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For everyone, the agents of socialization can vary, though all of us experience socialization from our families in some sense and school to a certain extent, which are the agents most of my socialization occurred with. My family members were essential in teaching me what is right and wrong in society, how to take care of myself as independently as I had the potential to, and overall to be a caring person. Through school, several of my instructors aided in helping me become a significantly more social person in the sense of being a successful leader, follower, and more confident person.
As seen in the video “Gender Stereotyping of Women in the Media”, women were portrayed to be gentle people that do all housework and should be the only party responsible for these tasks. Given that a child’s parents were socialized to hold these same beliefs, they are much more likely to socialize their children in the same way. There are exceptions to these ideas being typically what a child is socialized to believe, for example, if a child had a single mother without a father figure in the picture, the child will be socialized to believe that women can do just about anything in and around the household and so can they, nothing is off limits just because they are a boy or a girl. Children are the most easily influenced members of society and rely on their parents to teach them certain roles, however, as the media has become more prominent throughout society, children focus more on that than they do their own parents at time. As seen in the video “Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood”, children are known to actively flock to familiar characters and demand to have products that are “endorsed” by these characters, stating that they are the best products because they love the character on the box. Despite older members of society knowing that these products have no real improvement to them outside of an altered shape or cartoon character made as the face of the product meant to appeal to a child only, there is no real way to convince a child that these are no better than another similar product without a character on the packaging. Just as adults do, once a child makes up their mind about something, there is no real way of forcing them to change their opinion unless they actively decide to themselves.
Two key people in the shaping of my life are my older brother, Kevin, and my high school JROTC Army Instructor, SFC Lein. While our mother was continuously working to support the three of us, my brother was there for me as often as possible to be supportive and teach me how to be successful as myself. Kevin taught me to always show respect to others, even if I felt that they were undeserving of it, to take care of any important tasks as soon as possible, and as I got older, to be self-sufficient when necessary. I have known SFC Lein since I was in fifth grade, as my older brother and our uncle had been a member of the JROTC program that SFC Lein was an instructor for. In the time that I knew him, I learned more that built upon what I had learned from my brother- a lot of what he instilled in me, was instilled in him by SFC Lein as well. The main idea of respect was pushed- for three years I faced the dilemma of not showing respect to someone I had none for that SFC Lein also didn’t, but knowing he was having to do the same thing made it much easier- as well as taking chances to be a successful leader. When I first met SFC Lein, I had no idea that Military Sciences (JROTC and middle school version of it) would be so instrumental in aiding me in becoming the person that I am now. While there were many other agents of socialization that had made a big difference on my socialization, these two people had some of the greatest impact.
Each of the major Sociological Theories have keen observations of how socialization works in overall society, however, the Conflict Perspective seems to be more prominent as a means of socialization in this current time frame. The Conflict Perspective thrives off of society continuously have some sort of a problem or conflicts amongst the different social classes. As stated in Society in Focus, “socialization is one of the most powerful and effective tools used by those in power to maintain the status quo and legitimize existing social inequalities” (Thompson, Hickey, & Thompson, Pg. 110). The upper classes thrive on the middle and lower classes struggling to maintain a basic lifestyle, and count on the children in these classes to be socialized to understand that they will always be stuck in the economic status and will not be able to move upwards in social class and that the upper class elites will always be the ones that see continuous success and will always be the ones in charge.
The idea of agents of socialization can be argued both that it does and does not contribute at all to the American class system. It can be seen that agents of socialization do in fact have an outcome in the class system. If a person were to grow up as a lower-middle class or poor citizen, they are likely to have been socialized in a way that they have to work incredibly hard just to make ends meet. Having this experience in their early life influences some people to go above and beyond what is expected of them as a lower class citizen in order to break into the middle class status. As Putten says, “Social class is a social construction with no basis as a biological or genetic concept,” (Putten) showing that our social class is based on what we decide to work for in our own lives.
The agents of socialization can affect anyone, though any major effects can differ on person based on what agents have a large role in their lives, which also applies to the multiple theories of Sociology and how they may affect the views of socialization.
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