MCAT Content / Socialization / Agents Of Socialization

Agents of Socialization

Topic: Socialization

Socialization is the process by which the new generation learns the knowledge, attitudes and values that they will need as productive citizens. The agents of socialization are comprised of the groups and people who influence personal attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours.

Agents of socialization include people such as family, friends, and neighbours, social institutions such as religion and school, consumption of mass media, and environments that involve interactions with other people such as sports teams and the workplace.

A family serves to reproduce society biologically, through procreation, and socially, through the socialization of children. The primary function of the family is to reproduce society, both biologically through procreation and socially through socialization. Given these functions, the individual’s experience of his or her family shifts over time. From the perspective of children, the family is a family of orientation: the family functions to locate children socially, and plays a major role in their socialization. For the parent(s), the family is a family of procreation: The family functions to produce and socialize children.

A neighbourhood is a geographically localized community within a larger city, town, or suburb. Neighbourhoods are often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members. Neighbourhoods are typically generated by social interaction among people living near one another. In this sense, they are local social units larger than households, but not directly under the control of city or state officials. These interactions and social units act to socialize those in this environment. On another level, a community is a group of interacting people, living in some proximity. Community usually refers to a social unit that shares common values and has social cohesion. The sense of community and formation of social networks comprise what has become known as social capital.

Education is the process by which society transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, customs and values from one generation to another. Education is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people are transmitted from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. In its narrow, technical sense, education is the formal process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, customs and values from one generation to another. The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is most concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, adult, and continuing education.

A peer group, whose members have interests, social positions, and age in common, influence the socialization of group members. A peer group is a social group whose members have interests, social positions, and age in common. This is where children can escape supervision and learn to form relationships on their own. The influence of the peer group typically peaks during adolescence. However, peer groups generally only affect short term interests, unlike the family, which has long term influence. The term ” peer pressure ” is often used to describe instances where an individual feels indirectly pressured into changing their behaviour to match that of their peers.

Peer groups have a significant influence on psychological and social adjustments for group individuals. They provide perspective outside of the individual’s viewpoints. Members inside peer groups also learn to develop relationships with others in the social system. Peers, particularly group members, become important social referents for teaching members’ customs, social norms, and different ideologies.

Since mass media has enormous effects on our attitudes and behaviour, it contributes to the socialization process. Mass media is the means for delivering impersonal communications directed to a vast audience.  Since mass media has enormous effects on our attitudes and behaviour, notably in regards to aggression, it contributes to the socialization process.

The workplace performs its socialization process through onboarding, through which employees acquire skills to adjust to their new role. The workplace performs its socialization function through onboarding. This is the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to become effective organizational members. Tactics used in this process include formal meetings, lectures, videos, printed materials, or computer-based orientations. Research has demonstrated that these socialization techniques lead to positive outcomes for new employees, including higher job satisfaction, better job performance, greater organizational commitment, and reduction in stress. These outcomes are particularly important to an organization looking to retain a competitive advantage in an increasingly mobile and globalized workforce.

Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and moral values. Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions, and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. Sociology of religion is the study of the beliefs, practices, and organizational forms of religion using the tools and methods of the discipline of sociology. Religion as an agent of socialization differs in its effects across religious traditions. Some believe religion is like an ethnic or cultural category, making it less likely for the individuals to break from religious affiliations and be more socialized in this setting.


Practice Questions


Khan Academy

MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Practice Exam 4 P/S Section Passage 4 Question 20


Key Points

• Socialization is the process by which the new generation learns the knowledge, attitudes and values that they will need as productive citizens.

• The family acts as an agent of socialization by providing children with a position in society and socialize them.

• Neighbourhoods and communities act as agents of socialization by providing space and opportunity for social interaction and to build social capital.

• Educational institutions act as an agent of socialization by providing educational opportunities and job opportunities to younger generations.

• Peer groups provide an opportunity where children can escape supervision and learn to form relationships on their own

• The term ” peer pressure ” is often used to describe instances where an individual feels indirectly pressured into changing their behaviour to match that of their peers.

• Mass media is the means for delivering impersonal communications directed to a vast audience and can act as an agent of socialization by connecting people.

• The workplace can function as an agent of socialization when employees are socialized using the onboarding process include formal meetings, lectures, videos, printed materials and computer-based orientations.

• Religion can act as an agent of socialization through indoctrination of younger generations into a set of beliefs or a code to live by.

• Agents of socialization differ in effects across religious traditions. Some believe religion is like an ethnic or cultural category, making it less likely for the individuals to break from religious affiliations and be more socialized in this setting.


Key Terms

community: a group sharing a common understanding and often the same language, manners, tradition and law. See civilization.

socialization: the process of learning one’s culture and how to live within it.

the sociology of education: the sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes.

peer pressure: peer pressure is the influence exerted by a peer group, encouraging individuals to change their attitudes, values, or behaviours to conform to group norms

peer group: a peer group is a social group whose members have interests, social positions, and age in common.

mass media: collectively, the communications media, especially television, radio, and newspapers, that reach the mass of the people.

onboarding: the process of bringing a new employee on board, incorporating training and orientation.

parental religiosity: the biggest predictor of adult religiosity is parental religiosity; if a person’s parents were religious when he was a child, he is likely to be religious when he grows up.

agents of socialization: agents of socialization, or institutions that can impress social norms upon an individual, include the family, religion, peer groups, economic systems, legal systems, penal systems, language, and the media.

sociology of religion: sociology of religion is the study of the beliefs, practices, and organizational forms of religion using the tools and methods of the discipline of sociology.

religion: an organized collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values.



Billing Information
We had trouble validating your card. It's possible your card provider is preventing us from charging the card. Please contact your card provider or customer support.
{{ cardForm.errors.get('number') }}
{{ registerForm.errors.get('zip') }}
{{ registerForm.errors.get('coupon') }}
Tax: {{ taxAmount(selectedPlan) | currency spark.currencySymbol }}

Total Price Including Tax: {{ priceWithTax(selectedPlan) | currency spark.currencySymbol }} / {{ selectedPlan.interval | capitalize }}