What are the major agents of socialization in U.S. society today?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would argue that the main agents of socialization in the United States today are the same (with, perhaps, one exception) as they have been for the last 50 or 60 years.  They include such things as the family, peers, the educational system, and the media, and the importance of the media should not be underestimated.  Some of this socialization is “delivered” in new ways, but the agents remain the same.

Socialization is the process by which we learn the values of our society.  We are taught how society expects us to behave in a variety of situations.  This allows us to become functioning members of our society.

The main agent of socialization has been the family for as long as America has existed.  People spend their formative years with their families, learning how to behave properly.  After a while, peers and the educational system become very important agents of socialization.  Children spend much of their time at school and with friends.  Some of this interaction with peers is now “delivered” through social media, but peers are still the agent of socialization.  The media also affects us through the news it delivers to us and through the messages of the shows we watch for entertainment.

The one agent of socialization that is much less important in some parts of America today is the church.  Americans are still religious, but in some parts of the country, organized churches have lost some of their influence.  Outside of this decline in the impact of religion, the agents of socialization are much the same as they have been for the last half century or so.