Indoctrination is the process of inculcating a person with ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or professional methodologies (see doctrine). Humans are a social animal inescapably shaped by cultural context, and thus some degree of indoctrination is implicit in the parent–child relationship, and has an essential function in forming stable communities of shared values.
In the political context, indoctrination is often analyzed as a tool of class warfare, where institutions of the state are identified as “conspiring” to maintain the status quo. Specifically the public educational system, the police, and mental health establishment are a commonly cited modus operandi of public pacification. In the extreme, an entire state can be implicated. George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four famously singled out explicit, state-mandated propaganda initiatives of totalitarian regimes. Opinions differ on whether other forms of government are less doctrinaire, or merely achieve the same ends through less obvious methods.
The precise boundary between education and indoctrination often lies in the eye of the beholder. Some distinguish indoctrination from education on the basis that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned. As such the term may be used pejoratively or as a buzz word, often in the context of political opinions, theology, religious dogma or anti-religious convictions.
The term is closely linked to socialization; however, in common discourse, indoctrination is often associated with negative connotations, while socialization functions as a generic descriptor conveying no specific value or connotation (some choosing to hear socialization as an inherently positive and necessary contribution to social order, others choosing to hear socialization as primarily an instrument of social oppression). Matters of doctrine (and indoctrination) have been contentious and divisive in human society dating back to antiquity. The expression attributed to Titus Lucretius Carus in the first century BCE quod ali cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum (what is food to one, is to others bitter poison) remains pertinent.
The act of indoctrinating, or the condition of being indoctrinated
Instruction in the rudiments and principles of any science or belief system; information.