Socialization is the process in which people learn how to be members of a specific society. Several institutions play a critical role in the socialization of people, and these are the family, religion, schools, peers, job, and government. We will look at each below.
The family is perhaps the strongest socializing agent in a person’s life. The earliest knowledge about the world and how a child sees the world is shaped by the family initially. The family continues to influence the child throughout their lives by accepting or rejecting the child’s actions.
Different families also socialize their children in different ways. For example, worker-class families often emphasize obedience while middle and upper-class families focus on creativity and critical thinking. As such, these children from these different families are taught that different things are important.
Religion plays a critical role in socializing people. Even in families that do not encourage religion, they send a message that religion is not important. Often religion provides various ceremonies that are connected with the family. Examples can include weddings, funerals, and rites of passages ceremonies like Bar mitzvahs among Jews.
Religion also often provides a moral framework for a person. People learn right from wrong by going to church or reading the religious text of their religion. REligions also define roles for people in society, such as the role of the man and woman in marriage and the local leadership.
Outside the home, the place that may have the most influence on individuals and socialization may be the schools. Teachers serve as role models and surrogate parents through spending entire days with children. Students learn about the values of their society at school as well. Schools do not only teach subjects but also help to shape a student’s worldview.
One of the reasons for the huge debate over education in the US is what values should be taught in school. Many parents are pushing back against what schools want to do in the classroom because, fundamentally, the parents do not support the current form of socialization in schools today.
Peers are often met at school and also influence the socialization process. Peers teach people how to interact with members of their age group. Peers can be a positive or negative influence on socialization. However, at least among young people, friends are generally a negative influence. This leads to the point that the different agencies spoken of here often compete in terms of their influence over a person.
The government is also mentioned here because the government is often heavily influencing the school. Through policies government influences almost all aspects of a person’s life. Such things that are influenced by the government are schools, salaries, health, retirement, marriage, among other things.
Governments are also often involved in shaping the values of their citizens. This is done by encouraging patriotism and nativism. America is famous for supporting the American way and the American Dream among its people. In addition, democratic values are highly encouraged and even exported to other countries.
When people grow up, the workplace can also serve a role in socialization. Most workplaces and companies have a set of values that they want their employees to accept and model. There are also unwritten rules of interaction, such as dealing with superiors and how to deal with peers.
People also frequently change jobs, which means they accept and reject various values they have throughout their lives. For example, something that is acceptable in one company may be unacceptable in another. Sometimes the only way to learn this is to gain the approval or disapproval of others in the company.
Another powerful influence on socializing is media. People often decide what is right or wrong based on the media. Media has such influence on people’s lives now that there are accusations of “fake news” when views are shared that are not appreciated by one side or the other.
There is also the idea of “cancel culture,” which involves punishing someone by making them disappear from the internet for saying something that offends somebody. This is yet another example of socialization as it provides examples of things that should be said in the online context. This is even more amazing because people can be canceled for things they said before “cancel culture” even existed. In other words, a person needs to be perfect even before the standards change; otherwise, they will be held responsible for something they said even before saying such a thing was so offensive.
As long as people live among each other, socialization will be important. The examples provide here share a glimpse of the major agents in the socialization of people.