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Family as an Agent of Socialization

Okeke Chiamaka holds a in Sociology and Anthropology from Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Agbani.

Photo credit: John Mark Smith from Unsplash


Family as an important agent of socialization.

The word ‘family' is such a broad term when considering various family groups that exist worldwide. Although, the Western world sees family as made up of husband, wife, and children. Other social groups do have a husband and more than one wife (polygamy) while others have women getting married to more than one husband(polyandry).
This broad term also incorporates the Banaro of New Guinea in which a woman gives birth before getting married and must be married to someone else other than the father of her child (Murdock 1949). Among the Trobriand Islanders, it is the wife’s eldest brother that disciplines her children and also is responsible for the provision of food (Malinowski 1927).
For this reason, and due to the broad nature of the concept of family, we then give it a broad definition. Therefore, the family consists of people who consider themselves related by blood, marriage, or adoption (James M. Henslin, 2010). This means that every human comes from a family unit. Family is also said to be the smallest unit of society.
The family is responsible for orienting new members of society. It is also tasked with the responsibility to procreate, provide food, discipline and also give informal education to the child. For this reason, the family is an agent of socialization.

According to James M. Henslin 2010, he defined Socialization is the process by which people learn the characteristics of their group; the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, norms, and actions thought appropriate for them. And since the family has a major impact and role to play in our lives, it is considered to be an agent of socialization.
It is in the family that expected social roles attributed to males and females are outlined. The family imbibes its members with a sense of self and ideas of being weak or strong, bold or weak, smart or dumb.
It is worthy to note that socialization is not a massive dye that dyes with the same norms and values expected by society.
For example, Handel, 2006, claims that studies show that in both the USA and Italy the working-class families socialize their children to be more obedient than the middle class, who expect their children to show more initiative.
Pearl in and Kohn 1966; Kohn and Schooler 1969 also corroborated Handel's claim that the parents’ type of job also influences how a child is socialized.

James M. Henslin. “Sociology: A-down-to-Earth Approach.” Pearson Publishers, 2010.
Haralambos and Holborn. “Sociology: themes and perspectives.”

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Okeke Chiamaka

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