Agents of Socialisation
Socialization is used by psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, educationalists and anthropologists to denote the constant process of acquiring and disseminating customs, ideologies and norms, giving a person the habits and skills that are needed for participation in a particular community or a group. It is an amalgamation of self-imposed as well as externally enforced rules and anticipations of other individuals in the society. Contrasting other species whose behaviours are biologically developed, human beings require social experiences in order to survive and to learn about their culture. Even though cultural differences are noticeable in the customs, behaviours and actions of entire social groups, the uppermost basic articulation of culture is seen at the personal level. The articulation can exclusively be acquired after an individual socializes with his family and external social networks, which represent socialization agents. People who act as socialization’s agents include relatives, friends, teachers, employers, religious leaders, as well as fictional characters which people read about in books or see in the media (Berns, p.46). Determining how the 3 agents of socialisation; peer group, work and mass media contribute to a person’s beliefs, sense of life, values and view, and also any inherent blinds spots they might have.
According to Mead (p.128), a peer group consists of individuals who are similar in age, social status and share common interests. Socialization within peer groups begins in the early years of the human growth process for instance when children in a playground educate each other on norms relating to the rules of the game, taking turns or shooting a basket. The socialization process continues as kids mature into teenagers. Peer groups play an integral role in teenagers life’s in many different ways. They start to develop identities which are totally different from those of their parents and try to exercise their independence. At this stage, teenagers are learning about making their own decisions especially with regard to peer group activities. They start to learn how to devise strategies to win “the game” or how to handle uncomfortable issues/dramas/debates/questions that might arise during group activities. The kind of knowledge/information that an individual acquires from his or her peer group highly influences their sense of self. For instance, the problem-solving skills and techniques an individual learns within their peer group could determine his or her self-esteem and confidence in later life. In addition, the peer group could impact the thoughts of individual group members. A person learns to act in a way that they consider will please their peers. This is because; acceptance by fellow peers is a crucial constituent of socialization. This implies that, every peer group has its own set of beliefs, thoughts, values and behaviours, which must be followed by all members regardless of whether they are right or wrong. Consequently, a peer group can either have a positive or a negative impact on a person’s values, beliefs and behaviour. Peer groups during the teenage years could have a negative influence on its group members. The main detrimental manifestations include bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, premature adolescent sexual activities and other proscribed behaviours in the society. At this stage, peer influences also develop in the school environment. Being associated with peers whose level of academic excellence matches that of a given individual helps in providing a sense of belonging and self worth. However, there might be the tendency to exclude or bully a student who in their opinion is not at the same academic level. At this stage of the socialization process of a student, teachers, parents as well as other grown-up role models take up a crucial role in helping the affected student have a better sense of self...
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