The Journal of Politics

Research Notes

A Note on the Ambiguity of “Political Socialization”: Definitions, Criticisms, and Strategies of Inquiry

Fred I. Greensteina1

a1 Wesleyan University

“Political socialization” is a growth stock. The phrase seems never to have appeared in print before 1954, at which time it was introduced more or less in passing in the chapter on voting in the first edition of The Handbook of Social Psychology. This terminology was still exotic in 1959, when a book by Herbert Hyman entitled Political Socialization was published: as the book made clear, by that date not a single piece of research had been self-consciously carried out under the “political socialization” rubric, even though many research findings relevant to the topic could be extracted from the often quite fugitive literature on the development of children's social orientations.

Fred I. Greenstein, Professor of Government and departmental chairman at Wesleyan University, is the author of The American Party System and the American People (1963, 1970), Children and Politics (1964, 1969), and Personality and Politics: Problems of Evidence, Inference and Conceptualization (1969).