Assessing The Socialization By Social Systems Sociology Essay
The social system is rigid. Society however is malleable to the social system. It has always been hard to bring about changes to the system, but it has always been good at bringing about changes to society on an individual level. The difference between the two is that the social system is the system itself in which people interact with each other, or as defined by Princeton University – “the people in a society considered as a system organized by a characteristic pattern of relationships”1, while society is the people under a social system’s jurisdiction, or “a highly structured system of human organization for large-scale community living that normally furnishes protection, continuity, security, and a national identity for its members” 2. The rigidity of the social system is one of the most apparent causes of the way that the social system shapes society on an individual level, termed socialization by social systems. The social systems here in socialization by social system is a factor in socialization here, one that isn’t focused on much by sociologists. And the socialization here is “the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status.”8
Socialization by social systems might be confused for social conformity, but the two terms are distinct. Social conformity can broadly be defined as “peer pressure,” (a negative connotation, but can have either good or bad effects) or more narrowly defined as “a change in a person's behavior or opinions as a result of real or imagined pressure from a person or a group of people.” 3 The difference between the two is that socialization by social systems, the individuals are being shaped by the social system rather than by their peers and it often occurs and becomes more apparent when that individual tries to alter the social system that later alters the individual instead. Another difference is that socialization by social systems is done almost entirely subconsciously, while social conformity may be done either subconsciously or consciously. Informational influence, an influence to accept information obtained from another as evidence about reality5, is usually subconscious. Normative influence, an influence to conform to the positive expectations of another6, is usually conscious. Another thing that sets conformity aside from socialization by social systems is that conformity usually takes place under pressure (peer pressure) while socialization by social systems is progressive, and happens over a long period of time.
The social system is shaped around society itself, but as law states, it is easier to change one part of a system instead of changing the whole system itself. Take a car for example – if a faulty part exists within the car, it would be a lot easier and efficient to replace that one part rather than the whole car. Society works in this exact same way. If there is somebody that attempts to change the social system, by the law, it would be easier to “change” the person rather than the whole system, and so that’s exactly what the social system does.
The cause for the rigidity of the social system is simple. The system is just too big to be subject to changes by a minor ripple in the system. Think of the social system as the huge ocean, and the attempted change as a tiny red dyed water drop that is about to fall into the ocean. The water, at first, would still be a concentrated red, but it would later be engulfed by the huge ocean, as the dye would permeate throughout the vast sea, but the ocean, in this case the social systems would have the, dye, in this case, the person, conform to the ocean or the social system.
Urie Bronfenbrenner, in “The Ecology of Human Development,” has discussed four types of nested systems within society, the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, and the macrosystem. The microsystem is described as "a pattern of activities, roles, and interpersonal relations experienced by the developing person in a given setting with particular physical and material characteristics"4 Microsystems are usually immediate environments such as family, schools, and neighborhoods. Mesosystems “comprises the interrelations among two or more settings in which the developing person actively participates.” Examples are such as a child’s relations among home, and school; and for an adult: relations among family work and social life. An exosystem “refers to one or more settings that do not involve the developing person as an active participant, but in which events occur that affect, or are affected by, what happens in the setting containing the developing person.” Some examples of an exosystem in the case of a young child might include the parent’s place of work, a school class attended by an older sibling, or the parent’s network of friends. Finally, a macrosystem refers to “consistencies, in the form and content of lower-order systems (micro, meso, and exo) that might exist or could exist, at the level of the subculture or the culture as a whole, along with any belief systems or ideology underlying such consistencies.”
An apparent example would be the example at Aviation High School. We see this pretty clearly especially in by our school’s fifth year program. This idea crossed my mind last year when many of my friends were applying for the fifth year program, when in their freshmen year they had vowed that they would never even consider the fifth year program, and would have nothing to do with the two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licenses. This however changed as they went through their three years of Aviation and their whole mentality began to change. Instead of the rigid social system of aviation changing, the students began to change instead by their experiences in Aviation after three years.
This is also pretty evident in the world of politics. Many believe the political system to be corrupt, and many may set out to change the political system and bring reform and change to it. This individual’s critical perspective eventually leads him to run as a candidate for president. However, in his experience in running for office, the rigid political society changes him, rather than what he had initially indented to do, he himself changing the political system. The exact opposite of what he was trying to accomplish occurs. As he takes on the presidency, and feels the power for the first time, he then becomes who he had initially criticized the corrupt politician. The rigid political social system in this case also prevails over the individual that had set out to change the social system, and socialization by social system occurs.
Another example that pertains to this would be the social systems of our schools and educational systems. As freshmen, when we had first entered the high school we were all a little scared of the whole new high school process, and detested some of the seniors. But as we grew up to be seniors we changed into what we had detested about the seniors, and became just as they were. This process then repeats itself as we go from high school to college, just as it had when we had gone from elementary school to middle school.
Some of the same things can also be said about the student organization, especially in colleges where it becomes more observable. One of my friends that had entered college this year had to attend an orientation. At the orientation all the freshmen criticized it and called it “dumb” and “stupid.” But as they go through the college themselves, and finally control the student body themselves, they then become the ones that plan the “stupid” and “dumb” events such as the orientation.
Now when we discuss the effects of socialization by social systems, we find that it helps to create a streamlined society. It helps to create a society which becomes more predictable and therefore a more manageable society. A less random society means a society in which there is less chaos, disorder and confusion. All these positive aspects however are induced only when the society is not seeking change.
The effects of socialization by social systems also has many negative aspects. It tends to obstruct change, or makes progress very slow. This leads to an upset society if the society is seeking change, either it be the political system or any social systems in general, as the individuals in the society perceive no change, even when they are promised it. This lack of change is brought about by the social systems conforming the individual promising the change to the views that he/she had initially intended to change. This may sometimes cause chaos and disorder within the society seeking change and may produce political unrest and bring about an upheaval.
As was discussed earlier, the political system also often follows this form of socialization. Socialization by social systems in creating a more streamlined society tends to shun away dissenters, which at times may be considered adverse in the political world. For example, prominent dissenters such as Martin Luther King demonstrate this as he fought the structure already set by the social systems to try and alter it to accept African Americans into society as equals. 7 MLK set out to change the social structure but by overcoming the compelling forces of socialization by social systems he brought upon change, change that is often essential and necessary to a healthy society.
Susan B. Anthony is also another example of a distinguished dissenter who fought the social systems by leading the women suffrage movement, expanding the rights of women. 7 She also resisted the compelling force that the social systems have a proclivity to induce, and stimulated changes that permanently changed the face of the United State’s social system. These examples go to show that the effects of socialization though may help to create a more manageable society, hinder necessary change.
Socialization by social system is a subtle, but powerful socializing agent that is often overlooked. It permeates to every corner of society from politics to society in school. It is a phenomenon that we all have experienced at least once in our lifetime. It has changed us, but not necessarily conformed us to the ever changing society.
1 "social system." WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. 06 May. 2010. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/social system>.
2 "society." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 06 May. 2010. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/society>.
3 "Social Conformity and Influence". <http://www.stolaf.edu/people/huff/Violence%20Page/social_conformity_and_infl.htm>.
4 “The Bronfenbrenner, Urie. Ecology of Human Development. 1979.
5 Deutsch, Morton, and Harold B. Gerard. A Study Of Normative And Informational Social Influences Upon Individual Judgment.
6 E. Burnkrant, Robert, and Alain Cousineau. Informational and Normative Social Influence in Buyer Behavior. The University of Chicago Press, 1975.
7 Young, Ralph. Dissent in America: The Voices That Shaped a Nation. Longman, 2006.
8 "socialization." Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 07 Jun. 2010. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/socialization>.
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