Young People's Understandi of Politics and Economics
Adrian Furnham University College London
Socialization is generally defined as a process through which individuals learn to interact in society. It concerns learning social roles and acquiring the knowledge and skills related to them. So far comparatively little research has been done on economic and political socialization than on other aspects of social development (e.g., moral development). Still less had been done on how knowledge and beliefs are acquired as opposed to the content of the knowledge base ( Berti & Bombi, 1988; Haste & Torney- Purta, 1992). Furthermore, it has not been until comparatively recently that researchers have looked at young people's reasoning about economic and political issues (see Torney-Purta, this volume).
A detailed examination of the economic and political socialization of children and adolescents is of both academic and applied interest. In Great Britain, in 1990, 14- to 16-year-olds had nearly £10 per week in disposable cash. In West German 7- to 15-year-olds received 7,5 billion DM of pocket money and monetary gifts in 1988, and the spending power of 12- to 21-year-olds even amounted to 33 billion DM annually. And of course in most Western democratic countries teenagers of 18 years are allowed to vote in local municipal and national elections. Young people have both political and economic power.
Many different aspects of young people's understanding and perception of the economic and political world, their attitudes toward money and possessions, and their spending and consumption habits are relevant to the teaching of economic principles in schools as well as to the research of psychologists, educationists, marketing people, and even to economists ( Furnham & Stacey, 1991).