The process of socialization is one that I believe will never end throughout an individual’s lifetime. It is something that is constantly changing. During this process a person learns and gains their personal identity and is able to learn social skills that they believe are deemed appropriate in society. A person can learn what is important through the different norms, values and behaviors of others. They are taught by those that are close to them, which could involve their parents, family members, teachers, media or even religious leaders. There is a vast amount of people that a person will come in contact with that have an effect on the process of socialization for them.
My name is Kara Spencer. I am 29 years old and I was born in Taipei City, Taiwan. I was adopted by the age of 2 and brought to the United States, where I grew up and still currently live in Boise, Idaho. I was brought up in a suburban home and was fortunate enough to be offered a lot of opportunities, whereas if I were still living in Taiwan I may not have ever been able to experience. I am lucky I was adopted and did not live in a place where there was a lot of crime, violence or transgressions against the female sex. After graduating high school at the age of 17 I started college at a local university and decided to take general courses to get my prerequisites. I chose to do this because at that point in my life I was unsure of what degree I wanted to go for. I stopped attending school about a year later and ended up focusing more on working. In the year 2012 I enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard. I am currently still enlisted but my contract is coming to an end this coming June of 2020.
I am attending this online university to further my career and support my family. I believe in working hard and I want to have a life that is full of happiness. I want to be able to provide for my family without the stress of money interfering with that. Both of my parents worked full-time jobs when I was a kid. They worked hard to provide for my siblings and myself. My role within my family growing up was to help support my parents when they needed help. This could have easily been done by helping out with chores around the house or simply watching my siblings. I want to instill this into my stepchildren and teach them what it means to give back and help others without any expectation. My role as I am older now with children of my own are to be a good step parent, fiance, sister, and co-worker. As a stepmother, I want to teach my kids what I was taught and help raise them to be the best that they can be. Every person plays many roles in life as I do, this is what leads to shaping who we are in life. There have been four agents of socialization that have impacted my life the most and they are my family, religion, peers and the mass media.
My family has been my number one agent of socialization growing up. Family is the most important because it is what we center ourselves around from the time we are infants. As an infant we are completely dependent and unable to survive without the help of someone. Parents are there to help guide us into knowing what is right and wrong. They are teaching us what good morals are and which bad morals to steer away from. My parents also taught me to not judge others unless I have walked in their shoes. I’ve always thought outside the box and have tried to understand another person’s point of view. Who am I to judge? I was taught by my parents to always work hard for what I want, things in life are not given they are earned. I think that this is a great value to have because it seems that in this day and age this isn’t a value kids are taught. The value of hard work was instilled in me since I can remember. When I joined the military I knew I had to work hard. I always did what was asked of me obeyed orders. I took the required classes and training and then even more so I could become better at my occupation. Going the extra mile and trying harder allowed me to achieve a higher rank in the military. With the higher rank I also earned respect amongst my fellow soldiers and those that were under me. I not only felt good for myself but proud I was able to bring honor to my family.
Another agent of socialization besides my family that has led me to the person that I am is religion. I was involved in a Christian youth group growing up. The group taught me how to have faith, gave me knowledge, and gave me an understanding of the purpose of life. This has helped me to grow into the role that I have within my family and within my church. I appreciate all that has been provided to me whether it is something materialistic or just words to help guide me to be a better person and understand the way things work in life. Being a part of this agent of socialization has been a positive influence on myself and has encouraged me to always do the right thing. Yes my parents taught me this value but religion has also helped me to understand it even better. Religion has helped to shape and form my everyday behaviors. When I would attend my youth group and go to church on Sunday’s this taught me what a safe environment was and directed me down the right path to a happy and healthy lifestyle. I was taught how to overcome fears and issues that I may have had. This agent of socialization can tie into ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is when you have a person that is judging a culture of someone else’s belief but with the view of their own culture. For example, a Christian believes all people should believe that the evolution of Christainity is a true story, whether they are Christians or not. There are many churchgoers that will try to influence those around them that the way of their religion is the one and only. This of course is not true everyone is entitled to believe what they wish.
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The next most important agent of socialization as I was growing up was my peers. These were individuals that I was constantly around that also helped shape and mold me like religion did. Interacting with my peers helped me to develop different types of relationships within society. I believe that this is a very important agent of socialization because unlike my family and religious agents I was able to form relationships with others the way I wanted to and with who I wanted. There was no pressure from my family or religious groups. Growing up I had a few close friends. They were like minded with me and our views on things were mostly the same. Peer relationships have helped teach me to understand different points of view. Socializing with my peers also had an influence on my attitude and everyday behaviours. It helped to remind me of what was the right thing to do and what wasn’t right. I would say that those I surrounded myself with helped me to know that drugs and violence were not something I wanted as a part of my life. Having these social interactions also allowed me to soar in academics and get good grades in school. I believe that symbolic interactionism played a huge role at this point of my life. This theory focuses on the social interactions that take place through words, roles, gestures and rituals between people. George Herbert Mead believed that one’s self develops through social interactions.
The last agent of socialization that has influenced my upbringing and so many others is mass media. I believe that this has become even more prominent in this day age in society. Mass media can either have a positive or have a negative effect on an individual’s social skills. A positive influence that mass media has had on me is to teach me that there is such a diversity of people in the world. It has taught me about all the different issues that have happened and that are happening around the world. Mass media has taught me to appreciate what I have and to give when I can back to the community. It has helped to open my eyes to the world and not just what I think the world should be. This in return has taught me to understand and form my own beliefs and what I believe is the norm. Mass media has a huge impact on how a person thinks and how a person acts. As I said before there are negative issues with mass media. The number one negative effect of mass media that I see in today’s society and when I was growing up, is how it makes it seem like a person is supposed to look and act a certain way. The effect of this causes individuals to become insecure about themselves, when there is no need to. All the different images that we see create a tainted picture of what people should look like. In reality those things are not important and don’t necessarily get a person where they want to be. I believe that mass media ties into the theory of deviance. The theory of deviance helps to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Deviance can help individuals define their cultural values and norms in society. As Emile Durkheim argued, deviance is a necessity in society, deviance is what creates social order. Without deviance we would not be aware of what is right and wrong.
Throughout this paper I have been able to successfully illustrate and show the agents of socialization through family, religion, peers, and mass media examples. These agents have affected the last 29 years of my life and I know that it will continue to affect my future as time goes on. The process of socialization is one that is never-ending through a person’s lifetime. There are many people we will come into contact with that will affect our process of socialization.
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