In this lecture, we shall look at the most important agents of socialisation from adolescence onward. First, We will look at adult socialisation and Resocialisation. We will also look at some important agents of socialisation such as mass media, school, peer groups, state and more.
We have already learnt about primary socialisation. Many social scientists have written about this period of socialisation. Socialisation does not end after childhood. It is a life long process and so we need to know about secondary socialisation.
Adult Socialisation and Resocialisation Adult socialisation is a time of learning new roles and statuses. As Tischler cited, adult socialisation is different from primary socialisation. Adults become more aware that they are being socialised. They will actually do advanced education and on-the-job training. Adults also have more control over socialisation and therefore want to learn more or make the best of opportunities.
Resocialisation as Tischler notes, involves exposure to ideas or values that in one way or another conflict with what we learned in childhood. An example of Resocialisation could be coming to university. This new environment has changed many peoples views. Many of the things their parents have taught them are now being re-analysed. Resocialisation can bring about changes in religion and political beliefs. For instance, one might convert from being catholic and become enlightened by new age values.
Peer groups Peer Groups are strong socializing agents for adolescents who are still trying to find their own identity. The adolescent struggles with being a part of a group and being themselves. Peer groups usually consist of people of similar ages and social status. The dictionary meaning of the word peer is: and equal in civil standing, or rank, equal in any respect (Datta A, 1984, 67).
It should be noted that gender differences in the peer groups do exist. As Schaefer and Lamm cited, males usually spend more time with a group of males whereas females seem to have a single close female friend (1994). These differences in emotional intimacy show that females have strong emotional ties and males prefer group activity.
Peer groups aid in letting the individuals gain independence from parents however most adolescents remain emotionally and economically dependent on parents (Schaefer RT and RP Lamm 1994,69) .In unstable families peer groups are a form of stability for the adolescent.It seems adolescence is a time when the individual participates less in the family activities and more with the peer group. This is because the adolescent is trying to form an identity. This causes a struggle between still being young and wanting to be independent. Schaefer and Lamm noted that peer groups assist in the transition to adult responsibilities(1994). Peer groups therefore serve a valuable function.
Mass Media Radio, television, cinema, newspapers, magazines, music, and the Internet are powerful agents of socialisation.
Television is a leisure activity, which has a range of viewers, and therefore many members of society are socialised by this medium. Television can be harmful as one imitates what is on television and this can threaten authority (White G 1977). Television advertisements actually socialise people into certain behaviour patterns. For instance infomercials convince people that they need to lose weight or that they just have to have a new kind of improved oil for their cars.
Television also portrays gender roles (Schaefer RT and RP Lamm 1994). It teaches us what the idea of a man is and how women are meant to act. Nowadays with drag queens on television, adults and adolescents views on gender roles have been challenged.
Television does not always have a negative socialising influence. Exposure to television can improve ones grasp of English (Datta A 1984) .In a place like south Africa this is essential as many adults do not understand English which is essential for global communication. Programmes such as Yiso Yiso also teach adolescents and are a good way of communicating certain ideas.
I have focussed mainly on television. However, developments in the fields of information and communication technology, will further increase significance in the daily lives of people in all phases of life (Hurrelmann K 1988). The Internet will probably become a stronger socialising agent as more people have access.
State The state almost shapes our life cycle. As it stands the state runs most of our hospitals, insurance companies etc. These institutions are regulated and licensed by governmental bodies. As Schaefer and Lamm noted because of these regulations on when we can drive, or drink alcohol or vote or retire, our life cycles are shaped (1994). The state forces us at certain ages to socialise in such a way. It shapes our behaviour patterns as we are influenced by the state into socialising only as accepted.
Adolescents and school
School plays a major role in socialising adolescents. It is where peer groups are formed. It is also a place of education where the individual learns to socialise with both authority (teachers) and peers. Interpersonal relationships are the key role of the school as a socialising agent, (White G 1977,52). The function of school is usually to get the individual a future place in the workplace. One learns competitiveness and conformity at school. One learns to respond to bells and timetables. It is socialisation at school that encourages carrying over these behavioural patterns into adult life.
Adults and School As parents of school-aged children, adults are confronted by a range of socialisation forces from school. Parents teach their children certain values. Parents are faced with having to socialise with the school and meeting with teachers , (White G 1977,95).
Some adults may decide to further their own education. As White noted some women that might have missed education, return in adulthood to obtain qualifications(1977). Higher education socialises such women into a higher set of values. It seems when one is an adult school, becomes a wanted socialising agent.
Work, marriage and parenthood As one moves out of adolescence new, tensions and agents of socialisation affect the individuals life.
Whereas the adolescent depend heavily on his peer group for friendship, there is, in early adulthood less opportunity for this kind of social intercourse, because of the heavy workload arising from the combination of several new roles, for example, family and work roles, (Gerdes LC 1988,274).
Workplace When one starts working, it is an indication that one has passed out of adolescence (Schaefer RT and RP Lamm 1994, 61). There are new roles and statuses. It requires that the person be socialised to meet those new roles (Tischler H 1996,126).
The kind of jobs we decide to choose are usually determined by what we learnt in childhood or adolescence. If, for example, my father were a doctor and my mother an accountant, I would be heavily influenced by their occupations.
Many people will change jobs two or three times in their lives, because as the socialising influences change we learn new things and we find that we have to continually adapt to new workplaces (White G 1977,106).
Schaefer and Lamm described four phases of occupational socialisation (1994). First is career choice this is choosing which varsity or college to study at and whether one actually wants to train. Then there is anticipatory socialisation this is where we observe what jobs our parents did and the people around us do. The third phase is conditioning and commitment. One starts reluctantly adjusting until an acceptance of pleasurable duties begins. Finally continuous commitment occurs and the job becomes an indistinguishable part of the persons identity, (Schaefer RT and RP Lamm 1994).
Marriage and Parenthood One of the great adult responsibilities in our society is marriage (Tischler H 1996,125). The relationship between partners is a big demand for socialisation on the adult. Marriage is a learning environment .It is about adapting and compromising. Indeed divorce does exist and this could suggest a failure of socialisation (White G 1977, 90).
However, often at this time of anxiety and learning to cope with the responsibility of marriage a new role is placed on the married couple. Parenthood is a time of enormous responsibility. Financial plans are made, living space is created, baby care is studied, (Tischler H 1996, 125). During pregnancy, the partners form a close bond and the birth of the child brings the realisation that the couple are now a mother and father.
This a time when the adult learns more about themselves and it can be a second chance to resolve old conflicts. Now the parents are old enough to use there past experiences to resolve those conflicts that were not resolved when they were younger, (Tischler H 1996, 125).
Conclusion: Mass Media, school, state, workplace etc are all important agents of socialisation. Socialisation is a never-ending process. In the different phases of our life cycle, different agents of socialisation become more important.