Socialization refers to the process that makes people become proficient members of the societies they live in through providing them an understanding of various societal expectations and norms, awareness of its values, and to accept the beliefs of that society. The socialization process is vital for children growing into adulthood, without which they cannot integrate within their society and develop harmonious and beneficial relationships within it. Additionally, socialization enables people to learn about social taboos and deviant behavior, essentially governing the way people act and react to different situations they come across in life. A child that grows up to learn different tasks and behaviors expected from them, by their peers and family members, is able to find his or her place in relation to other members of the society, ultimately learning about his or her personal identity and how it relates to the society at large.
The socialization process begins with the question ‘Who am I?’ I am Randy Palmer, an honest, opinionated, domineering and at times described as an assertive individual. My socialization process started with my infancy primarily through my mother, father, siblings, grandparents and other relatives, who I would frequently interact with. My mother and father were the primary socialization agents in my life. They were a traditional middle-class urban family, a happily married and loving couple, who placed great emphasis on the importance of family, and took pride in instructing me and raising me with values they saw as acceptable. Moreover, my early socialization skills that included my manners and language development were also heavily influenced by my social relationships with parents and other members of the family. A child’s social interaction in the family setting serves as a key socialization agent that ultimately teaches them their place in society CITATION Kee16 \l 1033 (Keel, 2016). As I grew older, I was expected to care for my younger siblings and was supposed to teach them about social expectations and norms that are important to live by when growing up in the environment around them. Deviant behavior was not tolerated in our family, and each child was given certain chores that instilled in me a sense of responsibility from the start. My mother was very protective and would place us before everything else. One reason why I value honesty is because I was always taught that honesty makes one look better and always pays off at the end.
Growing up further, I encountered new agents of socialization after I started school. This began the secondary socialization process for me, in which I would build upon the family values I had learnt while being introduced to newer social skills and rules of acceptable group behavior. A lack of complacency with these rules and expectations would be met by social sanctions. For instance, I was once removed from the classroom for being disruptive, something that warned me against exhibiting disruptive behavior in a social setting. The social control theory suggests that these sanctions ultimately shape children into becoming acceptable and ‘normal’ members of the society CITATION Jan75 \l 1033 (Janowitz, 1975). It was both formal and informal forms of social control that aided in my secondary socialization through which I learned how to be accepted into a particular social group. Moreover, it taught me that behavior considered appropriate for adolescents might not be acceptable for adults, and thus I needed to adapt to changing norms of acceptable behavior as I aged. In primary school, life was simpler, all of my peers were friendly, and there was little social division that I witnessed while playing or studying. According to Mead, children's play often involved role-playing in which they try to observe and mimic different social situations from the perspective of another CITATION Kor12 \l 1033 (Kornblum, 2012). Playing with peers reflects another part of the socialization process in which children engage in social interaction by means of symbols, languages, role-playing, and shared meanings by means of which they are influenced by their society, which also helps them reflect upon themselves as an object.
As children reach adolescence, a range of societal factors such as social class, religion, and race begin to influence their socialization. For instance, families that are poorer emphasize conformity whereas wealthy families would encourage creativity and judgment. Peer group socialization continues to influence them at this stage even as the children begin to exert more independence and start to develop an identity independent of their parents CITATION Lev94 \l 1033 (Levine & Moreland, 1994). Moreover, peer-group socialization occurs through forms of activities than what usually occurs within the family setting. For me, the close associations I formed with my friends, neighbors, and peer-groups in school and other places contributed to my socialization process by means of which I learned how to compromise, cooperate, negotiate and exert dominance and leadership.
In high school, I had come across more social divisions. Middle-class students would usually conform to regulations and acceptable behavior whereas lower-class students would generally be more truant and care less about school regulations. I had formed associations with peers belonging to both groups which allowed me to reflect, plan and evaluate my own position with respect to the school's social setting. I wanted to achieve higher academic grades, but at the same time, I wanted to engage in other thrilling activities that another group of students would engage more in. Thus, I was torn between two different circles, which I tried to overcome by engaging in self-evaluation, thereby striking a balance between the two different kinds of social lives each group was living. This balance allowed me to become a high academic achiever as well as remain popular among peers. This further enhanced my social relationships and communication while my relationships with girls helped me understand the more emotional aspects of social relationships. Moreover, it was at this stage that I began to learn about emotional control and higher moral values, by means of which I learned how to conduct myself publicly in a dignified manner. This secondary socialization coupled with the primary socialization from my family helped shaped my identity, personality, and self-esteem in order to become the type of person which I am today.
Another form of socialization that I believe impacted me was through the media. The media not only transmitted to me concepts, roles and expectation with regards to my gender but also influenced the way I saw society. This occurred through my exposure to different forms of deviance, crime and anti-social behavior that I saw in television shows, from where I learned about the consequences of engaging in them. The display of deviance on television programs and the demonstration of punishment and consequences for those who do not conform to societal expectations influenced me to steer away from it. Additionally, religion also served as an important socialization avenue for me as I began to accompany my family to Church. Like school, these places of worship would also teach members and participants how to interact with society and to find one’s place in it CITATION Pic091 \l 1033 (Pickering, 2009). Moreover, the Church would uphold certain traditional norms and held important ceremonies and rituals related to birth, obituaries, and marriage, which instilled a shared sense of community in me and further strengthened certain desirable values in me through the socialization process.
In conclusion, the sociological perspective allowed me to realize how an individual is continuously shaped by different social processes as a result of their engagement with other members of society. The socialization process serves as an essential factor in ultimately determining a person’s self-identity as a result of different social controls and social interactions. In my life, five socialization agents played a key role: school, family, mass-media, peer-groups and religion, among which it was my family and school that played the most fundamental role in shaping me as an Individual. Since socialization is a process that is continuous, thus these agents continue to provide me certain social skills that I need to adopt in order to become a better person, and an effective member of the society.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Janowitz, M. (1975). Sociological Theory and Social Control. American Journal of Sociology, 81(1), 82-108. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/2777055
Keel, S. (2016). Socialization: Parent-Child Interaction in Everyday Life. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kornblum, W. (2012). Sociology in a Changing World (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Levine, J. M., & Moreland, R. L. (1994). Group Socialization: Theory and Research. European Review of Social Psychology, 5(1), 305-336. doi:10.1080/14792779543000093
Pickering, W. (2009). Durkheim's Sociology of Religion: Themes and Theories (1st ed.). Cambridge: James Clarke & Co Ltd.
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