ERIC Number: ED394162
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-May-17
Reference Count: N/A
Linkages between Families and Political Extremism: A Theory of the Authoritarian Personality and Family System Dynamics.
This paper seeks to integrate some ideas from family systems theory and attachment theory within a theory of public opinion and social movement. Citing the classic "The Authoritarian Personality," the paper states that the first authorities children know, their parents or other caregivers, shape children's attitudes toward all authorities. The paper argues that family systems and attachment theories demonstrate how authoritarians' families help to form extreme political attitudes, noting that many scholars have viewed the family as a major socialization agent of political attitudes. The paper also notes that education tends to have a negative relationship with authoritarianism, whether defined as tolerance, prejudice, or dogmatism--formal schooling may have a liberating effect on authoritarian attitudes because of increased cognitive development; increased opportunity to meet people of varied backgrounds; and augmented political expertise and understanding of the importance of democratic principles. Future research work on the theory will connect key concepts to social movements--two concepts are especially useful, family "dysfunction" and "multigenerational transmission process." The paper concludes that a systems theory of family socialization, public opinion, and social movements, based on these concepts, would focus on the distribution of dysfunctions in families within a community or a society, studying in particular which kinds of people tend to be aroused to action by various types of movements and what conditions foster right-wing attitudes versus left-wing attitudes. Contains 3 figures, a table, 12 notes, and 128 references. (NKA)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Dysfunctional Family; Extremism; Family Systems Theory; Social Movements; Theory Development
Note: Paper presented at the Meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (50th, Salt Lake City, UT, May 17, 1996).