Socialization, its agents and influences

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Socialization can be defined as a lifelong process of acquiring a unique personality and adopting the desired values, behaviors and social skills necessary for social development. The main objectives of socialization are believed to include the development and management of conscience, preparing an individual for specific roles such as gender roles and other responsibilities that may arise in social institutions such as marriage, and giving a meaning to life as a whole (Brinkerhoff 49).

The role that socialization plays is churning out individuals who are constructive in the society and is made up of two parts; primary and secondary socialization. The first part of socialization occurs in the early stages in life which include childhood and adolescence. Secondary socialization covers the whole life from child hood to adulthood as skills are needed to facilitate interaction with new individuals. It is generally agreed that the basic structures of individuality develop at the primary level with unique changes taking place at the secondary level, as duties and responsibilities widen and become complex.

Socialization is a process therefore, requires agents or mechanisms to drive it. Agents will affect the socialization process of an individual depending on the period of exposure, the circumstances, personal experiences and the phase in life the individual is in (Brinkerhoff 49).

The family represents the first critical agent of socialization because it is where an individual acquires the first emotional contact. The family is where a child learns to communicate, appreciate relationships, know rules and regulations, it is also the phase where morals are acquired, and behavior and role models are chosen (Berns 263). Depending on the kind of a family one is brought up in; the influences will have a significant bearing on an individual’s life. This level also exposes the young to negative parenting which may be due to the bad experiences the parents went through themselves.

Another significant agent is the school.  It represents a major challenge to the individual as it is the first contact to the external social environment. This is where distinction is made on gender and race. Schools provide learners with the tools of understanding themselves, their fellow colleagues and the immediate environment. It is also critical in that skills are acquired that enable one to earn a livelihood and understand their roles as citizens of a particular nation.

Peers influence is another agent that has a great impact on socialization. It begins to take root in the later stages of childhood and climaxes at adolescence to the beginning of adulthood. It is the stage that one develops relationships without the influence of parents but by relying on their own conscience. This is also the stage where right or wrong choices are made which may have a lifelong impact (Danziger 21).

Mass media represents the major type of secondary socialization which is specific to a particular group. It plays a role in determining behavior through copying and modeling. Considering the age of advanced communication we are in, individuals especially adolescents are influenced by the content they listen to, watch and read in tools of mass media e.g. television, radio, mobile phones and the internet. These interaction leads to development of certain behaviors based on models who at times may not genuine.

The government is also an agent of socialization since it stipulates the laws that govern the land. The sense of security provided and the consequences that follow if one does not abide by the required regulations helps to mold an individual. Most individuals are born into settings where a particular religion is practiced. Most religions advocate ethics, love for other persons, and expounds on the meaning of life. Most mainstream religions also provides the frame work on how to live in the human society.

Personally, I believe that I am unique in many aspects because of the role of social forces and agents. Each individual is born into different families who have different values and principles (Berns 263). My parents stressed the need to develop positive values early in life like honesty, kindness, humility, and love for others which continue to have a profound effect in my life as I proceed to adulthood. The value of assuming responsibility for my actions was instilled in me because my parents punished me for mistakes that I committed.

My religion has had a profound effect on the person that I am today. Christianity advocates for values that are aimed at developing the individual and putting the welfare of others a head. It teaches that, Jesus himself offered his life for our sins because of his unfailing love; we should also do the same to our fellow humans. Christianity also emphasizes the need of adhering to the Ten Commandments which generally guides on how to live a moral and just life (Danziger 21).

Peer pressure has played a vital role in my socialization. During my adolescent stage, I started associating with friends I thought they were cool due to their disobedience, drug abuse and general carelessness. Even though it is a stage that every one undergoes, wrong choices can easily be made and I credit my parents, teachers and my church for providing the much needed guidelines during this tempting period.

There are individuals in my life who have played a significant role in my development and wellbeing to the person I am today. The first are my parents who instilled in me the value of discipline and hard work which continue to shape the choices I still make in life. My older siblings also deserve credit as they provided the first contacts of socialization and they continue to be my role models due to the achievements and their level of commitment to discipline, hard work and humanity. My teachers have been vital in shaping my personality. Throughout my schooling through different levels, the values instilled in me by my teachers continue to resonate in my mind and provides the needed reference when faced with life challenges especially in academics and the carrier field.

My family, the schools I attended, my church and the government are the institutions that played and are still active in shaping my personality. The family provided a sense of belonging, the school gave education, socialization skills and discipline, the church provided the important guidelines on ethics and morality, and the government outlined the roles and regulations governing the civil aspects of my life.

Agents like mass media will continue to affect the aspects of my life due to the increasing role played by information technology e.g. the internet (Kendall 105). The beckoning of adulthood will reduce the influence of socialization process but not entirely since it is a life long process and learning new things and experiences is a daily routine till death.

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