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Political socialization, political gender gaps and the intergenerational transmission of left-right ideology

Aufsätze referiert extern - Web of Science

Mathilde M. van Ditmars

In: European Journal of Political Research (online first) (2022),


While left and right are the main terms to distinguish political views in Western Europe, the family socialization of citizens has mainly been studied in terms of partisan preferences rather than identification with these ideological blocks. Therefore, this study investigates the intergenerational transmission of left-right ideological positions in two European multiparty systems. To investigate expectations regarding gendered patterns in political socialization, ideological transmission between mothers, fathers, daughters and sons are analyzed, making use of German and Swiss household data. The results underline the relevance of the family in the transmission of political ideology in multiparty systems, showing high contemporary parent–child concordance in ideological positioning in line with classic work in political socialization. Moreover, the study demonstrates how the gender-generation gap in political ideology is consequential for this process. Young women consistently place themselves on the left of men across all combinations of parental ideology, which indicates that the gender-generation gap trumps other gendered patterns in intergenerational transmission. Consequently, daughters are less likely than sons to take over their parents’ rightist positions, while parent–son transmission is equally large on the left and the right. This also means that left-leaning parents have a general advantage over right-leaning parents in having their ideological identification reproduced by their daughters. The study highlights the importance of differentiating between the transmission of left- and right-wing ideology in political socialization processes. Moreover, it demonstrates that the distinction by offspring gender is imperative when studying the intergenerational transmission of traits that display gender differences within and between parental and offspring generations. The findings point at the active role of especially female offspring in the political socialization process, as they seem to be more strongly impacted by influences outside the family that sustain generational processes of further gender realignment.

Themen: Gender, Familie

Keywords: political socialization; intergenerational transmission; parental socialization; left-right ideology; political gender gap; gender-generation gap
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