Agents of Informal Control
The primary agents of informal control that were most influential to me as I grew up are my family, peers, school, religion and the mass media. Chriss (20070 states that these basic agents of socialization influence an individual toward norm-conforming and away from abnormal conduct (Chriss, 2007). I leaned the rules and cultural traditions of my society through the day to day interaction with the various groups and the members thereof. Through these agents, my character has always been shaped towards non-conforming and away from deviant behavior.
My family was my influential core agency of informal control. Through my mother, father, and other members of the extended family, I was prescribed rules and regulations that I had to follow. It is through this kind of environment I was socialized into the norms, values, traditions, and customs of our family and the immediate community at large. Thus, my family influenced my personality as a child and exercised control over me to bring about the desired action.
As I grew up, my friends significantly influenced a lot of things my life. I relied on them for several things such as fun, emotional comfort and support, and companionship. Through this kind of interaction, my taste for music, fun activities, clothes I wear and so many aspects of my life was influenced.
The school was another very influential agent of informal control because not only did I learn a formal curriculum, but also met a majority of my peers. Through the learning process, I gained skills that could make me productive in society. Daily interaction with peers strengthened my social interaction skills. Other than my parents being the figures of authority, my teachers also assumed this role hence becoming an essential component in shaping my character.
Human history has religion recorded as one of the active means of conformity to a system of beliefs incorporated in its teachings. Through ritual, principles of my religious belief system were thought to me thus influencing what I accept. The influence of religion was so much in that it made identify myself with a group of believers and a church.
The last most influential agent of informal control as I grew up was the mass media. With advancement in technology, the modern society has had various media through which information and entertainment are rapidly accessed. My exposure to the mass media including television shows, movies, music, internet and websites, video games, among many others influenced my views on subjects such as politics, culture, women, races, and many other beliefs and practices.
At some point in life, I did ask myself and others some common questions asked by people in various circumstances. Some of these issues are like who makes the rules? Why should I listen to you? Why should I listen to so and so? Some of these questions could just come up in an attempt to seek clarification on a particular issue, or just out of either deviance or non-conformity to the set rules and regulations.
There was someone ready to answer the questions in as much at moments I wanted answers, and at other times they were just rhetorical. People from both the primary and secondary social groups answered the questions. These individuals could be my parents, peers, schoolmates and classmates, my teachers or other seniors depending on the context where the questions were posed. For example, my father could readily answer the question “Who make the rules?” if I asked it at home.
Ready answers, especially from the elders, I could receive to such questions. My elderly family members made up of my parents, uncles, and aunts, grandparents and elder siblings gave answers like, “the elders do make the rules.” They said that they are the ones who have experience and at least have the knowledge of what is right and wrong, or what is best for everybody. Questions like “why should I listen to you?” were given responses such as “because I am giving you direction for your own good” from my teachers if asked in school.
Change in Influence of Agents of Socialization
There have been no much changes in the influence of agents of socialization over time. From the beginning of the human history, socialization has been a tool people use to perform functions efficiently in their social worlds (Little, 2012). Through social groups, families, religion, peers, work and learning institutions, we are influenced to assimilate how to use material culture in our society and embrace nonmaterial culture beliefs and values.
The mass media is one of the agents of socialization whose influence has drastically grown over the years. Uzniene (2010) states that media influences personal interrelations, communication, and an individual’s perspective of oneself and the whole world (Uzniene, 2010). In time past, the role of the media was to educate, entertain and to inform. Through these basic objectives, people in different cultures and spheres of life were influenced and channeled to certain norms and beliefs. However, the content in media has become stronger and stronger impacting in most cases negative influence especially to young children (Lila, 2014).
Saldana (2013) states about the power and conformity in schools today. Schools and learning institutions at large becomes one of the primary agents of socialization because they purposely transmit a society’s culture to children (Saldana, 2013). The education systems and schooling, in particular, has experienced tremendous changes over time. Modernization and technology have improved learning processes and the way people interact in institutions. Schools, as agents of socialization, have remained to be the most stable, most influential and the most reliable agent in teaching and reinforcing conformity (Saldana, 2013).
A new agent of socialization arising from the mass media is the use of social networks. Nowadays, the primary users of social networks and the internet are children (Ibanez-Cubillas, Diaz-Martin, & Perez-Torregrosa, 2017). New communicational scenarios such as video games and virtual worlds have caught the attention of children and adolescents and in most cases has influenced the way they contact, interact and communicate with people around them. Though being a right and advanced way of making life more comfortable, the influence and risks of social networks are on the increase, and this generates concern.
Whereas the influence of some agents of socialization has grown stronger over time, for others it has declined. For example, religion has lost its much impact on society as it restructures itself. Prediction by sociologists shows a decline in religion in the past century (Cornwall, 1988) However, it has not lost its importance in a modern society which constitutes many religious perspectives from which people can choose. The influence of religion is pervasive on all other agents of socialization and thereby moderates their activities (Ekon, 2012).
Impact of Agents of Informal Control in My Later Life
Informal control and socialization are lifelong learning processes experienced through the development stages of human beings. All the agents of socialization, both in primary groups and secondary groups, influenced my behavior, character, and actions I take in one way or another. This impact created in my childhood somewhat as I was growing up has become an essential aspect of my later life.
To be in specific, my family played a key role in my emotional and physical well-being during the first few years of my early life. It is during this time that I learn my current values, views, and norms of life from the environment my family members created. My father and mother conveyed to me their political and social views about life which I still uphold. Through the input of my family and other agents of socialization such as school, I learned, among different norms, acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
Influence through family, school, peers, religion and the mass media became an essential factor in influencing my current behavior. Through socialization, I have been able to learn languages, beliefs, customs, values, and norms of my society where I live. The impact and influence created have made me be able to find my place in society. Through the changes that took in my early life, I have a sound perception of myself and others. I have quickly readjusted in my later life to accommodate co-workers, colleagues and members of other groups which I belong to such as school and church as they replace some of my peers. The influence imparted by the agents of social control in my early life prepared me to take my place in society.
Chriss, J. J. (2007). Social Control: An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=btZuF51uuHYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=Chriss+Informal+control&ots=aTDhNuf7dB&sig=rcHyw8nuv3iB2umB4dnof9CTxeU&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Chriss%20Informal%20control&f=false
Cornwall, M. (1988). The Religion and Family: Social Science Perspectives. (D. L. Thomas, Ed.) Brigham Young University. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/religion-and-family-connection-social-science-perspectives/chapter-11-influence-three
Ekon, E. E. (2012). Religion as Instrument of Socialization and Social Control. European Scientific Journal, 8(26), 136-142. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://eujournal.org/index.php/esj/article/viewFile/574/643
Ibanez-Cubillas, P., Diaz-Martin, C., & Perez-Torregrosa, A. B. (2017, March 13). Social networks and childhood. New agents of socialization. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 237(2017), 64-69. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314781847_Social_Networks_and_Childhood_New_Agents_of_Socialization
Lila, B. (2014). The impact of Media in the Socialization Process in Albania. European Journal of Social Sciences Education and Research, 1(1), 149-156. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from http://journals.euser.org/files/articles/ejser_may_aug_14/BukurieL.pdf
Little, W. (2012). Introduction to Sociology – 1st Canadian Edition. OpenStax College,. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://opentextbc.ca/introductiontosociology/chapter/chapter5-socialization/
Saldana, J. (2013). Power and Conformity in Today’s Schools. International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(1), 228-232. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from http://www.ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_3_No_1_January_2013/27.pdf
Uzniene, R. (2010). Mdia – agents of Socialization. Regional Information and Development Studies, 8(3), 231-239. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from http://journals.ku.lt/index.php/RFDS/article/viewFile/583/pdf