- Have you ever wondered how you learned to interact with people? Well, it is through a process called socialization, and socialization is a life-long process where we learn about social expectations and how to interact with others. So everything we consider to be normal is actually learned through socialization. This is where we learn to walk, talk and feed ourselves. It's all through socialization, and we also learn the behavioral norms that help us fit in. So let's look at some of the most important agents of socialization. So agents of socialization are what is used to transmit culture and really pass it around. So agents include people, organizations and institutions that help us learn about our social world. So let's look at a few different examples. Family is usually considered to be the most important agent of socialization. So when you are born, and you are a baby, you are completely dependent on others to survive. So your parents are those who are playing the important role. They teach you how to care for yourself. They also teach you how close relationships work. They also teach you their values, beliefs and norms. So an example of how family plays an important role in socialization come from Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers. He looks at how wealthy parents with white collar jobs raise their children, and then he also looks at how less fortunate parents raise their children. So one specific example that he uses is a trip to the doctor's office. So the children of the wealthy parents were encouraged to ask questions when visiting the doctor, while the kids of the less fortunate, they were less likely to criticize or even question the doctor. So the less fortunate children were more likely to just accept what the doctor says without voicing their concerns at all. So this example shows us how kids are raised, and really how they're raised affects how they interact with others, and in this case, authority. So the wealthy kids were encouraged to challenge authority and to think independently, while the less wealthy kids were taught to submit to authority. Schools are also another important agent of socialization. So in addition to teaching about different subjects like science and math, or the standard reading, writing and arithmetic, schools teach life skills. So students do not just learn from their academic curriculum, but they learn social skills from interactions with teachers and other students. For example, we learn the importance of obeying authority, and that to be successful we must learn to be quiet, we must learn to wait, and to even act interested when we are not interested at all. So this is part of what is called the hidden curriculum, which is just standard behaviors, and they are really what is deemed acceptable. And they are subtly taught by teachers. Peers help us develop our social behavior. There are moments in life where our friends values and behavior, they contradict the values of our families. So it's really up to you to decide which norms and values to keep, and which to get rid of. So peer pressure is an example of how peers influence us, and many times teens are pressured to drink and to do drugs. So peers during our teenage years also influence what movies we watch, or even the music we listen to. Mass media includes things like television, internet, radio, movies, books and magazines. So when children are young they learn things through mass media that their parents, really they would not even approve of. So today children are exposed to a lot of content that is intended for mature audiences, like violent TV shows, for example. So sometimes mass media even enforces gender and other stereotypes. So one great example of how mass media is an agent of socialization is children's books. So I remember reading one called Amelia Bedelia, and in this story Amelia Bedelia, she's a maid, and she's doing a lot of different chores around the house. So in the story, it's a funny book because she's taking commands from her employer literally. So for example, at the end of one of her tasks, one of her tasks is to dress a turkey, and I think she literally puts clothes on the turkey. But in the children's book she was doing a lot of chores, so she was doing the laundry, and she was dusting the couch. And the point is to show you how children's books play an important role in socialization. So this book was written in the 1960's, and during this time women were expected to stay at home, and they were expected to do chores and have children and just be housewives. So this just shows you how mass media, although it may just seem to be there, it plays a big role in teaching us about our social expectations.