There is a certain foundation that I wish to establish before I attempt to discuss this question. Certain key terms that need to be thoroughly defined for easier understanding of the whole issue of socialization agents or agents of socialization.
Sociolization agents refers primarily to the persons by which and the setting in which the process of socialization is accomplished. Socialization agents are divided into two groups, i.e. (i) Primary groups and (ii) Secondary groups.
Groups basically have six characteristics and these are as follows:
1. It has to have a sense of permanence, meaning it will not cease to exist when its members are apart because the group’s norms, values and beliefs form a part of each individual’s character.
2. It attaches an identity to each member.
3. It formulates mechanisms for recruiting new members either formally (by use of posters or flyers) or informally (through personal interaction)
4. It sets out goals and/or purposes
5. Social status, roles, norms and values are assigned and each member must abide by them.
6. There are usually disciplinary procedures in place as a means of controlling behaviour.
Primary groups consist of members who share personal and long term relationship. According to Charles Cooley (1909), Primary Groups can be characterized as an, ‘Intimate face to face association and cooperation. They are primary in several senses but chiefly in that they are fundament; informing the social nature and ideas of individuals. The result of intimate socialization, psychologically is a certain fusion of individuals in a common whole so that ones very cell for many purposes, at least, is the common life and purpose of the group. Perhaps the simplest way of describing this wholeness is by saying that it is a ‘we.’ It involves the sort of sympathy and mutual identification for which ‘we’ is the natural expression.’
Secondary Groups is characterized as being less intimate. Formal and impersonal relationships usually exist amongst its members, designed around a specific set of goals, resulting in weak emotional ties. The duration period for such groups are short-termed, usually beginning and ending without any special significance.
Secondary groups are often larger than primary groups, partially as a result of their weaker, social ties. Loyalties and emotions are limited as secondary groups are goal oriented. The interaction within the secondary group is dependent on the status and roles of individuals and not by the personality features which is characteristic of those within primary groups.
Now that we have a brief understanding of groups, identifying the major socialization agents of adolescence children in Jamaica should be quite easy. These I have identified as The Family, School/peers, The Community and The Media.
The family is considered to be the most important agent of socialization. Members of a family usually share similar social views and children hold some party of affiliation as parents. The family is the first institution or group that everyone becomes a part of.
Over the years, the values and norms that govern a family seem to have been altered due to the variety of ‘circumstances’ that exist in Jamaica now and these have a much greater impact on our children.
There are those who have lost both parents in one way or another and it can be argued whether these can belong to a family, even in light of the fact that they may go through life without meeting or getting a chance to know a ‘blood’ relative. Most often these children are ill-treated and abused and offered very little help if any. What part does the family play in an orphan’s life? Can those who make it their responsibility to provide the basic needs in life be considered ‘family?’ I believe we already know the answers to those questions, but it’s sad to say that a majority of society’s population does not care and that is exactly what we teach our children, who will in turn teach theirs.
There is also the rising issue of Father playing the role of both mother and father and visa-versa. This is one of the most common cases existing in Jamaica right now. Family was defined at one point in our history as having a ‘head’ which is the father and ‘help meet’ which is mother and this was a much more acceptable definition and I believe that if we had sought to build a family on that ancient foundation, we would have a better society today, eliminating the ‘heart-broken’ sight of seeing so many children on the street begging.
Because of the rise in teenage pregnancies and individuals who just have sex for ‘have sex’ sake – many children are entering in this world unplanned for, unloved and unwanted. They are considered accident by those who just want to have fun without dealing with any repercussions and in most cases there are and that’s why there are so many abortions being performed.
None the less, the family continues to be the most important of all the agents of socialization.
The School/ Peers
Peers are a strong influence in adolescent years. They sometimes have the power to force you into becoming some you can’t be around family and this, of course, is a problem. The family will have a set of values, norms and beliefs that they will pass on to the children, but at school, peers create their own culture that they live by and most times it contradicts with that taught at home.
The level of violence in school has risen to an all time high contributing to the old and experienced fearing the young. Though the school system is designed to pass on social values and give children the opportunity to grow and learn in an environment populated by similar peers, we have to now figure out a way to protect our teachers. In times gone by it was, ‘Spare the rod you spoil the child.’ Now its, ‘Spare the rod, I’ll spare your life.’
Everything is changing. There are certain changes that we have no control over, but when adolescence kill each other…we have to admit that something has gone terrible wrong. You may find a lesser percentage of adolescence that show keen interest in achieving and this will affect the society as those who should be considering retirement will have to work for another 10 years or so.
The school will always be recognized as a valuable institution. Amidst the violence and lack of interest, it still continues to elevate
Communities in Jamaica have matured into a very important socialization agent. I discovered that adolescence children tend to spend a lot of their time on ‘Community corners’ with a mixture of gender and different age group. These are members of the community who congregate after a days work/school to partake in social events, such as domino playing, cards, drinking. Very often the level of communication is high among this specific group.
The community has become so powerful, that if they decide to block or prevent any vehicular traffic from entering the community, nothing can stop them. Through this, adolescent children learn from a very early age, the ‘Marxist’ way of seeking a better society.
A community no longer depends on political leaders or the police to make a difference. They have found their own ways to administer justice and to force the government to grant their request. The community teaches children to respect ‘area dons’ in society, because only they offer any promise of financial security. Adolescent children are also taught to abhor authoritative figures who seek to remove those criminal elements from society.
The media (namely television) has made a significant contribution to the downfall of our society. From Cartoon to News, many are being taught violent-related ways of solving our problems. If a member of a family is killed, whether by accident or otherwise, vengeance (by death) seems to be the only alternative and the security forces are no longer seen as a relative member of the justice system. (All this is a mirrored image of what we watch on television)
We may be forced to believe that violence is something that is provoked and death is only a reaction of overemphasized provocation, but in truth, the violent, one-man vengeance, bad is good – good is bad mentality all derived from a witty writers imaginations that are materialized into television programs and daily fed into the minds and hearts of humans from a very early age.
If two children could be isolated, giving one complete access to violent-related channels, while the other is exposed only to religious programs for the first five years of their lives – the results would be phenomenon.
The media has a strong influence on adolescent children. It has both the power of socialization and re-socialization. It has become an entertaining, competent baby-sitter and a vibrant, incomparable teacher and the character and personality of many is molded around what the media offers.