An agent of socialization is an individual or institution tasked with the replication of the Social Order. An agent of socialization is responsible for transferring the rules, expectations, norms, values, and folkways of a given social order. In advanced capitalist society, the principle agents of socialization include the family, the media, the school system, religious and spiritual institutions, and peer groups.
Specific sites or groups carry out socialization. We call these agents of socialization. Similar to the concept of a business agent or insurance agent, they represent and act on the behalf of the larger society and. Socialization can occur outside of these agents but society relies on these agents doing most of the socialization. There's nothing "official" about these agents, at least not in our society. Totalitarian societies attempt to establish official agents of socialization but in a democratic society no government agency licenses or certifies them.
Our society relies on four major agents of socialization (listed in order children tend to experience them):
The family is the earliest and without question the most influential agent of socialization. It grabs the child at birth, when the child is most helpless and dependent, and doesn't let go for a whole lifetime. Socialization via the family goes from cradle to grave. What makes socialization in the family so important and influential? • Foundation for all civilized behavior:
> Language abilities (learning to talk)
> Body control (e.g., toilet training)
> Emotional control (e.g., "don't hit your sister")
> Rules of public conduct (e.g., "don't throw food")
> Moral values (e.g., "lying is a sin")
• Access to the emotional bond between parent and child, an extremely strong and effective socializing mechanism • Lifetime impacts affecting the person's self-esteem, emotional health, identity, and personality • Origin point of gender roles (masculine and feminine behavior; fundamental division of the social world into men and women) • Origin point of ethnocentrism and racism (racial and ethnic prejudice) • Source of original social capital that determines life chances > Social capital = resources useful for gaining advantages in life; includes such things as family and friendship networks, community schools, family's social class background, technology available in home or school, etc. > Life chances = probability of achieving the "good things" in life, such as, health, wealth, happiness, security, power, etc. • Without adults, human children are very vulnerable, largely helpless. They couldn't survive without adults so the loss of parental support is very scary, perhaps life threatening. Such anxiety is very motivating. • Built into the human animal is a basic love bond between parent and child. Children want to please their parents. They want their parents love, support, and affection. Anything that seems to threaten that emotional bond is very scary. difficult job of socializing children. • The family returns as a predominant agent of socialization during the adult years with the roles of marital partner and parent.
Mass Media :
• Books, magazines, etc.
Somewhere around the age of two or three, children in our society first encounter the media as an agent of socialization in the form of TV. Socialization comes through from children's shows, cartoons, and, most especially, commercials. 2 Socialization comes through the characters, images, words, and narrative story lines. Some media specifically acts to be an agent of socialization (e.g., children's programs such as Sesame Street) but most only strive to be entertainment.
Today the media seriously challenges the family. Children spend as much or more time in front of the TV as interacting...