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Primary socialisation takes place in the early stages of our human lives, and for most of us it is the relationship we have with our parents or those who have responsibility in bringing us up. This kind of relationship builds the early stages of childhood, which help us to grow physically and mentally conforming to the world around us. We learn things like talking (language) walking, eating and many other things that help us to adapt to our wellbeing. Secondary socialisation occurs a little bit later on in our lives, in most cases that's when we get exposed to other individuals (strangers) in society, and we are more aware of things going on around us and capable of making our own decisions for example; in schools, places of worship, media and immigrating to other parts of the world, all these contribute to our secondary socialisation.

Main agents of socialisation

Agents of socialisation are structured groups within which significant processes of socialisation occur. Sociologists say that society relies on these agents doing most of the socialisation. The family is the principal socialising agent and influences include: religion, peer groups, schools, and the mass media.

The family is the earliest and the most influential agent of socialisation. Sociologists say that without the support of older members of its species, a new born human baby could not survive. Without parents, or people who help raising children up from infantry stage, there wouldn't be any human survivors. General care is very essential to human upbringing. Things like; body control, feeding, hygiene, moral values or learning the skills and knowledge of living in a human society, is crucial to all human beings.

Human behaviour is shaped from this early stage of life. According to G.H Mead “the child achieves un understanding of being a separate agent by seeing how others behave toward her or him in social contexts”. ( Lifetime impacts affecting a person's self esteem, emotional health, identity and personality is all set in this crucial stage of socialisation. All this determines the way adults behave at a later stage of their lives when they begin secondary socialisation. The family plays an essential role in the transmission of the fundamental values that encourage and nurture learning in a young child.

School is another agency of secondary socialisation, from the age of six a child starts attending school and gets exposed to new ideas and new information. Introduction to a school system Influences the child to: rules outside its home, teachers and other school staff. It is the official place where society transmits accumulated knowledge and skills. Sociologists believe it is also the place where; cultural values, traditions, languages, gender, race and beliefs are passed on to others. A place where peer groups are popularly formed, due to students being of the same age, and participating in same activities such as sports and social clubs. This stage is crucial in society, for this is where professionals such as; doctors, teachers, politicians and many other intellectuals are born.

The role of religion as an agent of socialisation can't be ignored. It is a primary transmitter for our core personal and societal values. Through the process of socialisation, the hidden hand of social forces beyond our control guides our lives. Melford Spiro defines religion as “beliefs in superhuman beings and in their power to assist or harm man”. (Haralambos M Sociology a new approach). For example, The Ten Commandments say: you shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, and you shall not steal (The Holy bible) do teach us high values of society. Although people do conform to religion, and get strongly controlled, it helps human beings in many areas to live in a healthy society. Christian marriage is a good example, it is believed in the Christian faith that if marriage is established in church, it sets a firm foundation and beginning of a healthy family, which is acceptable in society and is crucial to a child in its early years.

Sociologists believe that the role of religion in the lives of children and young adults have been minimised. As a result; the powerful external forces faced by teens - drugs, a sexualised culture, violence, negative peer pressures, and other dysfunctional influences, become more influential. Parents should become more aware of the stabilizing influences of religion in a child's life and realise that it is an important element of the socialisation process.

Media is a highly influential agent of socialisation. It includes: television, radio, newspaper, movies, music, magazines, billboards, books internet and many others. From the age of two a child is exposed to non ending cartoon television programmes. Sociologists say that this can gradually have a negative effect on them. A child can throw tantrums if a favourite programme is switched off. Today In society, because of working parents children are often exposed to television programmes including those that are not of their age! As a result, less communication between parents and their children is common in most families because of media influence. Messages carried by the media are powerful and seductive. Many of those messages and values challenge or directly contradict what parents teach their children.

Media continues its influence in teenagers, as a result of the movie industry and music industry. The world today is witnessing many uncontrollable teenagers due to the values they have adopted from being exposed to the media. Gang cultures have been formed due to violent films being shown all over the world. The culture portrayed by media emphasises; glamour, sexual satisfaction, promiscuity, violence and immediate gratification of needs.

The power of media declines in adults but still remains strong in some areas. For example an advertisement on television can show a designer perfume at £30 in a popular store, but same perfume in the local market can be found at £5. So as adults become aware of such differences, they make appropriate decisions in what to go for regardless of what the media is portraying. Example of the internet has emerged as another media source. A big influence among adults; people are turning to internet dating to find suitable partners for them. As much as a wider audience can be reached through the media, it has a very effective influence to us as humans which can be greatly positive or negative. It is a huge aspect of socialisation because it impacts who we are and our views and opinions on society and the whole world.

Each of the socialisation agents plays a crucial role in all generations; those of today and those to come. Life in this world is based about living together in society as human beings. Though we are individuals in our own way without such socialising agents it would be possible to learn and interact as human beings in this world.


Halambros M 1997 Causeway press limited

The Holy Bible