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Agents Of Socialization

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Agents of socialization in short are the people, groups, and social institutions, as well as the interactions within these groups that influence a person's social and self-development. Agents of socialization are believed to provide the critical information needed for children to function successfully as a member of society. Some examples of such agents are family, neighborhood, schools, peers, religion, sports, the workplace, and especially the mass media. Each agent of socialization is linked to another. For example, in the media, symbolic images affect both the individual and the society, making the mass media the most controversial socialization agent. One of the most obvious places agents of socialization lay is in the malls of America. Malls are filled with advertisements and consumed by the mass media touching on all levels of society.

No one is immune from the affect of the agents of socialization that exist in malls. Anyone and everyone who is part of a society is a product of socialization. Within every advertisement, clothing store, toy store, arcade, music store, etc, there is a gender preferred subliminal message being sent. The way toys are divided into male sections and female sections and the way advertisements portray all men and women in a certain way contribute to societies "norm" of gender roles. The mass media is one of the most influential agents of socialization and malls are surrounded by it. The messages given through the media act as the teachers of gender roles, values, ideologies, and beliefs, and individuals who pick up on these messages eventually take on, whats thought to be, the normative roles of society. Both boys and girls rely on society's expectations in regard to both masculinity and femininity in order to interpret interaction and to develop expectations for themselves and those around them. It is because of these agents of socialization, that gender roles are created. Advertisements portray both men and women in characteristically stereotypical fashions that support the various institutions and socialization agents. The women depicted in these advertisements fit the stereotypical roles related to sexuality by focusing on beauty, body image, and physical attractiveness. They are skinny and tan, with teeth as white as paper and hair looking healthy and fresh. Girls in society look up to these women being portrayed in the posters as models of how they are supposed to be, and try to fit the "role" of being a woman; hence the reason anorexia, bulimia, depression etc is so common in teenagers. The men in these posters on the other hand are depicted as muscular, tan, strong, wealthy, and powerful, they too try to fit their "role" of manhood; hence the reasons there are so many violent teenage boys. They all think that being tough and strong is how they are supposed to be, and girls are depicted to be weak, dainty, and depended on males.

Going into different stores, one can easily pick up on the major gender roles each store supports. Even the morals of an innocent toy store, such as KB Toys, is tainted by the gender-differentiating dolls for girls, and trucks for boys. Upon entering the store you can tell right away which aisles attract which kids. To the left there is pink fluffy bears, pink Barbie and friends toys, white teddy bears etc. To the right there is a less vibrant color setting, coordinating army green, black, and gray color schemes. I think it is apparent to anyone who enters these stores that the pink pretty isles are meant to attract little girls, and the dark green and gray isles are meant to attract boys. Upon the packages of toy trucks and guns, there are pictures of young boys playing with them and/or cartoon male figures controlling them. On the packaging of Barbie and her friends there are also other girls on the packaging. I was unable to pick up on a single female on the package of any toy truck or gun throughout the entire store. The toys for boys are all mechanically related, teaching and encouraging boys to be the outdoor type. They encourage boys to want to play with tractors, or shoot people. Again, there wasn't a single gun in the girl isle. For the girl toys, they have lifelike babies, which encourages them to practice or prepare to fill the role of motherhood someday, and kitchen play sets, which encourages and teaches girls that cooking, and making play food is part of their "role" in society. You won't find the face of a single boy on any of the Easy Bake Ovens.

Arcades filled with video games are also agents of socialization. Tilt, a well known arcade, is filled with different kinds of video games. It is evident by mere observation that the majority of the crowd attracted to this particular entertainment scene would be boys. The arcade is filled with race car, and shooting games, neither of which positively portray female characters, if at all. The vast majority of characters in the games are men. In Mortal Kombat II, the women are dressed in skimpy revealing leotards, and hide behind "harem masks". The portrayal of both male and female characters inevitably has an affect on the expectations of gender roles for both boys and girls. The object of the game is to kill. There are very few instances in which a female is depicted as the active character or hero in any of the games, and when there was, she still portrayed stereotypical female persona. In Super Mario for example, the princess is wearing a pink dress and tiara. The majority of kids playing the games are males. Theory has it that because boys spend so much time participating in such violent games, they are more likely to be aggressive and violent themselves. Video games portray woman as inferior to males. Your typical fairytales consist of a princess in need of rescuing by a knight in shining armor. This is another agent showing that woman are weak, and helpless, while men are strong, brave, and heroic. How many Disney movies portray a female as the heroin? Very few. The games send signals of protection to guys, giving them the idea that women are weak and vulnerable so they need to be strong and powerful to protect them. The men



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