Socialization and political culture

Week 1

Class coordinatora

David Last


In the first class, we will confirm that everyone understands the structure and intent of the course design. It may surprise you how much freedom I expect you to exercise in pursuing the learning objectives. Particularly in the beginning, you will be uncomfortable with this latitude, and may want to be lectured to. I will try to resist the temptation to do so.

In week 1, we look at socialization and political culture. We’ll begin this by examining ourselves and each other: who are we? How did we get to be this way? What does it mean for society and for political action?

We’re staring with socialization and political culture because you are the subject of interest and you can approach this with minimum preparation. You’ll have to do some reading afterwards.

This week is particularly important both for Assignment 1 on identifying political phenomena, due very soon, and for Assignment 2 on designing research. It should also help you to understand why you hold the values, attitudes and beliefs that you do, and what that means for your political behaviour, and for those around you. Major political phenomena like protest movements (CCF, Reform in Canada; Trump, Sanders, Brexit abroad) are affected by political socialization, by structure, and by individual agency (Giddens). How you feel about markets and the economy is a function of socialization – usually later in life when you are a more independent economic actor. Training and education both play roles in socialization, so that RMC can be seen as a combination of socialization, education, and training. Pull back a bit to see the bigger picture of socialization, education, and training for security professionals around the world, and you see that it is a major factor in civil military relations and the role of military and police forces in politics. Why isn’t Canada coup-prone, when other countries are? What would the Bolivarian tradition look like applied to Canada, why doesn’t it exist, and what developments might move us in that direction? This thought experiment can help identify some of the political, economic, and social structures that shape socialization and political culture, within society, and within particular professions or other groups within society.

Learning objectives

Explain political socialization, its link to political culture, and its implications for governance.

Understand and explain key terms: political socialization, Political culture, Political participation, Political efficacy, Mass Media, Polls, Public Opinion, Subcultures, Formative events theory, Fragment theory, Staples theory, Political socialization, Agents of socialization (list), Effects of socialization, Structure and agency (Giddens)

Required reading

  • I’m assuming you won’t have read this in the first class, but should have by the second.
  • Dyck, Critical Approaches, Chapter 12 “political socialization, mass media, and opinion polls”
  • Dyck, Critical Approaches, Chapter 11 “Canadian political culture”


Weekly activities can be adjusted by class coordinators in consultation with the professor

Week 1 checklist of material

[1] Introduction from class coordinator – time allocation and sequence adjustment
[2] Current events of political significance (domestic, international) [60s]
[3] Review/amend focus of learning objectives [5D]
[4] Key terms [5D, GLI]
[5] Critical Approaches and Studying Politics [5D, GLI]
[6] External resources [class coordinator]
[7] Exam questions [5D, GLI]
[8] Looking ahead: next week’s class coordinator introduces (5D, GLI,15-20 minutes)

Suggested resources


Professors from MPL
A kindergarten teacher
Alan Whitehorn, RMC professor emeritus

Web sites and media

Shock Media on the left – PressProgress
Shock Media on the right – RebelMedia
Think tank on the right – Fraser Institute
Think tank on the left – Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Think tanks in the centre (?) – Institute for Research on Public Policy
What do you listen to? Lyrics can be powerful sources of socialization by combining poetry and music with emotional group events, and repetition: Neil YoungFashwaveDead Kennedys;
What do you watch? the science fiction classics of the post-war period include powerful political messages


Books and articles

Adams, M. (2009) Fire and Ice: The United States Canada And The Myth Of Converging Values. Toronto: Penguin

Adams, M. (2006) Sex in the Snow: The Surprising Revolution In Canadian Social Values. Toronto: Penguin

Tasseron, J. (2001). Military manning and the Revolution in Social AffairsCanadian Military Journal2(3), 54-56.

Joshee, R., Peck, C., Thompson, L. A., Chareka, O., & Sears, A. (2016). Multicultural education, diversity, and citizenship in Canada. In Learning from Difference: Comparative Accounts of Multicultural Education (pp. 35-50). Springer International Publishing.

Ticchi, D., Verdier, T., & Vindigni, A. (2013). Democracy, dictatorship and the cultural transmission of political values.

Van Ingen, E., & van der Meer, T. (2016). Schools or pools of democracy? A longitudinal test of the relation between civic participation and political socialization. Political Behavior, 38(1), 83-103.

White, S. E. (2016). 9 Do Younger and Older Immigrants Adapt Differently to Canadian Politics?. Just Ordinary Citizens?: Towards a Comparative Portrait of the Political Immigrant, 166.


Next up

20 minutes before the end of the last class in Week 1 we will stop to discuss what kinds of questions you want to explore and where you want to focus in week 2. This is a time-keeping responsibility for the Class coordinators.

The focus of week 2 on political inquiry is the nature knowledge and research on political subjects