The process of political socialization, as shown by numerous findings, is characterised as the transmission of political action and behaviour through the generations. In connection with the political changes the Czech Republic experienced since 1945, not only the prospect of generational continuity but also discontinuity come into consideration. The article deals with the influence of parents and other socialization factors on political self-identification in the Czech population. It focuses mainly on the major age groups: young people up to the age of 29, the younger middle generation of 30–44 years, the older middle generation of 45–59 years and individuals aged 60 years or older, and their parents.
The starting point of the considerations is the theory of social change and the interconnection of political socialization on the micro and macro levels.
The paper analyses the circumstances of socialization and its effects on political orientation in a representative sample of Czech population (N = 522). The basis for determining the impact of socialization was set as the intensity of interest in political events together with the main resources affecting political orientation such as self-education and reading, followed by parental influence. The ratio of father’s and mother’s communist orientation plus their interest in politics accounted for the other socialization factors.Political background of the respondents was compared with their self-identification on the left-right political scale. Correlation analysis helped highlight the significance of father’s influence, rather than mother’s,in the process of political socialization. It also showed an overall negative impact of parental political discussion on the formation of left-right orientation. ANOVA analysis demonstrated astrong relationship between socio-occupational status and political inclusion. This inclusion effect was more frequent among left-wing labourers and pensioners and right-wing entrepreneurs, tradesmen, students and apprentices.
Not only social background but also age signalled significant differences in opinions. The youngest generation as a whole relates to the right wing of the political spectrum. At the same time, the generation of 60+ is inclined to the left of the centre. As a matter of fact, this group, more than other age groups, is interested in political events and is deeply involved in political discussions. The young generation manifests itself in both directions. Parents’ political socialization actions towards their children induced agreement with parental political orientation only to a lesser extent. The study also dealt with two influences, sometimes mutually supportive and other times competing, namely parental socialization influence, political and economic conditions. Attitudes to social and political situation differed between age groups. The influence of society-level circumstances is more significant than that of parental political socialization.
It was possible to observe political continuity between the generations of 60+, or even their parents, and the older middle generation aged 45–59. When there is mostly continuity between them and their children then discontinuity tends to arise between them and their parents. The distribution of political orientation reveals a dynamic field. Attitudes to changes in society vary between generations as well. During the shaping of political orientation, the influence of social and political conditions is more decisive than political action, no matter how good its intentions are. This confirms the concept of political socialization as a way in which individual socialization interacts with one’s social position due to various social factors.