Agents of Socialization
My name is Annette Benjaminson, and I was born in San Francisco California. I have one younger brother and one younger sister. I am a wife to my husband Dane. I am a mother to three children ages 17, 14, and 2 years old. I am a dog mom of one German shepherd named Riley. I am an aunt to my one niece and one nephew. I am a college student currently attending American Public University. I recently retired from the United States Marine Corps and became a stay at home mom for the next six months. All these roles demand my time and effort to make them work and make everyone who interacts with me happy. There tend to be many times role conflict occurs. I am needed to be at work, I am needed to take my son to his soccer practices, and sometimes it is hard to be there as two different roles all the time.
I grew up poor, with my mother. My two younger siblings went to live with relatives due to our living status. So, most of the time it was just me and my mother. We were each other’s, primary social group. She was the one who I looked up to for anything about life. I wasn’t popular at school, I had very few friends, but I also learned from them and wanted a life as they had. As I said, I was extremely poor as a child, sometimes being homeless, and most of my school friends had nice homes and cars. My father died of cancer when I was very young, so the perception of a happy family with a loving father and mother at home taking care of their children, it was always a distant dream for me. Society painted the picture that to be considered as a family, there had to be a working father, a stay at home mother, and the children happily running around playing tag. I did not have this as a child. But I dreamt of having this type of family when I grew up. I had dreams and aspirations as well. I wanted to attend college and study in criminal justice and become a K-9 police officer. My mother raised me on welfare, and I felt so embarrassed by this. My mother fell into deep depression and was using alcohol and drugs to help her cope with her issues. I saw this growing up and used it as a strong reminder and goal to not want to be like her.
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I did not want to rely on government funds, I wanted to belong in society and earn my living. After high school, I decided I needed to get far away from where I was, and who I was surrounded by, because it was all negativity and bring me down. It was not the life I wanted and dreamt of having. I joined the United States Marine Corps searching for adventure and travel. I wanted a sense of belonging and responsibility. I had learned responsibility at such a young age, as I had to look after my mother at times as well as myself. I have always had the sense of being a care giver. Agent of Socialization – Family Growing up, my family life completely affected me and how I choose to live life today. My family is everything to me, and it is my priority. My parents were separated before my father passed away from cancer. I never really had a father figure in my life growing up. Even my mother who was my sole provider, didn’t take the time to teach me things I needed to know to get by in life. I learned a lot from my peers at school, and what I saw as far as my surroundings. Growing up for me, we were poor, going house to house, living in a car, or a tent on the beach, living in relative poverty. Relative poverty is being able to afford the basic necessities to survive, but unable to meet societies average standard of living (Openstax, 2018). Living solely on government aid, we were able to purchase the basic needs. I wasn’t able to work a job during high school due to not having a stable place to live, and the fact I helped take care of my mother. Also, a lot that factored into maybe why my mother was so depressed and secluded us from society, was her ethnic background. She was treated differently where we lived. We were treated unfairly; racial slurs were spray painted on our house and cars. Functioning in an environment that doesn’t accept a certain person because of their race was a huge factor in why I believe my mother acted the way she did. Functionalism is a system of interconnected parts that all work together to maintain a state of balance and social equilibrium as a whole (Mooney, Knox, Schacht, 2017). My mother had a college degree and could easily work a job, but she chose depression over wanting to make a living the right way. I didn’t want to take her same path. I wanted things to change. Agent of Socialization – Peers Since I never had a stable place I called home, or a school I went to continuously, I was never able to keep the same circle of friends. Maintaining friendships was hard for me. Always being the “new kid” at school was the norm for me. I never really got comfortable with it and kept quiet and to myself mostly. But after a while, I was able to find friends within my peer groups, and we shared similar interests and were able to talk about anything with each other. Peer groups are groups of the same age people who share similar interests and rely on each other for support and to have fun (Sawe, 2017). Having these friends helped me tremendously, but they wouldn’t ever last long. I never gave into peer pressures during my high school years. I always thought this is why I wasn’t socially accepted within my peer groups. This has led to me trying to find my social identity in life. Social Identity is how someone sees theirs self in relation to others in society (WordPress, n.d.). I was constantly trying to fit in with my peers, but I was so different, closed off, and never could fit in with my peers. After joining the military, I was able to finally feel as if I belonged somewhere. I met my husband in the military, and we had children. So, I began to take on more roles and felt more accepted and normal. I felt like I was taking a route in life with my career that most of my peers didn’t take. Most of my peers went off to college. I chose to take the path less traveled by my peers, especially being a woman. Agent of Socializaton – Education Junior High school for me was really the stepping stone into realizing that I had to make a change in my life. I longed for a change due to my childhood and how I was raised. I wanted change and did everything I could to ensure I stayed in school, learned, passed my classes, and earned my diploma. I wanted to graduate high school, and I wanted to go to college. Like my peers, we all wanted the same thing, to become smarter than our parents and graduate and move on to have good jobs so we could have nice things. Schools teach us as students how to live in life and what our specific roles are. Girls and boys and taught how to act and how we will be perceived in society. While I was growing up, it wasn’t normal for women to want to go off to the military. But I knew that was the only way I would get a change in my life. When my mother found out I enlisted and was leaving to boot camp, she was angry. She wanted me to go to college and get a degree. Leaving home and going into boot camp was a complete change to how I had been living and socializing in my life. During boot camp, I almost had to go through the process of resocialization. Resocialization is when you enter into a new environment and you have to conform to the new environment’s rules and regulations (OpenStax, 2018). It was like I became a whole new person being in the military, and I found it to be a place of acceptance, and were I strived to be. Agent of Socialization – Mass Media Mass media is how we receive information through television, newspapers, radio, and the internet (OpenStax, 2018). Mass media definitely impacts and influences the way we think we are supposed to act in society. We watch television and scroll through the internet and see things that we think are the normal thing to do to be accepted. Using a sociological imagination in this sense is helpful in that it what it acted out on television is what we as people should do in society to be accepted. I didn’t watch a lot of television as a child, but what I do remember watching made me realize the life I was living was not like the life of the people on television shows. Everyone on television was happy and dressed nicely. I never fit in with my peers because I didn’t have the latest clothes or shoes like they did. As a child, I remember getting the Sunday newspaper. It was extremely thick due to the store advertisements that were placed inside. I was always curious and interested in reading the ads, looking at the pictures of clothes and electronics. Seeing the latest gaming systems, or latest Nike shoes and dreaming about owning them. I was led to believe that the only way that I would be accepted in society was to have these things. Conclusion I have discussed who I am, and four agents of socialization. Agents of socialization shape who we are and how we are supposed to act in society to be accepted. Agents of socialization set the stepping stones to what social norms are. They are important because they outline how we as people learn from childhood to adulthood how to socialize. I have also covered a few sociological concepts and theories, and how they are important when applying them to an agent of socialization.
Openstax College CNX. (2018). Introduction to Sociology 2e. Types of Poverty. Retrieved from https://apus.intelluslearning.com/lti/#/document/102173436/1/443f72f5295674ab1aafa3d2f4449a4b/e99ddb63968161202ed15d748214754b/browse_published_content/3431/1949/27437/1/lesson/lesson?hideClose=false&tagId=26159&external_course_id=386430&external_course_name=SOCI111%20D002%20Fall%2018 Mooney, Knox, Schacht. (2017). The Three Main Sociological Perspectives. Understanding Social Problems, 5th Edition. Retrieved from https://laulima.hawaii.edu/access/content/user/kfrench/sociology/the%20three%20main%20sociological%20perspectives.pdf Sawe, B. E. (2017). World Atlas. What are Agents of Socialization? Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-agents-of-socialization.html WordPress (n.d.). Sociological Perspective: Key Concepts. ReviseSociology. Retrieved from https://revisesociology.com/2017/04/04/sociological-perspectives-key-concepts/