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Socialization:  Peer Groups and Media

Socialization: Peer Groups and Media

Author: Paul Hannan

Identify the role of peer groups and the media in the socialization process, including the concept of anticipatory socialization.

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Socialization: Peer Groups and Media

Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain

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[THEME MUSIC] Welcome this episode of Sociology Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on socialization, peer groups, and the meanings. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind, or even fast forward to make sure you get the most out of this tutorial.

So today, we're looking at two different agents in socialization peer groups and the media. So first off, what is a peer group? Well, a peer group is really a group of people who are grouped together based on similar interests, ages, and social status. So they're a group of people that have these similarities, and it's really away from adult supervision. Sometimes you can think of the term, like a "clique." You don't have to be in a clique to be a peer group, but that's one way to think about what a peer group is.

Now one thing about a peer group as an agent of socialization, generally, people would argue that it has considerably less influence than parents, but still has a really important influence on how people get socialize in society. And one term I want to throw out there for you is this idea of a generational gap. One of the reasons why peer groups have so much power is because of this generational gap. So a generational gap is where the parents grew up and society was different when they were children, so they don't always understand the ways that society is different now, and that's the gap between those two generations.

Let me give you an example of the way that a peer group-- look at maybe a subset of the way peer groups work for socialization. So we have an individual, he would like to join this group of blue people here, this circle of people. And he goes over to join them, and he doesn't fit in. So then he changes the way he dresses, and acts, and what he believes in, and now he goes and he's able to join that group. So what is that exactly.

Well, that's anticipatory socialization. So that's changing how one acts to match a group that a person would like to join. Now you don't actually have successfully join a group for anticipatory socialization to happen, but that's one way that peer groups can affect socialization.

Now another major agent of solicitation is the mass media. Now mass media is a really broad term, and you probably, in your head right away, have pictured correctly what it is. And it's really just about different ways that we can communicate on a scale. So you think about TV, radio, internet, newspapers, there's tons of different ways that this large-scale communication happens. Now as an agent of solicitation, the effects are really hard to quantify because it's such a broad-reaching area, but it is a really interesting way that-- it is a really interesting agent of socialization that sociologists like to look at.

Specifically, I mean, there are many concerns over mass media. So how much time do we spend in front of screens consuming television? What is the level of violence? What is the way sex is treated? What is the way tobacco is treated? How are corporates portrayed? How is their influence on what they want us to buy coming through mass media? These are all things that sociologists are really interested in looking at and how mass media can change the way we're socialized.

So today's takeaway message-- a peer group is just a group based on similar interests, ages, and understandings. We also learned about anticipatory socialization, which is changing how one acts to match a group a person would like to join. And then last, we looked at the age of socialization, the mass media. And the mass media are just a way of communicating with a large audience. Well, that's it for this lesson. Good work. And hopefully, you'll be seeing me again your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know
Anticipatory Socialization

Learning the social behaviors of a group to which you desire to belong; e.g. sororities and frats, coworkers and bosses, and the football team and cheerleaders.

Mass Media

Any outlet of social and cultural information that reaches a mass audience impersonally; e.g. television, internet, magazines, radio, movies, and newspapers.

Peer Group

A group of individuals who share common traits such as interests, age, and class position.