How do socializing agents contribute to an institutionalized system of social inequality?

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thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Socialization is the process of cultural learning. Socializing agents facilitate the process of socialization and due to differences these agents contribute to an institutionalized system of social inequality in a variety of ways.

In a family, the first born is required to conform to high discipline standards which are different for the last born who is raised in a more relaxed environment. This leads to social equality between the two siblings where the first born becomes a conformist and the last born rebellious.

Children are raised differently according to the social classes they belong to. In a middle class family the children are typically exposed to a variety of experiences and are engaged in family decisions. In a working class family the children are often raised to obey directives and are not involved in decision making. This yields different results for the children in the workplace. Children from a middle class family may be preferred for high paying jobs while children from working class families will be preferred for low paying jobs. This state is based on the cultural capital transferred during their upbringing.

In an educational setting, children are treated differently according to their gender in the learning process, leading to social inequality. Boys will often be considered for more physical activities as compared to girls in the same class. This leads to the development of different ideals and beliefs for the different genders as instilled in them through education.

Other socializing agents such as mass media and online communities may produce differences within the society and contribute to social inequality.

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kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"Social agents" consist of those categories of humanity that have the greatest influence upon children. The most important such influences are parents, followed, in no particular order, by teachers, siblings, peers, and the media. 

There is no question that social agents influence the process of socialization. It would be folly to believe otherwise. How parents raise their children, how teachers inform and instruct, and how the media presents information all affect the process of socialization.

Social inequality is a product of many factors, including racism and perceptions of women as inferior to men—assumptions which have no basis in fact. Social inequality is also a product of cultural and economic. Certainly, if a child is raised believing that certain ethnicities or women are inherently inferior to Caucasians and/or men, that could perpetuate the institutionalization of social inequality.

Also important are socially constructed attitudes toward education and work. Certain attitudes, like a disdain for the concept of "higher education" on the part of parents who eschewed college, can strongly influence children towards professions with lower earning potential. 

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Socializing agents contribute to such a system by helping to convince us that the unequal system is normal and proper.

Socializing agents teach us what is expected by our society.  They help us to learn what is normal in our society.  As they teach us these things, we tend to internalize and accept what they say.  When they teach us that certain inequalities are normal, we tend to accept those ideas.  For example, if our religious leaders and our parents teach us that women should be subservient to men, we accept it and inequality persists.  If our teachers and media tell us that it is normal for some people to be rich and others to be poor, we accept it and inequality persists.

In these ways, socializing agents encourage us to accept systems of social inequality, thus perpetuating and institutionalizing those inequalities.