Introduction to Sociology SOC101
AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION
Socializationagents are the sources fromwhich we learn about societyand ourselves. People andgroups
that influence our self-concept, emotions, attitudes, and behavior arecalled agents of socialization.They
areour socializes. People whoserve as socializing agents include family members, friends, neighbors, the
police, the employers, teachers, politicalleaders, business leaders, religious leaders, sports stars,and
entertainers.Socialization agents alsocan be fictional charactersthat we read about or see on television or
in the movies.
Everysocial experience we haveaffects us in at least a smallway. However, severalfamiliar settingshave
special importance in the socialization process.Some of the important agents of socialization are as below.
Thefamily has the greatestimpact on socialization. Infantsare totally dependent on others, and the
responsibility to look after the young ones typically falls on parents and otherfamily members. It is a matter
of child survival.
There is an automatic provision of learning situations to the young ones. Family begins the lifelongprocess
of defining ourselves of being male or female and the child learns the appropriate roles associatedwith
Who we are? The perceptions about ourselves and the familystatus are conferred on us. The class
position of parents affects how they raise their children. Classposition shapes not justhow much money
parentshave to spend, but what they expect of their children. In the lowerclass there is lot of emphasis on
conformityand obedience. The childrenare told " Don't getinto trouble." There is moreuse of physical
punishment in lower class than in otherclasses. People of lowerclass standing usually havelimited
education and perform routine jobs under close supervision. They expecttheir children will holdsimilar
positions, so they encourage obedience. Well-offparents, with more schooling, usually have jobsthat
demandimagination and creativity. They try to inspire the same qualities in their children. Therefore in the
middleclass there is emphasis on developing curiosity, self- expression, self-control, and reasoning.
Schooling enlarges children's social world to include people with backgrounds differentfrom their own.
Among the manifest functions, the schools teachchildren a wide range of knowledge andskills. Schools
informallyconvey other lessons, whichmight be called the hidden curriculum. Through different activities
schoolshelp in inculcating values of patriotism, democracy, justice, honesty, andcompetition. Effortsare
made to introduce correct attitudes about economic system/politicalsystem.
Peergroup is the one whosemembers have interests,social position, and age in common. Unlike the family
and the school, the peer grouplets children escape the direct supervision of adults. Among the peers,
childrenlearn how to form relationships on their own. Peer groupsalso offer the chance to discuss
intereststhat adults may notshare with their children(such as clothing or otheractivities).
In a rapidly changing society,peer groups have great influence on an individual. The attitudes of young and
oldmay differ because of a "generation gap." The importance of peer groups typically peaksduring
adolescence, when young people begin to break awayfrom their families andthink of themselves as adults.
Neighborhoodand schools provide a variety of peer groups. Individualstend to view their owngroup in
positiveterms and to discreditothers. People are also influenced by peer groups they wouldlike to join, a
processsociologists call anticipatory socialization, learningthat helps a person achieve a desiredposition.
Introduction to Sociology SOC101
In fact peer groups have a compelling influence on its members, whereby the individuals conform to group
The Mass Media
Themass media are impersonalcommunication aimed at a vast audience. Mass mediaarise as communication
technology (first the newspapers andthen radio, television, films, and the Internet) spreads information on
a mass scale. The massmedia have an enormous effect on our attitudes and behavior,and on shaping
people'sopinions about issues as well as what they buy.
Where television provides lot of entertainment, at the same time it is a big agent of socialization.The
portrayal of human characters in differentprograms and in advertisements on television helps in projecting
the gender perceptions prevalent in the society; thereby helping in gender construction. The sameprograms
help in shaping the attitudes, values,and basic orientation of people to life.
Religionplays significant role in the socialization of most Pakistanis. It influences morality, becoming a key
component in people's ideas of rightand wrong. The influence of religionextends to many areas of our
lives.For example participation in religious ceremonies not only teaches us beliefs about the hereafterbut
alsoideas about dress, concepts of pakandpleet,andmanners appropriate for formaloccasions.
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