Posts Tagged ‘socialization’

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Let’s Get Socialized!

March 9, 2010

Banana Bread Beer Originally uploaded by Schlüsselbein2007

by Sarah Michele Ford

Socialization. That’s what you do when you go out with your friends on a Friday night, maybe drinking some beers, right?

Wrong. When you go out with your friends on Friday night, with or without the benefit of adult beverages, you’re socializing, having a social life.

But hold up a minute – maybe that’s not so wrong after all. Maybe by going out with your friends on Friday night you are engaging in socialization. Maybe you are being socialized by your friends and maybe your friends are socializing you.

Socialization is, after all, the process or learning to live within your culture. It’s learning the norms and the values, the expectations of interactions. It’s learning the institutions and the organizations and how you should to relate to those larger social structures.

So if you go to a new bar, or you meet new people, or you go to your first curling match, you will find yourself being socialized into that new setting. Sociologists call this process of learning new norms and values resocialization, and it’s something that happens throughout our lives.

Next time you go out to socialize with your friends, ask yourself: am I having a social life, or am I engaging in socialization?

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Learning Gender

February 16, 2010

By Sarah Michele Ford

Interacting with young children can be a great window into the ways in which we are socialized into all sorts of things, but most especially gender. This weekend my husband came downstairs wearing a hoop earring instead of his usual stud. As soon as our five-year-old daughter noticed this, she protested.

Kid: DADDY! You can’t wear that earring!
Husband: Why can’t I wear it?
Kid: It’s a GIRL EARRING!
Me: What makes it a girl earring?
Kid: It just IS! Daddy, go change it!

We probed further to try to get her to explain why dangly earrings are for girls and stud earrings are for boys and the best we could get out of her was that girls wear big earrings and boys wear small earrings. Despite us providing her with lots of counter-examples, she stood firm in her belief that certain types of jewelry are gender-marked.

How did she come to make a connection between hoop earrings and gender? What subtle forces are at work here?

(Image credit: Native American Art – Ear Rings; Originally uploaded by Tobyotter)

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A Girl Like Me

February 4, 2010

Posted by: Chad M. Gesser

Twitter: @profgesser

Email: chad.gesser@kctcs.edu

Socialization is characterized as the life long social experience by which individuals develop their human potential and learn culture.  The socialization process begins soon after birth, as babies are cared for (or not) by their parents or other loved ones from their family.  Of course that experience is as varied as there are cultures in our world.  We begin to learn at a very early age how to love, to hate, to care for, to fight, and to ultimately relate to other people in our society.

We also learn our position in society, particularly in terms of social class, gender, and race.  We are influenced by history and the social norms of society.  Norms aren’t necessarily right or wrong, but we gauge ourselves to the cultural standards in society, and as Mead would characterize, we develop that sense of self.

As an example of how we internalize what we perceive in society, watch the “Girl Like Me” video below

.  Many students question the validity of these girls’ interpretations of what others think about them.  Keep in mind these are the experiences of these girls, right or wrong, and it is the “job” of the Sociologist to ask the critical questions as to why.




What shapes their viewpoints?  What popular messages in society influence their perceptions?  What ideas and/or behaviors have they garnered from their family and peers that influences their sense of self?

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Social Interaction and Technology

February 4, 2010

Posted by: Chad M. Gesser

Twitter: @profgesser

Email: chad.gesser@kctcs.edu

I authored a blog post in early January entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.  That post addressed the influence of technology on the current generation, using terms to identify the younger generation such as “Wired, Wireless, Mobile, Open, Participatory, and Empowered”.

We tend to have informal conversations in my department from time to time around the use of web 2.0 technologies, particularly Facebook and Twitter.  It is obvious, as was reflected in the the Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants post, that there is a very large gap regarding the use of information technology and devices between the younger and older generations in the United States.  Recently I came across an interesting graphic by Focus.com called The State of the Internet.  It’s quite large (see below), but take a few minutes to look through the information presented in the graphic.
Note the difference in age groups using the internet.
Part of those informal discussions we have around our department involve the environment of the classroom versus the environment of the virtual classroom.  Does online learning (learning through the internet, using Facebook and Twitter) meet the same standards and achieve the same results as the traditional classroom setting?  There are a variety of issues to be addressed regarding online learning, some of which can be found here.
This is a topic of much consideration of faculty and students at varies institutions across the United States, and the world.  Taking that notion one step further, if young people are using the internet so frequently, along with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace (see this report providing indication that teens don’t tend to use Twitter that much), then we begin to need to address this fundamental change in a new form of social interaction, forming new communities.
This is the basis of social networking sites: networking through interaction, encouraging negotiation, communication, and collaboration.
During our informal discussion today, I mentioned the community or personal learning network I had established through my use of Facebook and Twitter.  A colleague replied, “But that’s not community.”
Can we have meaningful social interactions without physical appearance?  How does current internet technology facilitate better social interaction?  Does the technology hinder social relationships?  How do the changes wrought by recent technologies differ than say the invention of the telephone?  In your opinion, do our relationships benefit or suffer as a result of the use of technology?  Can we have community through online interaction?
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Bigger Prisons, Bigger Problems?

May 19, 2009

Britain is going through a prison crisis—they have more criminals to put in jail than jails! Until recently, the British government was planning to build large prisons to hold these criminals. The prisons, dubbed “Titan Prisons” by the British press, were to be designed similarly to American prisons, each holding close to 3,000 prisoners. But now it appears the British government is not going to build these huge prisons. Instead, they are going to a build a larger number of smaller scale prisons.

Pilikan Bay Prison in California, a "super max" mega prison.

Pilikan Bay Prison in California, a "super max" mega prison.

Sociologists worry about the idea of prison altogether, since it can be a form of secondary socialization. Socialization is the social process a person goes through to learn the rules of society. Some sociologists hold that prisoners are re-socialized in prison—they are taught how to be more violent, have less respect for authority, and become more criminally active by other inmates. This negative socialization process is called “prisonization.” Some of these sociologists hold that the bigger the prison, the less control authorities have over the prison population and the more likely it is that this negative re-socialization process will occur.

What do you think? If you would like to voice your own sociological insights, please respond to one of the topics below:

1. How can putting people in prison protect society? What other remedies do you think society has? What are some advantages and disadvantages of these alternatives?

2. How can putting people in prison ultimately hurt society? Would the size of prisons increase the negative social processes you’ve listed? How?

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Empty Nesters Impact on Socialization

April 8, 2009

Some sociologists have noted a correlation or connection between education and family size. Some research suggests that the higher the level of education obtained by a husband and wife, the fewer children they have in their family. Some people in the X generation (people born after 1960) and the millennium generation (those coming to age now) have decided not to have any children at all. These people are called “empty nesters.”

Current sociological theories regarding socialization hold that the family is the key agent of socialization or teaching the rules of society to our young people. Researchers fear that the continual shrinkage of the middle class and lower upper class (what some neo-Marxists call the petty bourgeoisie) might lead to a future society with a different set of values and beliefs.

What do you think? Do you have anything to add to this topic? If so, please pick a talking point below and respond to it:

1. If the middle class and the upper class become smaller, what changes do you think this will cause of the social fabric of American society?

2. What political effects do you think such a demographic shift might have on the country? Are you seeing any of those effects now?

3. What economic effects do you think having a smaller middle and upper class might have on America? Why?

4. Do you think this demographic shift could lead to a form of social evolution that Karl Marx would support? Why?

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