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Agents of Socialization
Individuals cannot on their own figure out how to live in society; they usually learn it from people around them. These agents of socialization are responsible for making an individual familiar with society’s rules, norms, and expectations. As well as also shape the individual’s identity or concept of self to a large extent.
This process of socialization is at work almost during an individual’s whole life but it is more prevalent during childhood and early adolescence. Since it is when an individual starts to learn- How to behave in the world? Moreover, when an individual shifts to a completely alien environment where the norms of society are different from the ones they were born into, they undergo re-socialization. Which is relearning of all ideas, attributes, and norms of society to fit in. Hence, socialization is essential for one’s survival in society.
Socialization is usually carried out by agents, groups of people and institutions who are in contact with us and have an impact or stake in our lives. Our close, intimate groups like family and close friends are primary agents of socialization. Whereas others like the workplace environment, media, school, etc are secondary agents of socialization as we do not come in contact with them often.
7 Agents of Socialization
As we know, family is the primary agent of socialization. Family shapes an individual’s worldview from the beginning, it is through our families we learn our first words, social relations, obligations, rules, and norms.
They introduce us to the world, and to an extent, our religious beliefs, racial identity, and gender roles are taken up from our families. Family may include our parents, grandparents, and kin group.
In early adolescence, children are most impacted by their peers. They learn how to conduct themselves outside of a family. Children develop their own identity apart from the family. It is often said- one’s company determines their life chances and it is true to a large extent. One imitates their peers, to fit in the group. Children often pick up new habits from their friends when they are growing up due to being socialized by their friend circle.
The rules, regulations, and norms operating at educational institutions shape the behavior of children. Schools socialize children by shaping their ideas, beliefs, and opinions about the world. Since they stay in that environment for a long time, it has a formative impact on the minds of children.
The adult spends a large amount of their time at their workplace, their social and economic benefits are tied to one single place. People learn ways to conduct themselves in a new work environment. One is exposed to varied new environments, work ethics, culture, etc everything is learned and re-learned at the workplace.
Government is responsible for making rules and regulations that govern the citizens of the country. People have to obey the laws and act in accordance with the legal code of the country so these norms determine our conduct. Our behavior on the road to the time when we can get married is somewhat influenced by government policies. This is how the government acts like an agent of socialization, people gain rights as per their age and are exposed to ways to conduct their lives via policies.
Religion is both organized as well as unorganized, a large number of people still follow some religious sects. Religion highly guides and influences the social sphere of individuals, from birth, marriage to death, one’s religion influences everything. Family structure, size, beliefs, ideologies, gender-based norms, etc. are all influenced by religion in these ways, religion socializes an individual.
The impact and outreach of media in contemporary times is unarguably huge. It impacts and influences the masses. Media represents popularly held beliefs and the dominant narrative prevalent in society. In this way, it shapes an individual’s understanding of events and things around them.
Humans aren’t born equipped with the knowledge of societal norms, they learn it as they grow up. They acquire this knowledge in their lifetime as they come in contact with the above-mentioned agents. In a way, socialization makes survival possible; it equips the individual with the requisite skills to live.
Q1. What is social control?
Ans. Social control includes ways by which society keeps individuals in check and that they adhere to society’s norms, rules, and regulations. A variety of ways are used to assert this control- persuasion, coercion, and ostracization.
Q2. Define Socialization.
Ans. It is the process through which an individual internalizes the rules and norms of society. Essentially, one learns how to conduct oneself in the social world. For example- people learn about the customs and rituals of their community via the process of socialization.
Q3. What are the elements that take part in the socialization of an individual?
Ans. Biological inheritance from the family, the environment one is brought up in and Culture, are the key elements involved in the process of socialization. All of them affect and shape people’s behavior.
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