Abstract In this paper I point out four specific agents of socialization and how they have changed in American culture. These four agents include family, community, religion, and media. The first agent family, I focus on the significant differences between single parent families, and two parent families, as well as same sex marriages and different sex marriages. With the second agent community, I focus on neighbors relationships not being strong, increased crime rates, and significant changes in the community.
In the third agent religion, I focus on the church being the main focus of people lives in the past, and how the view of the church has changed and how people are becoming less religious. In the fourth agent media, I focus on the news publicizing violence in order to make money, and how celebrities and video games have a significant impact on youth today. Agents of Socialization Intro:If we look at specific agents of socialization such as family, community, religion, and media, we can see how much our country has either advanced or declined throughout the years.
Everyone plays an important role is socialization whether we recognize it or not Studying these types of socialization can help explain why people do what they do and can help us grow as a nation in the future. Knowing the pros and cons of these agents can make us better citizens, better parents, better neighbors, and better individuals. Our country can never be entirely perfect, but can significantly improve if citizens become more educated and work harder to be the best they can be. Family The American family has changed drastically throughout history.
When America first won it’s Independence from Great Britain, families were comprised of two parents, a mother and a father and kids. These families were often strictly religious, and their daily routines were based upon their religious beliefs. Families at this time often worked outside together from sunup to sundown, working the fields, farming, building, and raising cattle. Having a lot of kids in this time period was considered important in order to make money and to help with work around the house. Parents at this time believed having a lot of kids would make them wealthy.
After a long day of work, families would have a large home cooked meal, read, do homework and then go to bed. When cities developed people began to move out of rural areas and started working in factories. Fathers would work in factories while the mothers would stay at home and manage the house, prepare dinner, and take care of the kids. In the late 1940’s and early 50’s suburbanization happened and families began developing and moving to the outskirts of the city in places called suburbs. Here families hoped to live safer and better lives.
These families became known as white picket families because houses in the suburbs were all very similar in structure and shape, and families consisted of a mom,dad, daughter and son. Families in the suburbs would spend their free time having picnics, playing baseball, camping, listening to radio programs, or watching TV programs on their black and white televisions. Parents at this time in U. S. history tried their best to instill in their children strong moral beliefs, and educate and supervise them very well. Families were often very supportive of the government and were very patriotic. Today families are almost completely different. There are more single parent families in society today than ever before” (Chen p. 89). One reason for this is because families are more dysfunctional now and we live in a country where the divorce rate is nearly fifty percent. Another reason is our society is becoming less patriarchal. Women nowadays have equal rights as men and are almost on the same playing field in society as men. Families are no longer sticking it out for there kids’, like in the past. Women are less afraid to file for divorce or separation in a bad relationship because they are less likely to be judged or to be blamed for dysfunctionalism like before.
In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s if a husband and wife got a divorce society would ridicule the wife and place the blame on her saying it was her fault the marriage did not work. Another reason for higher rates of single parent families is because more couples are having babies outside of marriage. Children are often being raised by only their mother because numerous families consist of deadbeat dads’ who aren’t there to provide for or raise their own children. Single parents often have to work multiple jobs just to give their kids warm clothes, food, and a place to live. With ingle parents working so much, many kids are less supervised then in the past. Now a days kids are raising themselves. Children often come home to an empty house after school. Sometimes the eldest sibling in the family is responsible for taking care of his or her younger siblings. Day cares are becoming the only option for single parent families. In two parent families now a days, both parents are working full time jobs. It’s “estimated that thirty one percent of two parent families have both parents working full time” (Allen p. 65). Their are becoming far less stay at home mothers.
And fathers in some cases are not always the bread winners in the family. Many women are taking over male dominated jobs such as a doctor or CEO. Mother’s in a two parent household who have a full time job, are often still expected to take on the second shift at home. Mother’s working the second shift will often come home from work to cook dinner, do the laundry and clean the house. This in turn has weakened relationships between parents and children and created distance within some families. These weak family relationships have devastated children’s growth and development.
Children are forced to mature at an earlier age and resolve emotional conflicts on their own. Children are being raised without the right morals and not being taught how to be respectful and socialize with people outside of their family. There is more domestic violence in families than ever before. Children are often becoming secondary victims because of the violence and abuse they are seeing within their family. The family violence in the household can be connected with the many emotional stressors families face. Some of the emotional stress families experience is due to anticipated strain.
Anticipated strain refers to “the individual’s expectation that current strains will continue into the future or that new strains will be experienced” (Cooper p. 142). This strain is more prevalent in single parent families where poverty and low income is a problem but can also be found in two parent families as well. Today people are very concerned about their own self interest and success. They are beginning to view marriage as a financial liability rather than a sacred sacrament. Some families now a days are not structured like the traditional families.
Now same sex marriages are becoming more popular and homosexuality is becoming more acceptable in society. With the emergence of same sex marriages, traditional roles between father and son or mother and daughter are being destroyed. Gays are sometimes having to play the role of both mother and father. The traditional roles created by society many years ago helped children to understand what behaviors were acceptable for both boys and girls; helping children form their sexual identity. The sexual identity of young children is important to their mental and physical well being, as well as their socialization in society.
Community Communities were once regarded as a close knit group of neighbors and friends, that would do anything for each other, and would protect each other from criminal activities. Neighbors were thought of as family and would often come over for family activities, parties, and other celebrations. Solidarity played a major role in neighborhood friendships. These days families are becoming more involved with themselves and are isolating themselves from their community. People are becoming more self indulgent and are putting themselves first before others.
With the economy being bad and not as good as it use to be, families are forced to move several times to find better paying jobs. Finding a steady well paying job now a days is very rare. “On average a family may move up to five times in a lifetime”(McQuail p. 75). This has had a major impact on community lifestyle. Now a days, knowing your neighbors can be dangerous in some ways. Our society is becoming increasingly more violent, and the chances of having someone live in your neighborhood who is a convicted criminal or sexual offender is becoming more common.
Reasons like this or similar to this have caused neighbors to become more suspicious of each other and distant from each other. “Factors such as satisfaction with the community, expected length of community residency, and the number of neighbors one could identify by first name basis is becoming less prevalent” (p. 6 McMillan). Neighbors are more likely to remember each other by profession than by name. Neighborhood watch groups in the community are slowly becoming obsolete. People in communities have lost their trust in each other, and are no longer leaving their cars or doors open.
In the past some people would even leave their cars on to defrost or leave their keys in their car visor overnight. Now a days more cars are being stolen off the street and taken to chop shop and stripped of all their parts for cash. Neighbors in the past would all gather in the summer for cookouts and fun games and socializing in the form of block parties, but even community gatherings like this are becoming few and far between. It’s hard to get councilmen or community leaders to allow people to close off their street because its becoming a safety hazard.
The effects of social disorganization are most recognizable in lower income neighborhoods where people tend to be more defensive and protective of their surroundings. Neighborhoods located in poor and lower income areas do not have the same psychological components at those defined by past generations. Street gangs have a huge influence on youth living in poverty stricken communities. Youth in communities are being driven away from school to participate in gang initiations or criminal behaviors such as drug use, assault, murder, graffiti, and prostitution.
Drive by shootings in communities are increasing with gang development. Many of the gang violence is the cause of turf wars or gang initiation. Programs in communities such as DARE and other drug and violence programs offered by police in the past have been done away with in other cities but just recently in Cleveland. Communities have been gradually becoming poorer and have recently cut funding for lunch programs for public kids as well as some sports teams.
Some neighborhoods in Cleveland are gradually becoming more and more dangerous after a law was passed by the city a few years ago stating that firefighters and police officers working for Cleveland no longer had to live in the city. People in the neighborhood who felt safe and secure before are no longer feeling that way since the law was passed because hundreds or city workers fled the city for the suburbs. Emotional connections between neighbors are becoming more and more non existent as individualism is becoming important than group identity.
Neighbors are more likely to show civil inattention regarding situations in their community. Civil inattention is the “practice of acting as if you did not see anything when you really did” (Chriss p. 77). This has caused low community attachment, safety concerns, social and physical discord, and community instability and disorganization. One reason that contributes to the lack of solidarity among neighbors is the diminishing importance of religion. Religion In the past religion was the number one thing on peoples mind. Religion was the reason why people got up in the morning.
It was their heart and motivation for the day and their lives were governed by it. Daily routines were carried out based on religion and people lived to please God and not disobey any of his ten commandments. Children were being taught at a young age that if you disobeyed any of these commandments you were doomed and were going to hell. People would pray and attend Mass every week. Sundays were the only day of rest in communities and it was referred to as the sabbath day. If anyone broke the sabbath they were chastised by the whole community for it.
Parents taught their children to be Christ like and have religious moral values and to live their lives according to the bible. Religion was “one of the first systematic forms of social control”(Chriss p. 64). It is constantly being questioned and challenged by society. Issues such as marriage, abortion, and sexual orientation are being debated every year by political candidates in America. With many issues arising within religious groups; people are detaching themselves from religious denominations. Priest were once revered by Catholics as saints who were incapable of doing no wrong.
Issues of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church involving molestation and raping of young boys as well as the closing of multiple Cleveland parishes and other parishes around the U. S. have led to the detachment of Catholicism by Americans. Suicide killers who kill in the name of Allah, and the belief of multiple wives within the Mormon church, has also influenced others to create their own beliefs and values. Among “ages 18-29 one and four are not affiliated with any particular religion and live by their own set of beliefs and values” (Hess p. 65).
The influence of religion is mainly mental based on the fact that people need to feel a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself. One third of people who practiced religion say they do it because it’s the right thing to do. Those people who believe and practice religion have a very different way of thinking then people who do not. People who believe in religion often look down on others who do not and begin to view others as different than themselves. This has caused religion to change because instead of creating unity, instead causes a modern day religious divide between people.
Religious divisions between Israel and Palestine are publicized everyday through the media, depicting gruesome and horrendous crimes and other controversial issues. Media The news today is very different than it has ever been. The goal of news media is to play on peoples emotions. The media tries their best to cover stories that will cause some kind of emotion in almost anyone. It often seems like the more violent and gruesome something is, the better. Violence is depicted so vividly today than ever before with the advancement of technology. The news tries to place fear inside the public to try and control and lessen crime in the world.
The media reports on violence makes the average person believe that crime is increasing dramatically, when in reality crime has stayed the same throughout the country. The media is also to blame for why people in power are calling for corrections to abandon rehabilitation and instead use retribution. Music today is more explicit than in the past. Lyrics are more vulgar and depicting. Music videos today show women barely clothed dancing sexually. Rap videos today show half naked women dancing on rappers who are throwing money at them. Many feminists have brought lawsuits against rappers for there degrading videos.
Rappers talking about shooting and killing people, using and selling drugs, and pimping girls has caused parents and adults all over the country to plead for rap to be removed from the music market. Videos and television today has also become very explicit and graphic. Videos that would’ve been rated R ten years ago are now getting lower ratings such as PG-13 in order to make more money. On TV shows swearing is now a common trend. A few years ago you could not find single television show that had cussing in it. Reality TV shows today such as Jersey Shore are creating stereotypes about Italian Americans.
The show refers to Italians as guidos. They define guidos on this show as Italian Americans who lift weights, gel their hair, go tanning, party and get drunk and have sex with a lot people. In the past TV shows involved families working together to solve problems and learn valuable life lessons. This type of TV helped viewers learn from other peoples mistakes and helped them grow up and mature. Sports celebrities today are making millions of dollars more than they did in the past. Athletes today are more concerned about how much money they’ll make then how many wins they will achieve.
Athletes are very outspoken, and arrogant. They like to flaunt their money by purchasing the latest and most expensive clothes, shoes, cars, technology, and other material items. Athletes are donating more money today than ever before but that’s because they are making more money than ever before. They are often times the image of many advertisements on TV, and try to relay positive messages to youth in America about following their dreams and not giving up. But athletes are also committing crimes such as drinking and driving, manslaughter, rape, assault, domestic violence, and murder.
When sport celebrities commit crimes they usually make national headlines. Sports figures play big roles in young children lives because kids want to dress, speak and act just like them. Conclusion The four agents of socialization play a significant role in people’s lives from the time they are young to the time they are grown. Each agent affects people more than others. People can become criminals if all or just one of these agents is flawed. The human brain is a sponge that soaks up information all around us. People learn from what they see and witness on a daily basis. We are creatures of habit, that act on what we know.
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