An Insight into Sociology: Agents of Socialization


An Insight into SociologySocialization represents a process of learning the culture of one’s community and involves different kinds of so-called social agents. The following agents of socialization essay will therefore describe the four main types of agents as a part of the socialization process. Such agents generally include individuals, institutions and groups that form a specific context, in terms of which the process of socialization occurs. These agents of socialization usually embrace the norms and values of one’s culture and may vary depending on one’s race, gender and social class. Let us discuss the four main types of social agents, which include family, education, mass media and the market.

The major social agent is evidently a family union. This is the first and foremost social agent that has a great impact on one’s personality. The family union may be of different size and structure, while the influence of family on the formation of one’s self is not always universal. Furthermore, the cultural norms of nurturing, expression of parental affection and disciplinary measures adopted in the family may vary dramatically depending on the characteristics of a social group. It is generally considered that the western societies tend to be stricter towards the first-born children to make them achieve success in life and become more conformist. On the other hand, children who are born last are usually brought up with the help of less strict norms of discipline. That is why this category of children tends to be more flexible and sociable. Such children usually accept unconventional lifestyle and uncommon ideas. All families belong to specific class as a part of the society they live in. They also belong to different ethnic and racial groups. In the early years of life, the social position of an individual directly affects the formation of personality. According to the experts in this field, all of us inherit a range of dispositions that indicate our adherence to this or that social class. These dispositions include speech peculiarities, style of articulation, posture and physical behavior. All these aspects determine the kind of social interactions that make us feel comfortable. All of the above-mentioned dispositions are acquired by a person through the interaction with his/her family.

School also plays a significant role in the formation of one’s self. Middle-class children tend to be better equipped with the cultural values that are required for the process of socialization during the early years of life. Let us discuss the value of education, which is another important agent of socialization. Schools represent a collective environment in which children occupy different social positions and belong to different social groups. The official purpose of schools is to transmit knowledge to children and promote a number of values including respect, competition and honesty as well as individualism or collectivism. These are the norms that should be adopted by children in order to avoid cheating on exams and arguing with instructors. Children also learn how to interact with the authorities apart from peers and parents. Schools also introduce children to the evaluation of their abilities and knowledge with the help of the grading system and various records that are kept throughout the academic career of children.

It is also worth noting that schools greatly contribute to the inequality in the educational environment as a significant part of the social structure. Unequal treatment of students during their educational career can be found in many countries of the world. Some of the states have certain restrictions based on one’s gender, race or ethnic identity. In the United States, for instance, teachers tend to make differentiations in pre-school based on gender. Girls are often not allowed to behave in the boyish manner, so that they are often reprimanded by their teachers. On the other hand, boys are not allowed to act like girls, and often meet strict instructions from the school authorities. Boys are known to be more likely to disregard the verbal instructions, while girls are more sensitive to them. This is how education contributes to the gender differentiation in the school environment, which might affect the personality of a child in the later years of life.

Mass media represents another agent of socialization that has a significant impact on the way one’s culture is spread across the world. This especially concerns the American culture that has had a great influence on the global community. Therefore, mass media is definitely a powerful socialization agent. Mass media generally covers a vast range of communication methods, means of entertainment and information transmission. This includes books, newspapers, television, music, the Internet and especially the video games. Access to these kinds of mass media depends on one’s income. In peripheral countries, such kind of mass media as radio is still a powerful tool used by politicians and other authoritative figures. American children tend to watch television for more than two hours a day. In the United States, kids also spend much time playing video games. This results in the oversaturation of the child’s mind and may change one’s perception of the surrounding world and one’s self. There is also an assumption that mass media can make children exhibit aggressive behavior. Violence on television greatly affects the children’s psyche so that they often resort to being violent and aggressive themselves. This is one of the roles of mass media in the child socialization.

The fourth agent of socialization is the market. It is suggested by the researchers that children at the very early age start asking for specific goods by their brand name. This is because they believe that various famous brands can reflect their individual qualities, for instance, being cool, smart or strong. Therefore, the market can be considered another important agent of socialization, by means of which children express their personality. Nowadays, children ask for new toys quite often, and the oversaturation of the market greatly contributes to the fulfillment of their wishes and needs. Such influence of the market on children is known as the childhood commercialization. This phenomenon emerged back in the 1980s together with the spread of mass media. Nowadays, the companies like Nickelodeon that are created specifically for children generate immense revenues so that such agent of socialization as the market can be considered a profitable and ever-growing business venture.

To conclude, the process of socialization is multi-dimensional. It embraces a vast range of agents that influence children in a number of ways helping them to acquire necessary skills and abilities required for the interaction with people.

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