Describe the Agents of Socialization

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Topics: Sociology
Describe the various agents of socialization and why they are important.

Agents of socialization are social groups that help shape our identities. They are important to help us find our place in society and understand who we are as individuals. The family is the most important social agent in our lives. It is the first influence for us in the beginning and has a direct impact on how we view the world, our morals, values, and our beliefs. The family provides our basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter, and love. These factors are vital for our growth and development. Because of the strong bond that is shared with family we tend to place more value their opinion of us over others (Vissing, 2011, Chapter 2.4).

Friends or peer groups can have a big influence on our identity as well. Close friends who we see on a daily basis can be just as important to us as family. Other friends that we see in certain social settings such as work or school are considered secondary agents. In the earlier years, parents are careful about who they let their children become friends with because eventually the influence of friends will be stronger than the influence of family as the child grows older. Also as we get older society judges us based on who we are friends with. If we hang out with people who do drugs, other people will think we do drugs when in actuality we may not (Vissing, 2011, Chapter 2.4).

The media is a social agent that reaches everyone. We look to the media to see what trending or popular. We assume that if it appears in the media as socially acceptable, then it must be so. Again parents, being the primary social agent, tend to monitor what their children are exposed to because the media can send the wrong messages to young children about sex, violence, and stereotyping (Vissing, 2011, Chapter 2.4).

Do you think socializing agents contribute to an institutionalized system of social inequality? Support your answer with detailed examples.

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