed cliques up to tight social groups such as ‘juvenile gangs,’ is to be considered an important instance of socialization in adolescence (Hurrelmann, 1985, p. 71).

Additionally, the leading researcher on “socialization of youth” develops his hypothesis in a similar direction:

There is an increased chance, within the age cohort, because of this lost control by adults, for the growth of behavioral patterns which differ from the postulated norms set by parents, educators or the law. This development would not increase young peoples’ sense of insecurity. Therefore, age homogeneous relationships produce both protection and a balance for the influence of large social units. At the same time they are an important part of youth socialization that may ease and encourage the transition to adulthood (Wurzbacher, 1978, p. 34).

Moreover, Wurzbacher links this general assessment of the importance of the peer group for youth development with his hypothesis about relationships between ← 34 | 35 → organized groups and processes of activating, selecting, and educating “socially active personalities:” “The analysis of biographies of socially active adults leads to the hypothesis that the readiness to engage in the public field, in organs of self-administration, in politics, in civic action groups, in associations, etc. develops according to how a particular person belongs to a juvenile group and, in whose confines, he could become acquainted with social activities and conduct and could practice them” (Wurzbacher, 1978, p. 49).

Political Consciousness, Way of Life, and Adolescent Cultures

Wurzbacher’s (1978) limited approach is quite different from those who exclude the dimensions of political socialization either implicitly or explicitly and from those who favour more research in this field. By contrast, Schulze (1977, p. 9) tries to come up with the “latent” conditions of political socialization in his empirical investigation of “Political Learning in Routine Experience” in order to split the relationship between readiness for political activities and everyday reality in adolescence. The target of his investigation is restrictive. Nevertheless, it is interesting for us to consider selected parts of his work and the relevant outcomes and results, especially since his approach and results point to specific difficulties for research in this opaque field.

For Schulze, the leading question is “how the different instances of socialization [the family, the educational system, and peer groups] interact with respect to the political process of activating, in which way therefore, different manifest constellations of conditions cause different manifestations of the readiness for political activity in the three interactional fields” (Schulze, 1977, p. 109). His clear result lies in his estimation that all instances of socialization are manifestly efficient; however, they do not reveal any rank order in this efficacy:

The results indicate that there is no instance of socialization whose manifest political impulses do not touch the juvenile. For the family, the educational system, and age-homogeneous groups, each instance explains a substantial part of the variance concerning the readiness for political activity if the latent influences of socialization and the manifest influences of the two respectively different areas are controlled (Schulze, 1977, p. 110).

However, Schulze’s more general estimation is more decisive for our question about the possible constitutional conditions of political everyday consciousness. According to his assessment, the orientations which juveniles acquire via their immediate everyday relations influence their orientations toward the political field: “Political conformity or non-conformity is partly learned by ‘non-political’ communication” (Schulze, 1977, p. 143). For the political quality in socialization processes, the politicization of everyday experiences is meaningful because

the fewer juveniles who are confronted with the political area with respect to their common interaction (process of activation) the less they realize the democratic content ← 35 | 36 → of problems in such situations. Political experiences do not work only (cognitively) as a stimulus for development of the ability to perceive structurally but also (normatively) as conditions for the formation of pro-democratic values. Foremost, both components together constitute sensitivity for democratic problems (Schulze, 1977, p. 146).

The critical problem for political activation of common experiences in adolescence is clearly recorded in this ambiguous characterization. Perhaps it can only be solved by comparing two texts which are based on pure research. From a critical cultural perspective, Claussen (1993) argues for continuities in “the authoritative social character” in his consideration of juvenile political socialization processes. At the start, he describes a “rather confusing picture” (Claussen, 1993, p. 533) with respect to the relevant findings and theoretical material in this field of juvenile political socialization. He presents the following result:

All this culminates in political everyday consciousness which absorbs the pattern of acting and thinking that was found as being appropriate for the consideration of politics in earlier family life situations and that mobilizes natural-like ontological, personal, utopian and fossilized-philosophical structures of thinking or social images. With its help, the nature and appearance of the political normally remains inscrutable and affirmatively confirmed in social world-constellations (Claussen, 1993, p. 532).

In contrast to this, Baacke (1987) argues from a position that is culturally optimistic in his characterization and interpretation of “Youth and Adolescent Cultures.” His theme is that the formation of adolescent cultures is “also a new variation of the self-assertion of individuality. The brilliant aesthetic [. . . ] is not ‘from the inside’ but rather culturally productive forces which break through mechanisms of commercialization/comodification” (Baacke, 1987, p. 534). For him, it is crucial that youth cultures respond to a common cultural problem. That is to explain “how individuality is to be preserved (in view of the prevalent socialization of personal biographies and life-chances), what subject it is there that wants there to say ‘I’” (Baacke, 1987, p. 201). The resistance (that is both subjectively and theoretically motivated) in youth cultures (whose constitution contains classical problems about the peer group and simultaneously is freed from a functional perspective) is confronted with views that are based on the forfeiture, decline, or decay of history (Baacke, 1987, p. 33).

Since these two models/positions react negate each other, we need to look into the development of research investigations. They break down the socio-theoretical and socio-political framework that we are concerned with here and try to use relevant contributions from Anglo-Saxon peer group research. Appropriate considerations and research results are discussed in terms such as “child development,” “human development,” and “moral development.” These are mainly focused on topics regarding the extension of mother-child-centering and problems of the complementary influence of parents and peers on the development of adolescent values and attitudes. The main problem remaining is the generalization of research outcomes. ← 36 | 37 → It is necessary not only to supplement political dimensions and possibilities in this respect, but also to acknowledge their structuring effects.

Back to the Roots: Socialization, Contradiction and Consciousness

Horkheimer and Adorno (1997, pp. 144-145) question if – and for how long – consumer capitalism would be able to keep the people in a condition of alienation and domination. This question is also considered in an American and British study, described by Phil Wexler’s (1990) “holy sparks” and Paul Willis’ (1991) “common culture.”

Wexler deals with the classical problem of critical theory: “the major hegemonic tendency, which is not simply social rationalization but intensified monetization of dynamic connections among all social relations and bonds and their formation as commodities” (Wexler, 1990, p. 160). He is interested in the dialectic of the intensification of control and pathologies and in individual awareness and a sense of life’s possibilities and choice.

His “emergency exit” – with respect to social control and liberation – is the use and analysis of the process of “resacralization.” He argues that this so-called “religious transference” reopens “an intersubjectivity that has been socially emptied in the institutional rationalization process managed by class-differentiated, defensive selves.” He adds: “The religious transference facilitates trust and, therefore, social interaction or intersubjectivity.” Wexler focuses on the processes of mutual recognition and a concept of the dialogue (much like the German discourse on “Bildung” or education) (Sünker, 2006).

The “creative potentials of self-transformation and resacralization” could be used against the culture of consumption in a new cultural trajectory which is also based on educational tasks. Promoting processes of self-transforming – within an understanding of teaching as redemption – is the challenge here.

Willis’ (1990) approach centers around the sentence: “We are all cultural ‘producers’ and the idea that we have to see all human beings as ‘full creative citizens’ and not as lumps of labor power.” Especially as regards youth, he is interested in the “vibrant symbolic life and symbolic creativity in everyday life” (Willis, 1990). The everyday life is his vantage point for analysing social action, processes of “the formation and reproduction of collective and individual identities” (Willis, 1990). A pertinent result of his analysis is to acknowledge that the “tasks of symbolic work and creativity may include not only the attempt to retain identity in the face of the erosion of traditional value system but also to forge new resistant, resilient and independent ones to survive in and find alternatives to the impoverished roles proffered by modern state bureaucracies and rationalized industry” (Willis, 1990). He is also interested in the dialectic of consumption: “consumerism has to be understood as an active, not a passive, process” (Willis, 1990). He raises the question of the possibility of creative consumption. “We are interested to explore how far ‘meanings’ and ‘effects’ can change quite decisively according to the social contexts of ← 37 | 38 → ‘consumption,’ to different kinds of ‘de-coding’ and worked on by different forms of symbolic work and creativity” (Willis, 1990). One of the potentials of cultural modernization could be the establishment of “proto-communities” based on some common interests supplying “some of the preconditions for both the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ politics” (Willis, 1990).

Wexler and Willis agree about emphasizing the new role of senses and the body, of energy as human power. While Wexler refers to religion and creativity, Willis refers to everyday cultural activities and creativity. Both approach a politics of meanings and identity, especially in relation to questions about youth and peer culture.

To observe societal relations (for an individual or an age group and society) and their consequences, one must first determine the consequences of the capitalist mode of socialization. Generally, it is about the contradiction connected with the socialization pattern between the production and the destruction of the social; sociality comprises a well-known reason for actual debates between communitarians and liberals. We believe that the contradiction between production and destruction of sociability is a reason to consider segmentation when discussing the development of societally made potential for both power/domination and emancipation/consciousness. Against Horkheimer and Adorno’s (1997) more pessimistic view of world history, the contributions in the field of peer culture – and especially in the field of social analysis – and youth show reasons to hope for a better human future.


Baacke, D. (1987). Jugend und Jugendkulturen. Darstellung und Deutung. Weinheim and München, Germany: Juventa.

Baethge, M. (1986). “Individualisierung als Hoffnung und als Verhängnis,” pp. 28-123 in R. Lindner and H.-H. Wiebe (eds.) Verborgen im Licht: Neues zur Jugendfrage. Hamburg, Germany: Europ Verlag.

Claussen, B. (1993). “Jugend und Politik,” pp. 527-541 in H.-H. Krüger (ed.) Handbuch der Jugendforschung, 2nd edition., p. 527-541. Opladen, Germany: Leske & Budrich.

Cohen, P. (1986). “Die Jugendfrage neu denken,” pp. 22-97 in R. Lindner and H.-H. Wiebe (eds.) Verborgen im Licht. Neues zur Jugendfrage. Hamburg, Germany: Europ Verlag.

Eisenstadt, S. (1965). “Altersgruppen und Sozialstruktur,” pp. 49-81 in L. Friedeburg Jugend in der modernen Gesellschaft. Köln, Germany: Kiepenheuer & Witsch.

Habermas, J. (1987). Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns. Vol. 2, Zur Kritik der funktionalistischen Vernunft, 4th edition. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Suhrkamp.

Heitmeyer, W. and T. Olk (1990). “Jugend und Politik. Chancen und Belastungen der Labilisierung politischer Orientierungssicherheiten,” pp. 195-217 in W. Heitmeyer and T. Olk (eds.) Individualisierung von Jugend. Weinheim and München, Germany: Juventa.

Horkheimer, M. and T. Adorno (1997). Dialectic of Enlightenment. (Translated by J. Cumming. New York, NY: Continuum. ← 38 | 39 →

Hornstein, W. (1989). “Auf der Suche nach Neuorientierung: Jugendforschung zwischen Ästhetisierung und neuen Formen politischer Thematisierung der Jugend,” pp. 107-125 in Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, Vol. 35.

Hurrelmann, K. (1985). Lebensphase Jugend. Eine Einführung in die soziawissenschaftliche Jugendforschung, p. 70. Weinheim and München, Germany: Juventa

Krappmann, L. (1983). “Sozialisation in der Gruppe der Gleichaltrigen,” pp. 443-368 in H. Hurrelmann and D. Dietrich (eds.) Handbuch der Sozialisationsforschung, Sonderausgabe p. 443-468. Weinheim, German and Basel, Switzerland: Beltz.

Mannheim, K. (1965) “Das Problem der Generationen,” pp. 23-48 in L. v. Friedeburg (ed.) Jugend in der modernen Gesellschaft. Köln, Germany: Kiepenheuer & Witsch.

Mitterauer, M. (1986). Sozialgeschichte der Jugend. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Suhrkamp.

Rausch, R. (1962) “Gefährdete und gefährlich Jugend,” pp. 146-150 in H. Salisbury Die zerrüttete Generation. Reinbek, Germany: Rowohlt.

Salisbury, H. (1962). Die zerrüttete Generation. Reinbek, Germany: Rowohlt.

Schleiermacher, F. (1983). Pädagogische Schriften I. Die Vorlesung aus dem Jahre 1826. Frankfurt/ Main, Germany: Suhrkamp.

Schulze, G. (1977). Politisches Lernen in der Alltagserfahrung: Eine empirische Analyse. München, Germany: Juventa.

Silbiger, S. (1977). “Peers and Political Socialization,” pp. 172-189 in S. Renshon (ed.) Handbook of Political Socialization. Theory and Research, p. 172-18. New York, NY: Free Press.

Sünker, H. (2006). Politics,Bildung, and Social Justice: Perspectives for a Democratic Society. Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Sense Publisher.

Sünker, H. And I. Volkmer (1990). “Jugendkulturen und Individualisierung,” pp. 61-79 in W. Heitmeyer and T. Olk (eds.) Individualisierung von Jugend. Weinheim and München, Germany: Juventa.

Thrasher, F. (1927). The Gang. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Wexler, P. (1990). Social Analysis of Education: After the New Sociology. New York, NY and London, UK: Routledge.

Willis, P. (1990). Common Culture. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press.

Willis, P. (1991). Jugend-Stile: Zur Ästhetik der gemeinsamen Kultur. Hamburg, Germany: Argument-Verlag.

Wurzbacher, G. (1978). “Gesellungsformen der Jugend in der Bundesrepublik – Hypothesen über Strukturen und Sozialisationswirkungen,” pp. 28-52 in H. Reimann and H. Reimann (eds.) Die Jugend. 2nd edition. Olpaden, Germany: Leske & Budrich.

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Chapter 4
Politics, Education, and Paradigmatic Reconceptualism: US Critical Theory in the 1990s

Russell F. Farnen

Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA


Within the general context of the US educational “system,” this contribution answers three questions: What are some of the recent and significant trends in critical social science or radical educational theory on social structure, culture, and individual or group behavior? Do these trends (such as ethnographic research and everyday politics) coincide with any current developments in the United States in the domains of political science, socialization, and education? Is there any prospect that critical educational studies will have a significant impact on curriculum, research, or theoretical formulations in American political science, education, and/or socialization? The chapter ends with a discussion of such trends and relevant conclusions stemming from them. In this chapter, “critical” educational theory refers to a diverse group of radical democratic, new left, neo-Marxist, and reconceptualist critics of both classic and social “liberal” and “neoconservative” concepts of schooling (that is, opposed to those espousing what Tomas Englund describes as their “patriarchal” and “scientific/rational” discourses on education).

The American Educational Scene: Current Contexts

Just how conservative is contemporary American political culture and how much influence does business have over US schools? Presently, the US is in the midst of yet another educational “revolution,” revolving around the development of a national curriculum (Smith, O’Day, and Cohen, Winter 1990). This effort will be enforced with a large measure of nationwide testing and performance “report cards” (the original fear many of those involved had when the National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] began work in the mid-1960s; Anderson, et al., April 1990). However, this has been delayed by the relatively innocuous amounts (less than 1% of total costs) regularly allocated for federal educational funding. The US also enjoyed the beneficence of a chief executive who had pledged to be the “education President.” His aim was to make America “number one” in science, math, and other business-directed processes, such as writing and reading skills. Luckily (or unfortunately, with respect to proper funding and public prominence) for political educators, he had not targeted the civic education curriculum for top-down reform. The administration focused on geography and history revisions, which it considered more “solid” subjects than social studies and civics – a trend common to conservative regimes in the UK, Finland, Canada, and within several American states, such as California. ← 41 | 42 →

America’s conservative climate is also illustrated in popular and administration views on education, achievement testing, and business” role in the schools. It is also evident in the current euphoria about history teaching and unitary notions about CIVITAS, the US Constitution, and calls for education for (historical, not contemporary) democracy. For example, President Bush’s “America 2000” educational reform proposals aimed for state and local implementation of conservative programs (such as “core competencies,” “literacy,” educational “choice,” “flexibility,” “accountability,” and “uniform” national testing). Bush proposed to identify 535 “New American Schools” for reform; this was less than 1% of the nation’s 110,000 schools. He also wanted business to “reinvent the American school” so he could “unleash American genius” to redesign them. He also advised educational innovators to ignore “all traditional assumptions about schooling and all the constraints that conventional schools work under.” However, this was not supposed to cost any more federal money. Optimistically, he hoped that “By the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn” (Tirozzi, May 19, 1991).

The elite’s emphasis in US national educational goals is on science and mathematics achievement. Other competencies in more challenging subject matter (including English, history, and geography instruction, where the abilities “to reason, solve problems, apply knowledge, write, and communicate effectively”) are also targeted. The NAEP now publishes its “content frameworks” and “proficiency standards” in these areas. A national curriculum and testing program would be based on NAEP standards, with state-by-state “report cards.” The current debate is about creating a national educational model (based on ones from Japan or France or states such as California). Even American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union leaders support a competency-based, confidence-producing, national curriculum. Important issues (such as whose goals, whose curriculum materials, accountable to whom, with what flexibility, with what implications for teaching, and under whose governance?) are only now being discussed.

At issue is the continuing existence of pluralistic (public and private) and democratic (local and state) control over educational decision making in the society. The need to dismantle certain existing educational bureaucracies in states and municipalities is being debated. New public agencies may have to be created to devise frameworks; to develop, revise, monitor, and coordinate standards; to produce models; and to both monitor and report findings. Also discussed is the fact that nationwide standards and tests will prompt teaching for them either directly or by rigid adherence to a curriculum blueprint.

Such blueprints endorse certain pedagogical and educational values plus descriptions of what is to be learned. For example, the California history/social science framework ignores the social studies perspective, favoring the historical approach, corresponding with the national trend. The role of exams in any new system will be critical. Paper and pencil, essay, and multiple-choice exams are not ← 42 | 43 → the only available options. Experience with more “authentic” testing formats (in the UK, the Netherlands, and some US states) produced new evaluation formats. These tests measure abilities other than mere factual recall. Open-ended questions evaluate problem solving, data analysis, analytic writing, creative tasks, experimentation, and speaking proficiency. However, the old problems of how to make such tests, how to report results, and how to rank students, teachers, and systems on their results (as well as built-in antiminority biases) are only a few examples of attendant, but seldom-debated, long-term testing conundrums. (For a more complete analysis of America’s educational climate, see Farnen, October 1991.)

The Left/Right versus Center Debate

According to Aronowitz and Giroux (1985), these rightist critics have misdiagnosed America’s ills, provided the wrong solutions, and wrongly blamed education for current social ills. Schools are not responsible for high unemployment, stagnant productivity, foreign competition, deficit financing, and the growing gap between rich and poor. Even the solutions proposed are irrelevant since the kind of polarized, service-oriented, and unskilled society of America-in-the-making has nothing to do with the conservative educational plan. With America near federal budgetary bankruptcy because of its deficit financing of huge and wasteful military expenditures ($3 trillion from 1980 to 1990), the current educational crisis is as much a cause of local and state impoverishment and shrinking resources as it is a result of philosophical and organizational confusion. The New Right’s nostrums for business control of education belie the ethical and public mission of the school as a site for learning about civic participation, social reconstruction, and moral purpose. With their focus on economic goals, conservatives gloss over the schools as arenas for class conflict, sites for lower-class failure, and evidence of the failure of consensus politics. Rightists thereby destroy the moral and political basis for public schooling. Without a democratizing mission, popular support and financing for public schools is at risk. A new public philosophy of education (based on a theory of democratic citizenship education for individual and group empowerment) is needed to provide the necessary antidote for rightist’s poisoning of the American educational wells (Farnen, October 1991, pp. 201-206).

The Political Economy of Education: Carnoy’s and Levin’s Perspectives

Carnoy and Levin analyzed recent educational developments in the US along with changing national demographics and productive capacities. They assert that there are still strong conflicts between the capitalist/reproductive and the democratic/egalitarian dynamics in US society. One example of a social policy time bomb is the fact that more reproductive minority populations now constitute nearly half of the school population in certain states (such as California). Also, at least one-third (a growing number) of the pre-collegiate school population is ← 43 | 44 → disadvantaged because of racial, recent immigration, or class factors. Such statistics indicate the existence of a new underclass that is ill-prepared for the demands of work life and a group which state and business interests cannot long ignore in terms of providing either more social justice, equity, and/or equal access to schooling (Carnoy and Levin, 1986, pp. 44-45).

Carnoy and Levin also categorize reconceptual analysts of schooling into autonomous and functionalist varieties which, respectively, assume that schools operate separately from the economy and society (for example, Dewey, Bourdieu, Apple, and Giroux) and those who stress education as producing “human capital,” thereby reproducing class relations in correspondence with society’s economic and social needs (for example, Carnoy, Levin, Bowles, and Gintis). The critical autonomy analysts also see workplace culture reflected in the school curriculum and ideology; however, they insist that schooling is independent of economic production and, therefore, creates values apart from the rest of society. The critical functionalists stress correspondence and reproduction; yet, they differ over ideas (such as the nature and purpose of man, society, and government as well as the meaning of progress) and simultaneously dismiss observed differences between schooling and society as trivial. Carnoy and Levin claim a paradoxical relationship between schooling and work in that they are both alike and different. Schooling makes a difference because “formal education is the principal source not only of values and norms among youth but also of skills and practices of production.” Yet “neither the practices nor the outcomes of schooling correspond directly to the structures and practices of work” (Carnoy and Levin, 1986, p. 37).

The social conflict dynamic pits democratic forces operating through the state to increase the pace of social change, workplace equality, economic security, and participation in decision making. The same forces are at odds in the schools, where the power of competing groups determines which way the balance (capitalist or democratic) will swing. The influence of capitalist production and class conflict is expressed in the hegemonic bourgeois state. Yet, the modern state also plays an important interventionist role in the production process, just as it does in the schools. Education is “responsible for justice and equity in an inherently unjust and inequitable system of production.” Education’s role is to reproduce inequality while trying to produce equality, thereby creating ideological conflicts over status, property, and power. Since such institutional conflict is system-wide, education can influence (and be influenced by) other social institutions operating under the force of capital accumulation (Carnoy and Levin, 1986, pp. 38-40).

Although democratic schools must prepare citizens for their life roles, teaching students about equal opportunity, human rights, civil liberties, participation, and the law is in direct conflict with job-related “skills and personality characteristics that enable them to function in an authoritarian work regime. This requires a negation of the very political rights that make for good citizens” (Carnoy and Levin, 1986, p. 41). Strong, social movements can influence the trend toward equal rights and ← 44 | 45 → opportunities; weak, business interests can predominate by stressing reproduction roles and inequalities. Periods of economic expansion and relative prosperity allow social groups to exert greater influence than do periods of contraction or retrenchment (such as during the 1990s). During the 1980s (and 1990s), education reforms proposed more competition, rigor, excellence, standards, and basic skills as well as improved teacher training, testing, merit pay, longer school schedules, homework, efficiency, and productivity. Gone were the previous emphases on “equity, equality, and access” as well as compensatory education for the disadvantaged, learning-disabled, bilingual, or minority students. Vouchers, tax credits, market competition, aid to private schools, tax reductions, high-tech education, and computer skills were proposed to end previous democratic reforms. Efficiency, competition, discipline, skills, standards, and better management became the new watchwords for the Reagan and Bush years of educational retrenchment and hegemonic control over schooling (Carnoy and Levin, 1986, pp. 41-45).

The Need for a Theory of the State: Macpherson

Critical social scientists” continual emphasis on the state’s key role in the production and education sectors led political scientists such as Macpherson (1977) to both raise the question of the need to go beyond the explanation of political processes to the question of the need for a revised theory of the state in the “grand” classical tradition of great theorists like Bodin, Hobbes, or Hegel. Macpherson reported that the 1970s crop of liberal democrats and empirical and normative theorists said we do not, while social democrats and Marxists said we do. His earlier treatment of “contemporary Marxist lessons for liberal-democratic theory” is still instructive. He proposed that “there is a lot to learn from them. For they do see more clearly than most others that what has to be examined is the relation of the state to bourgeois society, and they are examining it in depth.” This is quite unlike liberal theory which unquestionably accepted both the bourgeois state and society as a single package (Macpherson, 1977, pp. 61-67). The complementary work of Offe and Ronge (1975), Carnoy (1984 and 1985), and Fischer (1990) are evidence of the significance of this trend.

Some Basic and Contrasting Perspectives in American Reconceptualism: Anyon, Apple, and Giroux

A New Civics and the Hidden Curriculum

In contrasting radical perspectives on schooling and society in the UK and the US, Arnot and Whitty (1982, pp. 93-103) delineate three characteristics of the American approach. These are a critique of schooling combined with educational intervention for social change, a commitment to “intellectual and methodological pluralism,” and an interactive relationship between theory and empirical research. ← 45 | 46 → These theoretical constructs are not only linked to, but depend on, European (including British) theoretical underpinnings. In this regard, the work of Anyon, Apple, and Giroux is exemplary.

Both Apple and Giroux criticize the “monolithic” views of the strict correspondence theory. The mediating role of schools and the resistance to dominance practiced there illustrate the active contestation, struggle, and contradictions which emerge in both educational and workplace settings. The social transfunctional role of schooling allows the possibility of change and emancipatory reconstruction of both schooling and society.

Anyon, Apple, and others showed that school textbooks were designed to be conflict-free, legitimated the social order, and stressed stability and social harmony at the expense of “sordid” reality. The distortions, “silences,” and misperceptions in textbooks are shaped by social realities in which the powerless play no important role in US history; this reinforces their impotence. School texts present an ideology which is designed to produce meanings and which, itself, must be deconstructed. The commodification process of the text production system involves publishers, textbook writers, readers, and other relevant interactions which are beyond mere reproduction theory (Arnot and Whitty, 1982, pp. 96-97; Anyon, 1979 and 1980)).

Similarly, the hidden curriculum as a socializing influence illustrates the implicit and covert transmission of values, beliefs, attitudes, norms, and behaviors through curriculum structures and the social relations of schooling. Once again, the simple economic correspondence model of Bowles and Gintis did not explain conflicts, contradictions, and discontinuities both within and between schools and the economy they were supposed to reproduce. Willis, Apple, Giroux, and others recognized that the very tensions and contradictions in schooling allowed school to be considered a potential site for innovation, change, and transformation. This allowed Anyon, et al. to develop the more complex theory of “the reproduction of conflict rather than merely the maintenance of domination.” For instance, Anyon’s study of classes in five US East Coast elementary schools shows the degree to which resistance and struggle to traditional schooling are both alike and different among students from various class backgrounds (Anyon, 1983).

Since a critical pedagogy to resolve such contradictions is still lacking, Giroux proposed moving beyond reproduction and critique to a transformational, liberation, and emancipatory emphasis (which the hidden curriculum concept promises). In this regard, he is joined by Apple, who also sees the possibility of intervention through schooling against the panoply of technical controls which restrict teachers and which are designed to produce professional consumers for the economic system. Anyon’s studies of schooling also revealed the transformational possibilities of penetration, resistance, and counterhegemony. Like Apple, Anyon sees these possibilities may be limited to particular classrooms, teachers, schools, and sites since curricula, classes, and social expectations vary according to the “curriculum in use” there. Moreover, gender, race, and class are also relevant when ← 46 | 47 → considering such transformational possibilities. These are mainly revealed through ethnographic educational research (Anyon, 1983, pp. 98-102).

Giroux’s work tries to move beyond structural-functionalist and reproductive theory to “a radical pedagogy that connects critical pedagogical theory with the need for social action in the interest of both individual freedom and social reconstruction” (Giroux, 1981a, pp. 7-8). Reproductive rationality is useful, but deficient, because of its “one-sided determinism, its simplistic view of the mechanisms of social and cultural reproduction in schools, its ahistorical view of human agency and, finally, its profoundly anti-utopian stance toward radical social change” (Giroux, 1981a, p. 14). The simple correspondence or “black box” model of schooling is too simplistic in that teachers and students produce as well as conserve knowledge. Resistance, the dialectic, human agency, contradictions, mediation, and opposition are part of the process for recreating and changing the social order, not merely mirroring it. Ideological hegemony can be linked to culture and resistance in schools to expose hegemonic practices to explore transformational possibilities, to disclose structural limits, to reveal contradictions in the lived lives of teachers and students, and to develop a radical pedagogy to allow students to explore the sources and limits of meaningful discourse. Giroux finds that modern pedagogy is “atheoretic, ahistoric, and unproblematic” so that its positivistic outputs are technologically sound, but undemocratic and nonemancipatory. A new curriculum must be based on students” everyday lives and historical and societal dialectics. It should also be reflective, critical, demystifying, transcendent, and reconstructive (Giroux, 1981a, pp. 37, 107, 123, 130-132, 143; Wood, Spring 1982, pp. 63-71; Popkewitz, 1983 and May 1985, pp. 429, 436).

As Wood points out, part of the problem with Apple, Giroux, Anyon, and other radical critics is the communication and “translatability” of theory into practical educational language and action. In response, Apple proposes that teachers transform their own work lives. They can then regain control and autonomy over teaching and engage in direct political action against proposals, such as tax credits for educational “choice” in schooling. Sponsoring revisions of the history curriculum, worker democracy, and feminist programs, and encountering “possessive individualism” through tapping students” “lived culture” offer other reform possibilities to challenge “the balance of forces within a specific arena” (Apple, 1982a, pp. 88-90, 130-134).

Apple also endorses the “rediscovery” of the “heuristic power” of history and puts the contemporary form of social relations in an historical context. Responding to classical, elitist, and conservative critics of schooling, he advocates considering “critical literacy,” understanding diverse traditions and histories (normally excluded from schooling), and fostering “a democratic curriculum.” This includes using knowledge and skill to create and pursue one’s own interests while being able “to make informed personal and political decisions; and to work for the welfare of the community.” He proposes democratic reforms to insure site management of ← 47 | 48 → schooling, more local initiative and control, greater freedom and flexibility, decentralized examination and textbook selection, and less educational bureaucracy. More collective and cooperative teamwork among teachers, sabbaticals and study periods, and teacher control over teaching/learning innovations are other strategies he proposes. To develop a more democratic educational environment, he suggests salary increases, peer reviews, and greater school-university linkages, along with implementing a new assessment and evaluation plan and engaging students in challenging learning settings. Student empowerment, counter-hegemony, and demystification of inequality are still other features of this political awareness curriculum (Apple, 1988, pp. 11, 189-195).

Other Trends in Critical Social Science and Educational Theory

Some General Observations

Critical educational, radical reconceptualist, and neo-Marxian theories of schooling in the US, Sweden, the UK, France, Germany, and elsewhere represent a serious and useful attempt to intellectually disaggregate what schools do in modern industrial and postindustrial societies. While these theorists disagree on details of the economic-political-cultural-educational nexus, certain basic concepts frequently appear and reappear in their writings. These include terms, processes, and concepts such as social reproduction, qualitative and ethnographic methods, correspondence theory, the hidden curriculum, discourses, contradictions, resistance, institutional sites, human agency, penetration, limitations, ideological hegemony, social and cultural capital, deskilling, the critique of modernism, postindustrialism, positivism, structuralism and functionalism, inequality and oppression, the utility of dialectical tensions, enlightenment, liberation, transformational praxis, and the critical importance of community, class, gender, and race as criteria for identifying social oppression in different cultural sites and social practices.

Three major schools of thought use the economic, cultural, and hegemonic-state reproductive models. The political economy model (Bowles and Gintis, 1976, 1986, and 1988) is the dominant one for the “hidden curriculum,” educational policy, and ethnographic research studies. Bowles and Gintis use correspondence theory to equate school classroom practices with workplace needs and demands. The social division of labor and the class structure are mirrored in schools. The “hidden curriculum” in schools legitimizes the workplace’s authority, rules, values, rationality, and power relationships. Intellectual, hierarchical, and competitive tasks are valued more than manual, democratic, or group/shared processes. Students learn to read, write, and add for productive work, to behave properly to meet job expectations, and to respect the rules and hierarchy imposed by the capitalist order. To this analysis, Althusser (1971) adds an ideological dimension. The day-to-day “culture” of the school is one aspect of this ideology. Its “unconscious” dimension is found in the “meanings, representations, and values” underlying school practices, ← 48 | 49 → shared images, structures, and concepts. Christian Baudelot and Roger Establet see schools as sites of ideological conflict, stemming from external sources. Class culture is seen as the primary source for such resistance; yet, ideology actively involves both dominant and oppositional strains. These contradictions may impede both self- and collective-liberation.

Bourdieu’s (1973, 1977, 1984, and with Passeron, 1977 and 1979) cultural-reproductive model posits the dominant culture of the ruling class as the hidden basis for maintaining class interests, hierarchy, and domination. Since schools are relatively autonomous, they are perceived as being “neutral” in transmitting cultural capital and rejecting less-valued, lower-class culture. The school’s curriculum, language, and positive behaviors are actually those of the dominant culture (that is, the ruling class). The historical conditions (“habitat”) and deliberately cultivated, durable, individual dispositions (“habitus”) of persons enable schools to dominate the “unconscious” of young workers so completely that they willingly accept their predetermined lot in society. Structural conflict is possible in Bourdieu’s theory, but it is rather mechanistic, just as his views of class are overly homogeneous. His rejecting conflict, struggle, and resistance within different classes and his ignoring both the active reconstruction of ideologies and resistance to their imposition through counterideologies are other shortcomings of his analysis, according to Aronowitz and Giroux (1985, pp. 85-86). He is also ignorant of the oppressive burdens of material conditions and other economic constraints which impede the growth of working-class students and, at the same time, limit their possibilities for critical thinking and emancipation (Shirley, 1986).

If the nexus between the state and capitalism was illuminated in Antonio Gramsci’ s writings, that between the state and schooling is explained by Apple (Spring 1979, Spring 1980, 1982b, 1983, 1985, and with King, 1983, and with Weiss, 1983). They use the state hegemony model to explain the process of class domination over the political and educational system as well as the economy and its cultural superstructure. Gramsci saw hegemony as primarily the expression of the ruling class’s and their allies” world view and, then, as the forceful imposition of a dominant ruling ideology over the consciousness, everyday lives, knowledge, and culture of subordinate groups. The state itself consists of both a political and civil society, which use “official” ideology to eliminate opposing views. Ideological hegemony must be continuously maintained by force, consensus, and/or domination. This is true even if it meets resistance from those refusing to be incorporated or unwilling to give “active consent” to the rulers. The state represents class, power, interests, rule, struggle, domination, and divisions, all masquerading as “normality” and “nature.” Different ruling class factions may quarrel over specific public policies, but not over fundamental power and economic relationships. These remain unquestionably supportive of the capitalist order. State rulers defend the economic and moral order and engineer the consent of the ruled through false promises of opportunity, democracy, and happiness. They also ← 49 | 50 → “rewrite history” and destroy class opponents amidst obvious ideological contradictions found in everyday reality (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1985, pp. 87-92).

Schooling is used to reinforce society’s dominant ideology, culture, and economic practices. Schooling highly values positivism, science, mathematics, basic research, competence, credentials, vocational education, national history, and other production-related output products which support economic efficiency and allow for “capital accumulation.” Planning, bureaucracy, and rationality keep children in school and off the streets and label deviants (victims) responsible for their own failures. This is the alternative to illuminating the social and economic causes of “failure” or allowing the masses to share in decision and policy making. The capitalist state allows a liberal democratic ethic of individual rights and responsibilities to operate in schools. This philosophy assumes that the state is neutral. Conflict is rationalized at the individual (rather than the more-threatening class) level and is, thus, made more impotent. Laws undergird the school system, force change, ensure conformity and compliance, and indirectly quash resistance. However, such an analysis may also be a bit abstract while ignoring the role of resistance to domination through counterhegemonic practices (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1985, pp. 92-98; Giroux, 1981a, pp. 91-109).

Aronowitz and Giroux (1991) also appropriated elements of the postmodern critique into their explication of class, race, gender, and sexual preference questions in contemporary American and Western societies. For example, Giroux (1991, pp. 1-59 and 217-256) looks to a grand synthesis of liberal freedom, postmodern particularism, feminist everyday politics, and democratic socialist solidarity and civism into a new unity in diversity. This “difference within unity” goes beyond radical critique, intellectual redefinition, and democratic pedagogy to a new form of democratic “cultural politics” devoid of any master narrative or grand discourse and focusing on resistance and the democratic struggle to achieve “justice, freedom, and equality” (Giroux, 1991, pp. 56-59).

A “border pedagogy” of antiracism is needed to empower students to decode knowledge and power relationships within different cultural settings using historical and cultural analysis, lived experiences, democratic authority, justice, and power interrelationships along with redefining constructs such as “the other” and “otherness” both in and out of schools (Giroux, 1991, pp. 247-256). In this setting, schooling becomes one form of “cultural politics” and is linked to democratic public life; teachers become “engaged intellectuals and border crossers” who develop “. . . forms of pedagogy that incorporate difference, plurality, and the language of the everyday as central to the production and legitimation of learning” (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1991, p. 187). However, this postmodernist view of the radical reform project comes under severe criticism for its fashionable amalgam of several popular discourses as well as for its confusing call to politicize teachers in the absence of a well-argued and principled case for redemptive justice, “self-enlightenment,” ← 50 | 51 → equality, and an ideologically sound conception of “utopian universalism” which will have meaning for many teachers in the US and Canada.

The US: Bowles ’ and Gintis ’ Dynamic Views

With Ivan Illich’s (1970) notion of deschooling society, Marxist reproduction theorists created a dismal portrait without any hope for reforming schools, either from within or without. As Willis (1981, p. 63) notes, the new convention deals with those proposing radical educational change within the classroom as being optimistic proponents of liberation, praxis, and enlightenment. By contrast, those pessimists adhering to reproduction theory eschew any possibility for educational change in the absence of economic and social reconstruction along truly egalitarian lines. For example, Wood (Spring 1982, pp. 56 and 63) labels the reproductive school of Marxism as the philosophy of “paralysis” and “cynicism.” As examples of reproductionists, Bowles and Gintis (1976) accept Althusser’s (1971) characterization of schools as “ideological state apparatuses.” There, oppressed students accept their fate as products of the “false consciousness” developed through capitalistic schooling. While liberal theories of development, integration, and democracy are content to justify schooling as preparation for later life, reproduction theorists claim that cognitive skills learned in school have little relation to the actual requirements of work life. Capitalistic society uses a hegemonic ideology which persuades students that their job roles are ethical, necessary, “natural,” or right. Schools legitimate this nonparticipatory, undemocratic, and hierarchical order while developing a consenting consciousness among their pupils. The schools both reflect and are modeled on the workplace, with its “hierarchical division of labor.” This is the “structural correspondence” theory in operation. It promotes “subordination,” “powerlessness,” inequality, and hegemony. Bowles and Gintis (1976, p. 224) originally perceived “a strong prima facie case for the causal importance of economic structure as a major determinant of educational structure.” Economic reform was, consequently, a prior condition for any educational transformation.

Schooling in capitalist societies diverts attention from the need for equality and liberation by imposing a “false consciousness” and ideology of hegemony on students, rather than addressing the need for “a revolutionary transformation of economic life.” However, “revolutionary educators” can serve as a vanguard of the proletariat role by pressing for educational democracy, dissolving the workplace-education correspondence, rejecting “simple antiauthoritarianism and spontaneity” as principles, creating “class consciousness,” and practicing transformational “political work” for short- and long-run change (Bowles and Gintis, 1976, pp. 127-134, 265, and 286-287; Wood, Spring 1982, pp. 55-63).

Wood’s analysis of Bowles’ and Gintis’ and Althusser’s work subscribes to Bernstein’s (1978) earlier critique of the latter’s neo-Marxism by labeling the lot with terms such as structuralist, positivist, economic determinist, empiricist, and ← 51 | 52 → being advocates of pseudo-scientific “laws.” As the dominant “educational ideological apparatus,” schools join the police and military as a “repressive state apparatus” to ensure capitalist domination and hegemony. Liberal social humanists mistakenly underwrite repressive testing, ordering, and empirical social science positivism, as well as cultural reproduction, according to these radical educators of the American left. In Wood’s (Spring 1982, pp. 61-63) view, this verdict encourages “paralysis,” cynicism, negativism, disillusionment, and silence among other educational practitioners. It also ignores the democratic, egalitarian, liberating, and social transformation mission of American schooling, as well as the possibility for resistance to hegemonic forces. To fill this gap (between the “authoritarian” impetus of reproduction theory and the realities of schooling), a second group of radical critics (for example, Apple, Giarelli, Aronowitz, and Giroux) has evolved, providing a message of hope, possibility, and social reconstruction.

In fact, Gintis and Bowles (1981, pp. 45-59) restated and re-evaluated the correspondence principle. They also answered charges of alleged radical functionalism and “missionary pessimism,” ascribed to their lack of appreciation for the systemic contradictions within education and between it and capitalistic economic processes and social relations. Moreover, with Dewey, they recognize liberalism’s egalitarian, developmental, and integrative educational principles, rather than its merely being unequal and repressive schooling which, in the process, produces “good citizens” for an undemocratic capitalist society – without democratic power, participation, cooperation, emancipation, and social and economic relations. However, they still maintain that the correspondence principle has explanatory value, point to the need for systemic reform through democratic socialism, explain school outputs as products of structural social relations (not just content), and identify control over (rather than ownership of) schools as the route to follow for progressive educational reform. Inherent contradictions between education’s legitimizing and reproducing roles and advanced capitalism’s accumulating and restructuring processes places these two systems “out of synch” with one other. American higher education previously reflected this contrast between the post-1945 needs of the growing white-collar/service economy and the older, liberal, elite education designed for a managerial class on the one hand and the emerging vocationalism and anti-intellectualism on the other. The growing incongruence between inert, “old” schools and the dynamic, “new” service economy established the groundwork for “back to basics” claims which were founded on the apparent cultural lag between less-responsive higher education and the demands of the capitalist economic order.

The social relations (or forms, rather than contents) of liberal education produced and legitimated institutions and communication discourses which are the products of interclass “accords.” Therefore, schools remain contradictorily progressive and reproductive. These tensions can only be resolved by democratizing ← 52 | 53 → both the school curriculum and its social relations. This could fulfill the liberal promise of equality, democracy, liberty, and emancipation, but without (or with lessened) propertied/accumulative/capitalist hegemony, dominance, and subordination (Gintis and Bowles, 1981, pp. 45-59).

The US: Carnoy and Colleagues on the Political Economy of Education

Between 1977 and 1990, Martin Carnoy (with various coauthors) studied education and employment, educational reform, the political economy of education, economic democracy, and the state and political theory. Much of this work is on third-world countries (such as China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mozambique, and Tanzania). Its focus is on cross-national and comparative analysis of the politics of/and education.

Carnoy and Levin (1985 and 1986) also study the topic of schooling and work in the democratic state. This includes relationships between theories of the state and education, social conflict, reproduction, and contradictions in schooling and educational reform. They posit that schools and workplaces are both alike and different. Both are “large, bureaucratic, impersonal, hierarchical, and routinized’; both use external rewards as motivators (grades and wages) and allow experts, authority, regulations, and schedules to dominate the same minorities and classes which fail in both sites. Yet, American schools “more than any other major social institution” also “provide equal opportunities for participation and rewards.” Workplace gender inequities are not reflected in education nor are the vast differences in societal wealth mirrored in the more-equalized level of educational investment in the society. Educators and students also have more rights and freedoms than do workers (as a result of forces such as politics, law, and democratic “mobilization”).

While US schools prepare students for inequality, they are more equal and participatory than offices and factories. The correspondence principle must be qualified since there is a clear conflict between the economic reproduction function and the dynamic for rights, equality, and participation. Schooling reflects the struggles underway in the society at large (that is, between democratic egalitarianism and the demands of capital). This historical “struggle” occurs within the state and is reflected in the schools. In effect, educational change is based on a new theory of politics and the state. The latter is seen as “the condensation of conflictual class and social relations” and both as “product and shaper of such relations.” The state has tried to “move class and social conflict” into politics by declassifying and redefining workers, farmers, women, and blacks as “citizens” with equal rights and responsibilities. This thrust for democratic egalitarianism produced social conflict since politics could “drastically alter the conditions of capitalist accumulation.” The school is “situated in the heart of sociopolitical conflict,” reflecting these “tensions.” Educational change is a product of internal conflicts within the state. At different historical periods (partly depending on the strength of social reform movements), either the democratic or reproductive ← 53 | 54 → capitalist ethos dominates. Dominated groups can make “authentic” changes and gains. In turn, they produce changes in the basic rules of the political and educational “game,” despite the prevailing influence of the capitalist class. In effect, they conclude that “school struggles and outcomes have an impact on the workplace and force change in civil society as well as in political society” (Carnoy and Levin, 1986, pp. 528-541).

Carnoy and Levin (1985) also analyze the relative utility of the progressive (Dewey), critical progressive (Goodman, Holt, Kozol), functionalist (Inkeles), critical functionalist (Althusser and Bowles and Gintis), critical autonomy (Apple, Giroux, and Willis), and their own model of educational change via social conflict. They counterpoise utilitarian, pluralist (“common good”), “class-perspective” (Marxist), structuralist, bureaucratic “third force,” and their own “social conflict” theories of the state. For example, Carnoy and Levin summarize Offe’s (with Ronge, 1975) views on state autonomy and the “representative” role bureaucracy plays. Bureaucrats must satisfy the interests of the capitalist class. Yet, bureaucrats simultaneously increase labor’s power via educational programs while legitimizing themselves by meeting certain demands of labor while ensuring profitability and a smooth-functioning economy. For Offe, the bureaucracy actually coalesces the interests of the capitalist class and serves as an “independent” mediator for struggles over capital accumulation. But the “crisis of legitimation” resulting from performing these bureaucratic roles makes the state a battleground for conflict resolution. Education allows the state to be legitimate, reproduce capitalism, and ensure employability for labor. Carnoy and Levin, however, claim that Offe’s and Ronge’s analysis of education is too unidimensional, neglects other “ideological apparatuses” (such as mass media), and underestimates the important role of social movements in ideological formation and in setting the state’s agenda, rewards, and policies (Carnoy and Levin, 1985, pp. 15-45).

Carnoy’s (1985) analysis of the political economy of education “treats education as a factor shaped by the power relations between different economic, political, and social groups.” As he says, “how much education an individual gets, what education is obtained and the role of education in economic growth and income distribution are part and parcel of these power relations.” Thus, his analysis requires a clear perspective on the governmental sector, the political system, and a functional “theory of the state.” As he sees it, the state must mediate between employers and workers as well as between voters and capitalists, using education to provide a skilled workforce, to socialize workers, and to inculcate the appropriate ideology. Sometimes, these contradictory goals can overproduce educated workers or encourage workplace democracy, whether as intended or unintended outcomes of schooling (Carnoy, 1985, pp. 157-158; Carnoy and Levin, Winter 1986). ← 54 | 55 →

Critiques of the Reconceptualist Critics from the UK and the US: Cole and Liston

There is no unanimity in critical social science or pedagogical approaches, “schools” of thought, or even in personal theoretical or philosophical consistency over the years. This poses difficulties for the uninitiated reader’s understanding of the broad dimensions of critical educational theory. For example, Cole (1988a and 1988b) examines the changing political philosophy of Bowles and Gintis. He makes a convincing case that these two authors’ basic orientation in Schooling in Capitalist America (1976) agreed with reductionist Marxism (that is, base/superstructure and economic determinism) and revolutionary socialism. In their later article on “Contradiction and Reproduction in Educational Theory” (1981), they moved away from this position by tempering Marxism in their theory of sites (state, family, and capital production) and the practices which support personal, group, or class “interventions” to maintain or transform certain social realities. They also humanized and pluralized their definition of the state while simultaneously distancing themselves from a neo-Marxist stance, moving toward a liberal democratic formulation of the state as primarily a governmental institution.

Cole claims that Bowles and Gintis (1986) moved even further away from their original position to embrace “postliberal democracy” with its expanded personal economic rights (property) as well as political rights for citizens with “equal” rights, regardless of race, gender, or class. This shift proposes the revision, reconstruction, or destruction of current capitalist institutions through “workplace democracy,” “democratic economic planning” through increased power and worker control, “community access to capital,” reduced (“equitable”) economic inequality, socially directed (“collective”) capital “investment decisions,” and “democratic accountability.” However, these authors identify the most significant flaws in classic liberal theory. These include ignorance of exploitation and oppression, its application of principles (such as liberty and equality) to the state (but only liberty to the economy), its false distinction between a “private” economy and “public” state, and liberals” allowance for private exploitation, dominance, and/or oppression of “learners” in school, of the incarcerated, “uncivilized” races, and of “irrational” wives in the family (Cole, 1988b, pp. 459-460).

This critique, itself, consistently applies neo-Marxian analysis of key concepts (such as state domination and oppression, antipluralism and liberalism, class, gender, racial exploitation, hegemony, labor solidarity, and discourse analysis) to Bowles’ and Gintis’ writings, theory, and philosophy. As such, Cole may well be more faithful to the British or European school of Marxist analysis, just as Bowles and Gintis are both products of, and are reacting to, the perhaps stronger liberal (both individual and especially social) tradition in American political culture (also see Cole, 1989).

Liston (May 1988, pp. 323-350) analyzes some changing contexts and neo-Marxist positions on schooling and social reproduction theories. For the latter, he ← 55 | 56 → says that “little reliable empirical knowledge has been ascertained” to support their functional/logical explanations. These are often stated in tautological terms. Frequently, Liston maintains, the arguments of Bowles and Gintis (1976), Apple (1982a, 1982b, and 1983), and Carnoy and Levin (1985) employ “weak” functional explanations. Thus, effects are noted, institutional or agency functions are attributed, and this course of reasoning is considered equal to (or sufficient for) an explanation for the described social phenomenon. By comparison, “real” functional explanations clearly identify real effects, then prove a practice or institution exists because of, to maintain, and/or as a cause of this given effect (for example, schools exist to maintain the society as it is; or school tracking systems exist to minimize economic crises or to legitimize the capitalist order in capitalist societies). Such “facile” functional explanations are also applied to other assertions. These propose that, while schools exist to maintain the capitalist system, they also conflict with (or contradict) this order. This happens because their capital accumulation and meritocratic or legitimating roles may clash with the social order if those who “strive” in schools do not find jobs and “thrive” later in the economic world. Such explanations would be more soundly based, Liston maintains, if they could show how school affects “products” or if outcomes explain why schools are as they are (causation), not merely their either sustaining or contradicting capitalism and its related effects (Liston, May 1988, pp. 328-330).

Liston also describes the variety of philosophical underpinnings in various neo-Marxist analyses of schooling. Bowles and Gintis are responsible for shared insights, such as “historical correspondence.” This theory shows that when major economic transformations occurred, power and class structures and relationships changed and the educational (cultural) superstructure mirrored these altered economic conditions. There is also the more specific phenomenon of school-work-life correspondence where the social division of labor is reinforced in schools by maintaining class structures and cultivating relevant parental expectations. Consequently, professional parents expect self-motivation and a free-wheeling or open work/school atmosphere. The working class “prefers” a restrictive and controlling educational climate because it reflects their personal modes of routinized, meaningless, and orderly work life. Correspondence (Bowles and Gintis, 1976) is also based on an economic determinist model. That is, the forces and relations of production determine the forms, meanings, structures, and processes of schooling as well as other social institutions (superstructures). This model also accounts for contradictions and conflicts (sometimes “muted”) in the economic sphere, which are responsible for subsequent educational conflicts and changes as well. Schools also require students to compete, rather than cooperate, with one another for grades and “honors.” Since students lack self-motivation, they only respond to external rewards. The credentialing system, the top-down organization of school hierarchy, and the deskilling of teachers (via prepackaged ← 56 | 57 → curricula and diminished professionalism) lead to the legitimation of prevailing social norms and rules for work life management.

Because schools reflect the class, race, and gender structures of the general society, they try to respond to a multiplicity of competing demands from employers, workers, educators, parents, and politicians. All help to influence tracking, hierarchy, curriculum, teachers, resource allocation, and other aspects of schooling. Schooling may also be considered a democratic “right” of all citizens. Consequently, a certain amount of excellence and equality through democratic schooling (if properly understood) may be possible. It can result in social transformation through theoretically informed action (praxis), along with an informed understanding of the close connections between capitalism and schooling (Liston, May 1988, pp. 334-342).

Tracking must be examined through empirical and qualitative studies of differential, class-based curricula, which subsequently result in higher social status as well as greater social and economic power. Informed studies (with a proper theoretical base) can produce findings which will help to meet functionalist criticisms as well as to provide grounded underpinnings for the theoretical construct being examined. Historical studies (with case studies of tracking controversies at the urban level) can show the influence and interest of business classes in a tracking system and a differential class-based curriculum. In this way, Liston contends, a structure or procedure can be shown to produce interactive effects which feed back into its maintenance based on these supporting effects (Liston, May 1988, pp. 344-348).

A Comparative (Swedish) Perspective: Englund

Englund provides a useful comparison among patriarchal, scientific-rational, and democratic conceptions of democracy, equality, the good society, rationality, science, individualism, schooling, literacy, and politics. While the neoconservative position is based on the patriarchal conception and includes formal, elite, organic, valuative, idealistic, atomistic, private, nationalistic, reformist, religious, legalistic, and cultural values, the scientific-rational (or what Fischer, 1990, calls the “technocratic rationality”) model is based on funtionalism, equal opportunity, the market, positivism, individualism, choice, private values, vocationalism, progress-ivism, empiricism, political neutrality, and utility. He prefers the democratic conception, which is participatory, results- and human-rights-oriented, pluralistic, neopragmatic, communitarian, comprehensive, public-welfare-minded, critical reconstructionist, and devoted to popular political and social education for conflict resolution.

Perceiving civic education as an example of both the politics of education and a case of politics and education allows for an analysis of curriculum as a political problem in Sweden and other countries. Englund (1986) analyzes criticisms of Freeman Butts’ unitary approach to American citizenship as historical study by ← 57 | 58 → detailing his stress on unum over pluribus in social studies education. Butts” critics affirm that no social consensus exists on unitary values. The educator should reflect social tensions and conflicts (not just some artificial consensus) and increase the public’s capacity for civic discussion and the formation of new publics, not parrot state or media-sponsored official ideology. Along with Giroux, he sees the civic educator helping create a new public philosophy of education, learning, and citizenship (apart from the state), raising citizenship to a complete ethical, moral, and social (not merely political) philosophy for “developing democratic and just communities” self-governed via ethical public leadership principles (Englund, 1986, pp. 328-330) Englund shares English and American views of civic education as political involvement, activity, and participation. The goals of citizen “awareness” and “responsibility for political decisions” are highly valued. He agrees with Giroux (1983a and 1984) and Giarelli (1983) that the civic educator should lead public discussions. There, the public can discharge their civic purposes by exercising the “office” of citizen to form new publics. We need new “public spheres” where people can learn and apply their skills to “the wider political, social, and cultural processes.” Citizenship should not be viewed as a function of the state, as Giroux maintains, but as a “quality” that applies to all of social life. As Giroux says, the goals of this type of citizenship are “critical literacy,” “social empowerment,” and “developing democratic and just communities” through an informed citizenry that is “capable of exercising political and ethical leadership in the public sphere” (Englund, 1986, pp. 329-330; Giarelli, 1983, p. 35; and Giroux, 1984, pp. 190 and 192).

Ethnography, Critical Studies, and Politics

Certain “interpretive approaches” also contribute to the study of education and schooling from a comparative perspective on micro systems or “the world of everyday life.” This ethnographic perspective focuses on social reality in the schools, observations there, and social interactions, while using videotaped or audio-recorded documentaries (Tobin, 1989, pp. 173-177). “Critical approaches” to the ethnography of schooling “emphasize class conflict, the dissimilar interests of various classes, and their differing relationship to (and benefits from) the workings of the educational system” (Masemann, February 1982, p. 9). “Conflict approaches” also have social (and structural) theoretical underpinnings, but are less compatible with functionalist approaches. These approaches see schools as agents for the “reproduction of society,” where personality trait reinforcement prepares different classes for economic roles as workers or managers. They posit a “theory of correspondence,” in which “social relations of production are mirrored in the social relations of education.” For example, some theorize that schools stratify and produce the “cultural capital” (ideas, ideology, etc.) the dominant class needs. Teachers, like workers, are becoming “deskilled” professionals with ready-made, prepackaged curriculum. Key research topics include student alienation, curriculum ← 58 | 59 → packaging, credentialing, required courses, norms of prediction, social control mechanisms, socialization practices, and miscommunication. Student “resistance” to such manipulations include cheating, distancing, absenteeism, mindlessness, inattention, avoidance, or rebellion. Praxis is avoided since schooling, knowledge, and credentials are not usefully applied, only “banked” for future use (Masemann, February 1982, pp. 5-14).

Specific ethnographic research on school socialization and desegregation policy produced much harsher conclusions about democratic socialization and racial equality practices in public schools (Wilcox 1982a and 1982b; Hanna, 1982). Wilcox (1982a) asserts that schools transmit culture and socialize children for “available” adult work roles. Adult work roles are highly differentiated and stratified. Therefore, while US schools are supposed to encourage equal opportunity, they also stratify persons for future jobs by teaching and evaluating those cognitive skills, learning abilities, and technical skills (“human capital”) deemed useful for later work life. They also develop appropriate roles for workers and managers through “self-preparation” for the work hierarchy. Personality factors which are appropriate for relating to authority differ from one job role to another, with some being “externally” (assembly line workers) and others “internally” (managers) motivated. These critiques of multidimensional sources and self-image development (anticipatory socialization) have major implications for schooling, the social context of the classroom, the teachers” interactions with students and parents, and vice versa (Wilcox, 1982a, pp. 268-309).

Micro- and macro-level perspectives on schooling and change also interest ethnographers. Teachers often use closed control systems and restricted language, even in “open” classrooms where they monopolize some class time for management. Merely having (or paying lip service to) learning centers and individualized learning practices does not necessarily reduce “authoritarian teacher control mechanisms,” which are used more harshly against lower-SES students. Black children in white-dominated classrooms are resegregated by achievement levels, even without tracking. Administrative ignorance and unwillingness to help teachers experiencing difficulty in newly integrated schools was also observed. No conjoint, multicultural curricula developments were supported, nor was outreach to minority parents attempted. (Parents are systematically excluded from schools, as a rule.) Different class members learn similar roles in the schools. But the values of success in the general society predominate when school/societal discontinuities occur. By detailing such relations, ethnography helps us compile a more dynamic view of what happens to whom, and with what lasting effects, in schools (Wilcox, 1982b, pp. 462-478). ← 59 | 60 →

Do Current Trends in Critical Educational Theory Parallel and Reinforce or Contradict Recent Developments in US Political Science, Socialization Research and/or Civic Educational Reforms?

Political Science and Decision Making

American political science is still searching for a disciplinary core by discussing methods, processes, and the role of different subfields and concepts. Some relevant and useful unifying concepts include power, influence, authority, political “values,” the state, politics, and government. Appropriate accepted research methods and political processes are behavioral, neo-Marxist, statistical, postbehavioral, qualitative, philosophical, psychological, public or rational choice, pluralism, and decision/policy making approaches. Certain subfields of analysis identify political theory, public policy, or the general study of politics or governments as key elements in such a core. While political science remains undisciplined, political scientists intuitively recognize and embrace something or someone as their own and reject that (or someone’s work) which is not. In many respects, what is left of a diffuse political science core is merely a shared focus on the process of policy analysis or decision making of a common vocabulary which allows comprehensible discourse to occur in a continuous metadiscourse with colleagues in the same field or subfield (Monroe, et al., March 1990, pp. 34-43; Farnen, 1990, pp. 29-48; Almond, Fall 1988, pp. 828-842).

The “Discipline” of Political Science as an Undisciplined Field of Study

The relevance and applicability of critical social science and radical educational theories to US political science, socialization, and education research and writing are still unclear, undeveloped, tangential, and weak. There are neo-Marxist, radical, or new left political analysts in the academy; but they mainly prod, arouse or act as scapegoats for centrist-oriented colleagues. Mainstreamers often treat them in a condescending way, much like carnival freaks - something human and alive, but bizarrely deformed and sometimes repulsive. Only in certain conceptual areas, political topics, or cultural sites do political scientists and critical social and educational theorists have opportunities to come together. Instances such as discussions about the politics of education, collective union negotiations, social or cultural “capital,” civic education, or the “hidden curriculum” provide occasions for mainline political scientists to discuss relevant “left-wing” theoretical and evidentiary constructs. These marginal intersections “mainstream” these ideas into the continuing public discourse about the relevance of political questions to learning, schooling, civic education, and public educational policy.

In this regard, Dryzek and Leonard maintain there is no exclusive tradition in American political science, saying that “disciplinary pluralism is the norm, and the ← 60 | 61 → existence of skepticism itself accentuates that pluralism.” They claim that the profession has often been involved in “real politics” and just at the right time as well. As they observe, recent currents of disciplinary skepticism very aptly reflect present political realities and “the context of a polity and a discipline that have lost their bearings” (Dryzek and Leonard, December 1988, pp. 1256-1257; Dryzek, May 1986).

Critical Pedagogy, Political Science, and Political Education: Some Developmental Parallels, Clashes, and Collisions

Most recent discussions on core values and appropriate methods in contemporary US political science seem singularly unenlightened about many questions which have motivated political study. These involve the nature and purpose of human beings, society, the state, and government as well as contrasting views about the good society and paths or policy choices which might be taken to achieve the public good either today or tomorrow. Instead, US political scientists are overly concerned about conversational themes such as pluralism, objectivity, political neutrality, and the primacy of classic democratic political theory in their intra-disciplinary discussions.

But which themes of critical educational theory appear most useful for both enlightening and “liberating” American political science, citizenship education, and political socialization research? Critical educational theorists and social scientists add to our knowledge about politics, education, and socialization in several areas. Nevertheless, there are several other areas where conspicuous “silences” in their texts provide few satisfactory answers to still other pressing current problems. A review of these contrasting contributions may help answer this question.

A Workable Theory of the State

The first productive area stemming from trends in critical social science resurrects discussions about a current and viable theory of the modern state. Much of political science, civic education, and socialization research has no clear concept of what the state, government, or civil authority is supposed to do, what it does, or why it does what it does. Vague formulations of popular sovereignty are combined with a penchant for participation to achieve abstract notions of democratic fulfillment. In this regard, critical social scientists clearly oppose the liberal/capitalist state’s basic values and manifestations (Offe and Ronge, 1977). These challenges are both radical and essential to an appreciation of the central questions of power, authority, bureaucracy, legitimacy, justice, freedom, solidarity, and equity (Carnoy, 1984 and 1985).

Radical theorists clarify this aspect of their political and educational philosophy while challenging their detractors to debate alternative views with appropriate evidence, knowledge, and value claims. Therefore, as Macpherson (1977) and Finkelstein (1984) observed, radical philosophical critics helped raise ← 61 | 62 → basic political and teleological questions about the nature, nurture, and purpose of human beings, society, and government. Alternatively, their self-satisfied liberal and conservative opponents prefer to ignore such questions or to assume answers to them as part of the conventional wisdom. But little in the contemporary debate about the nature of political science is concerned with a viable theory of the modern democratic state. In fact, when the right proposes statist ideas, the left (not the center) has felt most compelled to respond to their undemocratic elitism, self-serving economic and class-based motivations and their reduction of human interaction to self-interest, exchange relationships, and moral/ethical anarchy or conformity.

Using critical social science perspectives to analyze US public policy making, some American scholars questioned the normative, ethical, political, and philosophical basis for neoconservative and liberal notions of efficiency, “the market,” and cost benefit analysis (Fischer and Forester, 1987). Fischer’s (1990) analysis helps us spot links between the postindustrial economy and the new administrative state. Within a nonpositivist and democratic framework, Fischer proposes redesigning bureaucratic institutions to counter their “managerial bias” by encouraging “participatory expertise” in community cooperatives, democratized work settings, “alternative technology projects,” “new social movements,” and achieving social reconstruction via a form of “political ergonomics” in policy making (Fischer, 1990, pp. 7-11 and 13-35). This analysis has implications for across-the-board educational reform.

Liberal Culture and Everyday Politics

A second useful area is radical theory’s emphasis on practical political culture as “lived culture,” the politics of everyday life, and schooling as an actual experience. While frequently argued in abstract terms (for example, resistance, cultural reproduction, and correspondence theory), the basic point of the struggles, the commonplace, the agony and the ecstasy of everyday work, school life, and community interactions is that these chronicles are real experiences. Accounts of them enlighten the reader; evoke empathy, understanding, and compassion for those whose daily lives are very different from political science textbooks or televised soap-opera myths. Thus, there is some congruence with the subfield of political science/behavior which studies political “patterns in everyday life.” To illustrate, Peterson (1990) summarized research on “ordinary people” and politics, including the politics of sex, family, workplace, clubs, religion, and media. For example, the person on the street thinks of politics as the government (state), power, and influence; as functions and evaluations; and as political actors. Ordinary people see politics as part of church, family, work, and club life.

In terms of decision making, the family had the greatest effect on participation and efficacy levels and the church the least influence. This study corroborated the powerful effects of education and income on influencing decision making and ← 62 | 63 → decision makers, whether in interest groups, clubs, or traditional forms of political participation. Merely acknowledging that politics happens in everyday life translates into greater influence over decision making in such group settings. Peterson concludes that while SES, education, and gender influence civic orientations and political decision-making participation, it is equally true that greater political efficacy and participation in decision making in everyday institutions also influence formal political decision making and increased participation (Peterson, 1990, pp. 39-55).

Politics of/and Education

Also interesting is the concept of politics and education and the politics of education. Reconceptualists propose that politics is an educational process, while schooling is infused with political content, meanings, processes, and structures. Recognizing the state’s role in schooling, the correspondence and reproduction theories, and the schools as independent sites for transformative democratic practices and principles all point to the unity of politics and education as well as the politics of the educational process. The formal and informal, overt and hidden, political and social curriculum is just one aspect of this unity in a democratic political polity between politics and education.

Furthermore, as Richard Merelman (June 1980, pp. 319-320) said when criticizing the hidden curriculum’s alleged socially harmful effects, the problematic role of the schools in teaching democracy “is not just an educational problem, for education is a major arena of public policy. Educational failures are, ipso facto, policy failures.” The failures of democratic education are also those of American politics.

Class, Gender, and “Minority” Status

Political science is also interested in the critical perspective on class, gender, race, and minority status in schools and the society. Though less developed than the class perspective on schooling, the emerging critique of patriarchy, the socially and individually destructive nature of racial and minority discrimination, and the related treatment of the powerless by the economically and politically privileged (in supposedly democratic societies) inform the field of political science. This should subsequently influence its professional agenda, obligations, and acceptable topics for research and analysis. For example, political socialization studies must not only deal with majoritarian values, processes, and knowledge, but also with alternative perspectives. Moreover, the pattern of social, economic, and political discrimination and the public’s knowledge, feelings, and behaviors on this topic are necessary components of any new research agenda on political socialization, especially that conducted in a cross-national perspective. ← 63 | 64 →

The Social Dimension of Schooling

A related area of critical educational thought involves educational systems and developmental patterns. Certain radically oriented researchers examined patterns of educational growth, development, and experimentation in third-world and developing socialist systems. For example, these studies focused on the collective, group, and social dimensions of schooling as contrasted with the individualized mission of American and capitalist schooling. These findings not only show the degree to which changes in basic educational skills (such as literacy) are possible, but also the extent to which a social dimension to schooling can be successfully planned and developed. Teaching cooperation, teamwork, and group creativity is important. “Team” control over the work, standard setting, problem solving, or decision making tasks and other aspects of schooling (beyond individualism, olympic-style competition, and discriminatory grading practices) is important for both postindustrial capitalistic and developing countries (Carnoy and Werthein, 1977).

Democratic Personalities in Their Social Contexts

Critical pedagogical theory’s resurrection and appropriation of the Frankfurt School’s and the American social reconstructionist philosophical traditions is significant to political science’s renewed interest in pro-democratic and antiauthoritarian personality characteristics as well as their social and cultural manifestations, interactions, and reinforcements. For example, the earlier work of Fromm, Adorno, and Marcuse on empirical-theoretical links, the authoritarian personality’s “escape from freedom,” and the process of dialectical interrogation across the cultural spectrum (for example, media, politics, aesthetics, and education) is valuable in creating “the sane society.” This is especially true with the end of the cold war because the nationalistic imperatives engendered for over 40 years in the West impacted authoritarianism and its cultural correlates (such as antiauthoritarianism and democracy) in the US and other countries. Farnen (July 1991 and 1992), Meloen (1992), and Hagendoorn (November 1991) discussed the relevance of authoritarianism, militarism, nationalism, cultural hegemony, ethnocentrism, and dogmatism to the study of democracy and education.

Ethnography (Cultural Studies)

The progress which radical ethnographers, critical educational theorists, or English practitioners of cultural studies (such as Willis and Anyon) made in combining cultural studies and theoretical constructs with the ethnographic method shows the power of this qualitative approach to “thickly descriptive” analysis of “lived lives” and school “cultures.” To unravel the mysteries underlying significant questions (such as “Do schools really make any difference?”), critical ethnographers uncovered the basic outlines of hierarchy, cultural dominance, and class hegemony ← 64 | 65 → which operate in capitalist schools. In schools today, the correspondence and reproduction principles function along with strains of resistance and transformative possibility.

Policy Making and Political Socialization

Critical social science research in public/educational policy making and for political socialization research is also valuable. While many critical educational theorists dismiss much of the work on political socialization and educational politics and decision making as theoretically uninformed, liberally biased, and counterproductive for depicting both the reality of schooling and the possibility for reform, they offer few constructive alternatives, models, or actual case studies as a more viable approach. However, the work of Willis, et al. (1988) on the social conditions of youth in Wolverhampton, England provides some insight. This radical policy research and cultural studies project focused on a local economy, youth unemployment, relevant survey findings, and a “qualitative” picture of youth culture and local youth services. Its goal was development of “a policy and institutional framework capable of grasping the full range of needs of young adults and empowered to respond to them in a coordinated and integrated way” (Willis, et al., 1988, p. 3).

Policy proposals based on this research study include coordinating local policy, structuring (not individualizing) concepts of unemployment, combating redundancy and victimization approaches, establishing empowerment through problem self-definition, developing a collective focus on a “policy/services/resources” package, and trying “riskier” and more liberating policies than now exist. Even more specific policy proposals for a local council, enlightened policy statement, bureaucratic restructuring, and a town “youth site” are proposed in accordance with a youth-developed “charter” (Willis, et al., 1988, pp. 231-243). This type of action-oriented and theoretically informed research could be applied to political socialization, multicultural education, and civic education curriculum projects in other research settings.

The Hidden and Explicit Curricula

New left and neo-Marxist discussions of the “hidden curriculum” (as versus the formal curriculum) not only interest political scientists and educators, but they actually provoked a heated debate in American Political Science Review during 1980 and 1981. At that time, two prominent political scientists (Richard Merelman and M. Kent Jennings) engaged in a spirited exchange. Merelman (June 1980) claimed that democratic schooling did not seem to make much difference, whereas Jennings (June 1980) held that it did. (For an evaluation of this exchange, see Farnen, 1990, pp. 54-61; also see Merelman, March 1981, and Jennings, March 1981, for their final views on this subject.) ← 65 | 66 →

When this debate continued the following year, it mainly devolved into an argument about which scholar could provide more statistics supporting the influence of education on democratic values. More to the point is Giroux’s perspective on the Merelman argument, which he terms part of “the liberal problematic.” Giroux (in Giroux and Purpel, 1983) faults Merelman (ignoring Jennings) for not seeing that the intraschool division he describes “may have its roots in the dominant society” (that is, in “the very nature of capitalist society” which restricts democracy to politics and inequality to economics). Instead, Giroux attributes to Merelman characteristics that typify “the liberal perspective in general” (that is, “little or no understanding” of how social conditions create “oppressive features of schooling,” as well as “the ideological texture of school life”). There is no room in the liberal view for evaluating “contradictory knowledge claims” or explaining both how such a “reality” emerged or how it may be successfully resisted through “critical thinking or constructive dialogue.” The alternative, radical approach to the hidden curriculum does not merely dismiss the phenomenon as a “structural constraint” or consensus-producing techniques, but rather uses it as a “focus on conflict” and “on social structures and the construction of meaning” (that is, it questions reproduction, “dominance,” “exploitation,” and class “inequality”) (Giroux and Purpel, 1983, pp. 54-56; Giroux and Penna, 1981, pp. 209-230).

These three perspectives show that there is both a pluralism in (and division among) political science views about the hidden curriculum. It is also relevant to current disciplinary discourse and its modernistic “great conversation.” But radical critics obviously hit a very sore spot by attacking present formulations of democratic schooling. This discussion illustrates the lack of engagement and what Giroux called “constructive dialogue” between the radical and traditional political science communities. The Merelman-Jennings debate lost sight of the radical critique, posed an alternative model, quarreled over the democratic relevance of schooling, and heaped statistical evidence (minus any theoretical underpinnings) on one another without a real debate over the radical critique up by the phrase “the hidden curriculum.” None of the information in the American political socialization and ethnographic literature on class and racial divisions (the work of Litt, Jaros, Greenberg, et al., reprinted in Bell, 1973, pp. 91-128 and 189-299; Anyon, 1979 and 1980) was discussed. Nor were the radical critics asked to reply to the terms of this debate. This left a huge silence instead of useful answers. Such deficiencies surely need correction in future encounters of this sort.

Political Education

Finally, we focus on civic education, citizenship, and political education. The utility of the radical critique in this respect is its formulations of both the “hidden curriculum” and other useful constructs (such as resistance and the possibility of transforming schools which may exert a liberating and emancipatory influence on ← 66 | 67 → students, teachers, and the society itself). This critique is holistic in its approach because schooling is placed in the context of the home, media, job, and across all groups, institutional, individual, internal, and external agents and levels in a lifelong perspective.

Since the radical critique has mostly been at the theoretical level (because of its roots in classic and neo-Marxist, Gramsci, Friere, Dewey, and Frankfurt School analysis), the details of how one creates a radical curriculum (that is, educational praxis) have not been superabundant. But we now have some indications of what this more mundane aspect of schooling actually means.

As an alternative to traditional models, Apple and King want schools to move beyond mere reproduction of work and rhetorical humanistic models to a Gramscian analysis of the school site as an ideological setting by asking: Whose interests do the schools serve? How are cultural and economic capital distributed? Can institutions “enhance meaning and lessen control?” What are these social interests? But they expect no consensual or monolithic answers (Apple and King, 1983, pp. 82-99). Giroux’s “new sociology of curriculum” is also based on the answers to questions about the curriculum, such as: What is such knowledge? How is it produced? How does the classroom reproduce the workplace? Where does its legitimacy come from? In whose interests? How are “contradictions and tensions” over knowledge mediated? And, what legitimizing role does evaluation play? (Giroux, 1981b, p. 104). Giroux’s view of citizenship education as evoking civic courage among an active, involved, public-minded citizenry to produce just and democratic communities also sets a context for such interrogations. Still other radical political economists applaud Piagetian active cognitive formulations and reject Kohlberg’s moral stages as an irrelevant discourse about moral development without a basis in “the coordinates of social action” (Huebner, 1981, p. 134). Yet, Giroux and Purpel (1983, pp. 61-81) think enough of Kohlberg to include his piece on “the moral atmosphere of the school.”

Radical democratic educators have not yet come to terms with stage, developmental, moral, or structural/functional cognitive theory or with decision making, problem solving, or cross-national political socialization findings. An entire generation of recent research in these areas remains beyond the pale of the reconceptualists (Farnen, July 1991 and November 1991). While these findings might benefit from post-hoc critical pedagogical scrutiny, it might be more fruitful for radical educationists to join such cross-national research projects to influence the questions asked of whom as well as when, where, and why we should ask them. In this respect, the more culture-bound Anglo-Saxon theoretical constructs which inform critical social science and educational study in the US, UK, and Germany (for example, the liberal and neoconservative critique) may be quite inappropriate in a former state-socialist-command economic/political system (such as Hungary), whereas the correspondence, resistance, and implicit curriculum concepts may fare better. An Hungarian listening to a neo-Marxian analyze schooling might think ← 67 | 68 → these missionaries of the left had arrived 45 years too late since they have only just begun to develop the market, democracy, civil society, or opportunities for choice among competing public philosophies and policies.


In assessing the relevance of reconceptualism to political science, political education, and political socialization, the great virtue of this diverse school of thought (which is united only through a common political economy, social justice, and transformational nexus) is its dialectical and interrogatory approach to schooling, the state, politics, social traditions, and the economy. In performing this controversial and often negative critique, the uninitiated reader has no secure curriculum, evaluation, or teaching technique safety net. Although the neophyte reader is exposed to a myriad of “what’s wrongs and what not to dos,” there are “silences” about what will work and why. For example, critical pedagogy does not enlighten us about developmental stages or stances or about cognitive psychology, schema theory, and/or whether these ideas can be radicalized, reconceptualized, or made to withstand rigorous interrogation. While not differing much from humanistic evaluators, radical critics often focus on teacher training rather than on the teachers of teachers and/or students, curriculum, and instruction (that is, the latter is perhaps the actual “stuff” of schooling). While an educational philosophy is admirable and an enlightened theory may emancipate us all, there is also a danger of orthodoxy, intolerance, and conformity to one theoretical principle: that espoused by the political economists of schooling. Consequently, the reader must keep track of who is up and who is down on the list of acceptable reconceptualists or “right thinkers.” Adding to the confusion, radical theorists score their hits and errors differently.

There is also a potentially dogmatic strain in the radical critique, which itself must be offset through a commitment to honest dialogue and debate. This purpose is not well served when the opposition is demonized as the “enemy,” using schools and other “ideological state apparatuses” to spread reproduction-based “myths” of pluralism and liberalism. Excoriating the conservative philosophy of schooling as essentially undemocratic is one thing, but linking the “misguided” liberal innocenti as fellow travelers of the right wing is quite another. While conservatives may be as economically deterministic as the most radical neo-Marxists, 20th century social liberals have merely to reorganize their political views along more social democratic and critical educational lines to reach a working consensus with the critical left.

And so it might go with other topics on the US national agenda. These include the probable critical stand on individuals and teachers determining what both learn in school, the need for commonality in theory, but an appreciation of multi-culturalism while working to offset race/class/gender oppression in both schools ← 68 | 69 → and society, and opposing values “transmission” in favor of their mutual development through a liberating curriculum process.

These are just a few of the primary issues in the American educational debate in addition to those previously mentioned, such as parental educational vouchers (“choice”), merit pay, antidiversity, competition, and the America 2000 educational policy agenda (Klein, 25 August 1991, pp. 4-7). To be more effective, the radical critique could be deployed for or against such conservative policy proposals (or partially in favor of certain social liberal alternatives). Not to be more fully involved in this debate is to allow the strong forces of resurgent traditionalism and phoney individualism to go unchallenged and uninterrogated. After all, radical pedagogy and social science are both internally and externally controversial – as both its fundamental nature and developmental designs oblige reconceptualism to be.


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Wood, G. (Spring 1982). “Beyond Radical Educational Cynicism,” pp. 55-71 in Educational Theory, Vol. 32, No. 2.

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Part 2
Media Use, Government, and Websites

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Chapter 5
Media Use in the United States: Electronic Media Dramatically Up and Print Media Down

Daniel B. German

Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA

Caitlin Lally

Communications Assistant for the National Governors Association, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA


This research project traces the media use habits of children and adults. Over time, television consumption is increasing even though computer and Internet activities are also rapidly increasing. The American people are consuming greater amounts of electronic media while traditional newspaper use is declining. It appears that people are not connecting face to face as much as in the past and live more and more in the individualized world of media. Furthermore, a digital divide based on socio-economic status and race is evident. Blacks use television more than Whites and Hispanics and African Americans and Hispanics use the computer less than Whites. Both of the developments of increased media use and the digital divide do not bode well for 1) building the social capital of connectedness, and 2) widening access to political information which fuels democracy. The political socialization process and hence American political culture are developing new patterns which should be carefully monitored in the future.


The most comprehensive media study in existence for children is administered and distributed by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The first comprehensive report released was in 1999, called Kids and Media at the New Millennium, which was the primary data source used for our previous research project, “Television and the Internet’s Effects on the Socialization of American Children” (German and Lally, 2005). As the Kaiser Family Foundation found it necessary to update their report in 2004 due to significant changes in media technology, it is important to continue to write about what types of implications these significant changes have for the future of American society. Furthermore, it is necessary to examine the patterns of media use by all Americans – not just children – as the current trend in the US has become particularly focused on a consumer society in which the individual reigns supreme and participation in community activities is increasingly absent. To supplement what the Kaiser Family Foundation has done for children, the US Department of Commerce has put together “A Nation Online,” a two-part publication exploring ← 77 | 78 → how Americans use the Internet and the effects of the rapidly growing broadband technologies on media consumption, and a study released by the Pew Research Center entitled “Internet News Takes Off” (Pew Research Center, 2005). Although these studies are not as comprehensive as the Kaiser project, they serve as a good indication about who is accessing what types of media and what they are concerned about while searching information. The issues most prevalent in American society related to media use tend to be 1) access, 2) amount of daily media use, and 3) content of media. These three factors are extremely important because not only do they result in a lack of participation in community activities (social capital), but also access and information quality may be a major contributing factor in what is known as the “digital divide” between socio-economic classes. This chapter begins with a discussion of the previous research and conclusions of several scholars, followed by a profile of American children’s and adults’ media consumption habits and access, and ends with a brief discussion of the implications these trends have for American society and politics.

Past and Present: Where Does American Society Stand Today When Compared to the Past?

In 2000, Robert Putnam released his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Since then, he has been considered one of the premier scholars on the issue of the waning fund of social capital in the US: “Civic engagement and social capital entail mutual obligation and responsibility for action” (Putnam, 2000, p. 21). He and many other scholars believe that the only way to repair social connections in the US is “to ask how the positive consequences of social capital – mutual support, cooperation, trust, institutional effectiveness – can be maximized and the negative manifestations – sectarianism, ethnocentrism, corruption – minimized” (Putnam, 2000, p. 22). According to Putnam, one form of social capital that is important to look at is participation in politics. While Americans participate at roughly the same levels as other democracies worldwide, albeit a bit lower in voter turnout, the important differences appear when examining what Putnam calls “inter and intra generational cohorts” (Putnam, 2000, pp. 32-27). Putnam says that while it is true that there are wide gaps in voter participation and general interest in politics both between generations and when comparing people of similar ages in differing decades, he believes that these are just the most visible symptoms of a larger problem that faces the American nation. While voting and information gathering can be done relatively alone, things like party identification and volunteering in political campaigns are more community-based activities that add to social networks. Party identification has dropped from around 75% in the 1960s to lower than 65% in the 1990s (Putnam, 2000, p. 38). The levels at which people worked for a party in the 1980s and 1990s have dropped by nearly 50% from the 1950s and 1960s; however, the number of people contacted by the parties ← 78 | 79 → was nearly 2.5 times greater in 1996 than in 1968 (Putnam, 2000, p. 39). Putnam notes that it is very hard to reconcile this fact and the growing intake of capital by the political parties, but he concludes that this is an indication of the “professionalization and commercialization of politics in America” and that this growth of money in politics simply has created professional politics aimed at mass marketing strategies (Putnam, 2000, pp. 39-49). Another important aspect of social capital is civic participation – in what numbers and how often are Americans participating in groups? Alexis de Tocqueville famously wrote:

Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations. There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand different types – religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute ... Nothing, in my view, deserves more attention than the intellectual and moral associations in America (cited in Putnam, 2000, p. 48).

However, the associations of today are truly a different beast from what de Tocqueville observed over 170 years ago. Increasingly, groups that have been founded after 1965 have mass membership and are what Putnam calls “mailing list organizations” (Putnam, 2000, p. 51). His example is the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in which fewer than 10% of its 33 million members actually attend any type of meeting. For many associations in the US today, there is little to no interaction; the only type of involvement necessary is writing and mailing a check (Putnam, 2000, p. 51). Putnam believes that it is important that we differentiate between these new types of organizations, which he refers to as “tertiary associations” where there is no social contact, and organizations like prayer groups or gardening clubs, which are called secondary associations. In tertiary associations, members’ ties are to common beliefs and leaders but not to each other (Putnam, 2000, p. 52). As an example of the decline in participation of Americans in chapter-based organizations, Putnam cites the case of Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs). During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Parent Teacher Associations were at the height of their membership, with nearly 50% of parents with children under the age of 18 in school attending PTA meetings. Today, that membership level has decreased to less than 20% of parents with school-aged children participating in PTA meetings (Putnam, 2000, p. 57). So, Putnam points out that while many people look at growing membership trends in organizations, this may not be an accurate predictor of Americans’ levels of civic engagement (Putnam, 2000, p. 58). We must look at active and involved membership encompassing face-to-face contact with members of a community.

A third type of social capital that Putnam discusses is religious participation. Members of religious groups are more likely to participate in other civic and political organizations. About 50% to 60% of churchgoing members volunteer at some organization as opposed to 30% to 35% of non-members (Putnam, 2000, ← 79 | 80 → p. 67). Religious organizations have been at the cornerstone of many historic American movements – in particular the civil rights movement:

The Black church functioned as the institutional center of the modern civil rights movement ... Churches provided the movement with an organized mass base; a leadership of clergymen largely economically independent of the larger white society and skilled in the art of managing people and resources; an institutionalized financial base through which the protest was financed; and meeting places where the masses planned tactics and strategies and collectively committed themselves to the struggle (Putnam, 2000, p. 68).

While there is much debate about what should be classified as church membership and which records are right – Gallup polls or church records – Putnam (2000, p. 72) concludes that claiming church membership and actual attendance have two different measures. While Americans are 10% less likely to claim church membership now than in the 1950s and 1960s, they are anywhere from 25% to 50% less likely to actually attend any church services. Some of the gaps in this data come particularly from people who claim a religion, but do not attend church (Putnam, 2000, p. 72). Again, as discussed in relation to political and civic engagement, significant religious participation can be seen between generational cohorts. People today are attending church in fewer numbers than people in similar age categories in the 1950s and 1960s and American churches today are far less engaged in the community, which only contributes to the declining social connectedness within communities (Putnam, 2000, p. 79). Specifically, “the boomers” born in the years immediately after World War II where an estimated two-thirds who were raised religious, “dropped out” of their religious tradition, as described by Wade Clark Roof and William McKinney:

Large numbers of young, well-educated, middle class youth ... defected from the churches in the late sixties and the seventies ... Some joined new religious movements, others sought personal enlightenment through various spiritual therapies and disciplines, but most simply ‘dropped out’ of organized religion altogether ... [The consequence was a] tendency toward highly individualized religious psychology without the benefits of strong supportive attachments to believing communities. A major impetus in this direction in the post-1960s was the thrust toward greater personal fulfilment and quest for the ideal self ... In this climate of expressive individualism, religion tends to become ‘privatized,’ or more anchored in the personal realms (cited in Putnam, 2000, p. 74).

Why is American Society Losing Social Capital?

Most of the time when pollsters ask Americans why they tend not to participate in civic activities, the answer is “I don’t have time.” The number of Americans who “always feel rushed” has more than doubled since the 1960s (Putnam, 2000, p. 89). While there is still much debate, most economists fall into one of two categories when discussing whether or not Americans work more today than they did in the 1950s and 1960s. Some economists, such as Ellen McGrattan and Richard ← 80 | 81 → Rogerson, say that Americans are working about the same number of hours per week as they have been since World War II (Putnam, 2000, p. 190). However, there are some economists, such as John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey, who say that Americans actually have about 6.2 more hours of free time on average than they did in the 1950s. These economists attribute this figure to improved technology for housework, fewer children, and early retirement (Putnam, 2000, p. 190). While it may seem that some free time has been gained, scholars believe that this gain in leisure time seems only to affect less educated classes of people. In 1969, highly educated people worked an average of six hours more per week than high school educated people and in 1998, they worked 13 hours more per week. However, even if certain segments of the population seem to be busier than others, there is actually a positive correlation between number of hours worked and civic engagement (Putnam, 2000, p. 191).

As society progresses, technology, specifically the technology of communication, has become more and more present in our daily lives. Since 1948, television has increasingly become an important aspect of Americans’ lives. Putnam (2000, p. 217) quotes T.S. Elliot as having observed television as “a medium of entertainment, which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain alone.” However, the first forms of mass communication were not visual or audio mediums like television and radio, but newspapers. Alexis de Tocqueville described the importance of the newspaper in civic engagement:

When no firm and lasting ties any longer unite men, it is impossible to obtain the cooperation of any great number of them unless you can persuade every man whose help is required that he serves his private interests by voluntarily uniting his efforts to those of all the others. That cannot be done habitually and conveniently without the help of a newspaper. Only a newspaper can put the same thought at the same times before a thousand readers. So hardly any democratic association can carry on without a newspaper (cited in Putnam, 2000, p. 218).

Still today, newspaper readers continue to be the most well-educated and the citizens most likely to participate in civic life. However, the number of people who read newspapers has declined rapidly in the past couple of decades as people turn more and more to electronic media (Putnam, 2000, pp. 218-219). Further, while Americans spend a great deal of time watching the television, like people who read the news, the number of people who watch the news is also on the decline.

Putnam says it is important to consider the fact that nothing has had a more profound effect on leisure time in the US than television, and the longitudinal effects the Internet will have on our society have only just begun to appear (2000, p. 221). The proliferation of mass communication technology such as television and the Internet has dramatically changed the way Americans live their lives. Statistics compiled by analysts tell us that annually, Americans watch 250 billion hours of television each year and the average number of hours a day per household ← 81 | 82 → that the television is switched on is 6 hours and 47 minutes. We also know that each year, the average American child will spend about 900 hours in school and about 1,500 hours watching television. This intrusion of television into our lives is creating a consumerist culture in which by age 65, an American will have seen over 2 million commercials. The top 100 television advertisers spent over $15 billion selling products to the American people (Herr, 2001). Research on how television is affecting the American public has been going on for some time and leaders of the medical community have long voiced their opinions on the negative consequences television may have. Critics blame television for the nation’s violence epidemic, poor self-image, and the sedentary nature of American society. A child will see nearly 8,000 murders on television before they leave elementary school and that number reaches 40,000 by the age of 18 (Herr, 2001). Experts say that television has become an addiction among the American public, with many “high television” watchers expressing five symptoms of dependency upon television, which is two more than needed to classify something as clinical substance abuse (Herr, 2001). A survey in 1995 also blames television for the 4.7 million children found to be “severely overweight” in the US. This same group watches an average of 22 hours of television per week and consumes a high-calorie diet – experts found 200 junk food commercials within a four-hour period of Saturday morning cartoons (Herr, 2001). Children are not the only ones to suffer from the obesity epidemic in the US; adults who watch three hours or more of television a day are much more likely to be severely overweight than those who watch less than half an hour a day (Herr, 2001). According to Nielsen Media Research (2005), Americans are watching television today in record levels.

While television viewing rates have increased across the US, the number of households with Internet access has also risen dramatically, from 54.6% in 2001 to 61.5% in 2003, and continues to grow (US Department of Commerce, 2004, p. 5). Americans use their Internet connections to communicate via e-mail, play games, listen to music, watch television or movies, purchase goods, bank, and get information. The Internet has allowed Americans to continue their consumerist ways without every having to leave their home. This is a trend that seems to be affecting young people the most; A Nation Online: How Americans are Expanding Their Use of the Internet (US Department of Commerce, 2002, p. 42), says that “by the age of 10 young people are more likely to use the Internet than adults at any age beyond 25.” The Internet is increasingly being used in the classroom. Some 84% of children aged 5 to 9 use the Internet at home, school, or both (US Department of Commerce, 2002, p. 44). However, in spite of pervasive Internet use in the classroom, major usage gaps exist between different age, racial, and socio-economic status groups. The Internet is a wonderful tool for education due to the wealth of information it provides, but as with television, it is not without concerns among parents. Parents continue to be worried about the types of inappropriate or dangerous material their children may be exposed to through Internet use. Of ← 82 | 83 → parents surveyed in A Nation Online (US Department of Commerce, 2002, p. 54), 46.9% indicated a concern about materials their children were being exposed to from the television and the Internet equally.

Doris A. Graber (2002) has found that African American households as well as Hispanic households are more reliant on television than are White families. However, she finds the greatest differences in how Americans use media between income levels: “High-income families, who usually are better educated than poor families, use print media more and television less than the rest of the population” (Graber, 2002, p. 202). However, Chadwick (2006, pp. 73-77) says that when explaining the digital divide in particular Internet usage, it is important to look at the variables of income, race, and education level as they are all strong indicators of the types of media consumed and the quality of the information being obtained. Chadwick (2006, p. 73) points out that it is important to note that demographic variables can be very closely related and these three in particular are strongly intercorrelated. Through an analysis of these variables from each study, income followed by education and then closely followed by race seems to be the most statistically significant variable when determining who has access to quality information and the Internet. However, Chadwick points out that these broad demographic variables do not necessarily explain why certain Americans are accessing the Internet and others are not. A study done by the University of Southern California indicates that those who access the Internet more often (typically younger, White, highly educated and upper income) use the Internet for a broad range of activities that shape their social, personal, and professional networks while expanding their knowledge, as opposed to those who access the Internet less often (who typically are in lower socio-economic groups), who do so mostly for entertainment (Chadwick, 2006, p. 75).

Television and the Internet: Important Sources of Political Socialization?

What role do the media play in shaping the identity of individuals? According to Huntemann and Morgan, media, particularly television, influence children’s “values, beliefs, dreams, and expectations” (2001, p. 311). Huntemann and Morgan (2001, p. 312) say that adolescence is the time the media play the largest role in helping to shape individuals’ identity. Studies show that media play a large role in shaping the identity of adolescents, who are searching for independence from family and society. A great deal of content analysis of television programs and commercials has been done and common findings report that media provide a quick way for children to learn what it means to be a boy or a girl (German and Lally, 2005). Despite progress in television in providing women with non-traditional roles, gender stereotypes still exist which are picked up in television use beginning in early childhood years. Huntemann and Morgan give as an example the use of ← 83 | 84 → teen magazines to define young girls’ femininity (2001, p. 314). It is alarming to think that there is a lack of studies of media effects on the sexual behaviors of adolescents, but there is a large pool of analysis of television programming with sexual content. Further, Huntemann and Morgan (2001, p. 315) perceive that sexual attractiveness is critical and for the majority of people, the comparisons that this invites are not healthy. In the development of an identity within society, this can lead to isolation, self-rejection, and an obsession with body image among adolescents. Content analysis of television programming also reveals that “sex” in the media refers to an unmarried, heterosexual couple. Gay and lesbian teens are excluded completely from the perceived television audience (Huntemann and Morgan, 2001, pp. 315-316).

Media portrayals also affect the socialization of minority children. Walter Gerson (1966) explores this in his article “Mass Media Socialization: Negro-White Differences.” Gerson suggests that African American children are in fact more socialized by mass media than are White children. They may even be using media, in particular the television, to learn how to behave more like White people. Gerson believes that this behavior is only perpetuating social segregation, a poor self-image among African American children, and highlighting the differences between communities (Gerson, 1966, pp. 40-50). The portrayal of minorities has deep historical roots, but negative images of minorities are repeated and normalized by keeping certain groups invisible (Huntemann and Morgan, 2001, p. 316). Statistics published by the Common Sense Media Poll report that, of the characters shown on prime time television, 3% are Asian, 4% are Latino, and 16% are African American; the remaining 74% are White. Also, 19% of prime time television characters are non-human, while only 17% are women (Key Findings, 2003). Content analyses have shown that, typically, minorities are associated with crime, violence, and substance abuse and are rarely seen in interracial interactions, unless it is with an authority figure. Researchers have found that because of the negative portrayal of minorities, minority children who watch a lot of television have a poor self-concept and do not want to participate in society outside of their community. As a result of the distorted view of African Americans in the media, African American children often reject their non-White, non-European heritage (Huntemann and Morgan, 2001, p. 316). The negative portrayal of minorities has come under much criticism by minority group leaders, yet minorities still remain some of the most active consumers of media. One theory as to why this occurs is what Oscar Gandy calls the “social construction of risk” (Gandy, 2001, pp. 600-618). Using content analysis and surveys, Gandy concludes that the depiction of both minorities and women in the media leads them to believe that the world is a dangerous place. Both women and African Americans feel they are more at risk in society for some type of crime or prejudiced treatment than White males (Gandy, 2001, pp. 600-618). ← 84 | 85 →

Many African Americans see racial biases in American media as a long-term trend. Michael Ryan (1982, pp. 276-289) tries to determine how minorities choose their media in order to avoid what they see as an emphasis on bad news and a suppression of good news in urban, minority, and low-income neighborhoods. This unfair depiction of minorities causes a negative self-image and may lead to a rejection of American culture as a whole and, therefore, poor socialization of minority citizens. It is plausible that the way the television media depict gender roles, sexuality, violence, and minorities could be contributing to the loss of social capital in the US as television increasingly grows to be a major aspect of socialization in the lives of Americans (German and Lally, 2005). Many experts believe that media portrayals of minorities are responsible for race-oriented political activities in the US (German, 1994; Chaffee and German, 1998). German (1994, pp. 285-297) observed the evident policy shift away from minority civil rights toward different types of policy by the Reagan administration and which led the American population to agree that minority groups were no longer disadvantaged in society. Using a content analysis of major news networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS), German determined that minority groups’ inability to remain in the media spotlight has caused problems with race relations in the US and has led to the attitude that these groups are no longer disadvantaged (1994, pp. 285-297). In 1998, Chaffee and German carried out a content analysis of three major newspapers (the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune) to determine what types of coverage minority citizens are receiving. They determined that the small amount of news coverage given to minorities, especially Hispanic Americans, coupled with the negative subject matter of the majority of this coverage, has provided a base for extremely negative attitudes among Americans toward minority groups (1998, pp. 312-320). Further, Kellstedt (2000) determined that the quality of media relations with minority groups determines political policy dynamics of race relations. Typically, an emphasis on individuality leads to conservative racial policy and an emphasis on egalitarianism leads to more liberal racial policies (Kellstedt, 2000, pp. 245-260). Individuality is more often the favorably portrayed media role today.


ISBN (Book)
Open Access
Publication date
2014 (May)
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 372 pp., 54 tables, 14 graphs

Biographical notes

Christ´l De Landtsheer (Volume editor) Russell Farnen (Volume editor) Daniel B. German (Volume editor)

Christ’l De Landtsheer, Professor of Communications Science, University of Antwerp (Belgium). Russell F. Farnen, Professor emeritus of Political Science, University of Connecticut (USA). Daniel B. German, Professor emeritus of Political Science, Appalachian State University (USA). Henk Dekker, Professor of Political Socialization and Integration, Leiden University (Netherlands). Heinz Sünker, Professor of Social Pedagogy and Social Policy, University of Wuppertal (Germany). Song Yingfa, Associate Professor, Director, Institute of Higher Education, China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou (China). Miao Hongna, Assistant Professor of Political Science, School of Government, Nanjing University, Nanjing (China).


Title: E-Political Socialization, the Press and Politics