Edited By Esther Thorson, Mitchell S. McKinney and Dhavan Shah
Chapter Seventeen: Political Socialization Patterns in Younger and Older American Adolescents
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Political Socialization Patterns IN Younger AND Older American Adolescents
HANS MEYER, MI JAHNG, AND ESTHER THORSON
In the 2008 presidential election, an estimated 23 million 18- to 29-year-olds voted, representing the second-largest turnout of youth voters in U.S. history (Circle, 2008). It should be noted, however, that youth (18–29) voter turnout in 2012 (45%) declined from 2008 (51%; America Goes to the Polls, 2013). In 2008, more than 65% of all youth voted for President Barack Obama. It is inappropriate to exclusively attribute this record number of young votes to the charismatic young candidate who made history by being elected the nation’s first African American president. In fact, political socialization, the process that leads young people to learn about, think about, and participate in a democracy, began long before any of these young citizens were eligible to vote.
The goal of the study reported in this chapter is to explore how political socialization changes over time during the teen years, and whether the causal processes that drive it also change over time. Using the first survey of the Future Voters Study (as described in the Introduction) fielded in the spring of 2008, about six months before the general election, we examine the factors that lead children ages 12–18 to participate politically, either online or offline, and how their age affects the process. We define political socialization as a network of responses in cognitive,...
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