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Conference Paper BHPS-2009 Conference: the 2009 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 9-11 July 2009, Colchester, UK

The endurance of family political socialization after leaving the parents' household


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An abundant body of academic research shows that family members politically
influence each other. Indeed, partisanship is conceived by traditional political
socialization studies as the result of a process of value socialization within the family
(Greenstein 1965, Hess and Torney 1965, Acock and Bengtson 1978, Westholm 1999,
Niewbeerta and Wittebrood 1995, Jaime 2000 among others).
The availability of new individual level panel data is bringing questions related to
political family socialization back to the forefront (see Kroh and Selb 2005, Zuckerman
et al. 2007). Recent research goes beyond the notion of children being socialized by
parents and applies the concept of bounded rationality to explain why family members
tend to share political preferences. It is argued that individuals partisan choice is shaped
by those with whom they have exceptionally high levels of interaction, trust, and
affection (Selb and Kroh 2005, Zuckerman et. al. 2007).
However, this recent research generally assumes that the mutual political influence
among family members takes place when they live together. Accordingly, empirical
analyses that use individual panel data are limited to family members in the same
household. Yet the following question arises: Does family remain a source of political
influence once offspring leave the parental home? New individual panel data can help
examine if the similarity of preferences between parents and children goes beyond the
years in which they live together and test the traditional understanding of partisanship as a long term preference gained through early socialization.
Thus this paper engages with current research and adopts a longitudinal perspective to
look beyond the period in which children live together with their parents. I analyze how
party preferences change once young persons become independent and leave the
parental household. Do respondents remain loyal to the political preferences “adopted”
within their family once they live independently? Does the length of the time leaving
with parents determine the extent of the socialization effects? I test these two questions
applying a fixed effects model and a count model to the data of the BHPS from 1991 to


Politics and Sociology Of Households



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