Essay on Class, Socialization, and Politics

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Elections are at the core of the American political system. They are the way we choose our government, the source of government authority, and a means by which the people can influence public policy. For most Americans, voting is the only form of political participation. Essential questions to ask concerning these issues are: Who votes and why? What influences people to become voters? And what influences how they vote? It is important to approach these issues from a sociological standpoint addressing such matters as socialization and social stratification.

Socialization is a gradual process that takes place as we grow up. It is the process that aids in developing attitudes and opinions that allow us get along within a society. These
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(Introduction to Sociology Pg. 222) Within this class system are three broad overlapping categories: a working class, a middle class, and an upper class. People are placed within these categories based on their occupation, income, and wealth. The working class receives the lowest income and fills blue-collar jobs in factories and farms, as well as white-collar positions like clerical and secretarial jobs in offices. The middle class consists of professionals like teachers, engineers, small business people, and skilled workers. The upper class, often called the elite or ruling class is composed of those who run our major economic and political institutions and receive the highest earnings for doing so. Class as reflected in education, income, and occupation, does influence people’s attitudes on a variety of issues. People in the working class tend to be liberal in wanting greater economic equality and more programs dealing with social welfare. This liberalism on economic issues contrasts strongly with their ideas on civil liberties. Members of the middle class tend to be more conservative in their economic views and more liberal on issues such as free speech and respect for civil rights. Therefore, class attitudes on political questions are both liberal and conservative. The problem with figuring out how these various characteristics that divide the population influences a person’s political behavior is that
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