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Social Experience Social experience is a lifelong social experience by which people develop their human potential and learn culture. The interaction of humans has been studied through the ages by thinkers of all types Darwin, Watson, Freud, Meade and Paigets. They all came up with a different view of how we develop socially. How important are the roles of family, school, peer groups and the media on our personality development or is it all preordained and instinctual. There are two different theories of what happens in the beginning.

Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud believed that human behaviors were biologically based, that we have instinct for human competitiveness, sexual and emotional bonding, and aggressive behavior. The other school of thought as studied and proven by John B. Watson, Jean Paigets, and George Herbert Meade was that behaviorism or instincts are learned. Home is where the heart is and the beginning of the most important part of our skill set in interacting with others and molding our personalities? Family is where we look for nurturing in the early childhood stages.

Ideally family would be the foundation where the child would be given a safe and caring environment, teaching them skills, values and beliefs. In situations that lack this there are various levels of dysfunction that appear. This was proven by Harry and Margaret Harlow in the study of social isolation of young children. Total isolation of the child for six months or less will cause them to become passive, anxious, and fearful when introduced to groups of people, anything longer than that and the child will never fully regain the ability to function in society.

Young children learn from their environment and are in the sensorimotor stage as Jena Paigets proclaims in the theory of cognitive development. They experience the world only through their senses in the ages of 0-2 years. Preoperational stages follows after that from 2-6 years using symbol, language and the beginnings of imagination and mental thought. The progression of learning in the family teaches us about our race and class in society. People born into a lower class family are not only affected financially but expectations can be lower.

Families in struggling environments push conformity to help the family get by but these stresses of social inequality can make disobedience more prevalent. Families of higher standings or wealth can focus on good judgment, creativity and looking to the future. Schools become the second agent of socialization. It enlarges the social world of the child. Gender roles start to emerge. Boys tend to engage in more physical activities outdoors and behaviors inside the classroom can become more aggressive. Girls on the other hand typically do chores like help the teacher. They are quieter and better behaved.

This brings into play the concrete operational stage of cognitive theory when children become aware of their surroundings. They focus on the how and why of things. Schools also teach an education curriculum some of which is apparent but there is also a hidden curriculum, such as spelling bees teaching children there are winners and losers, sports teaching skills of cooperation and competition. School is the first exposure to how the bureaucratic world works with the impersonal rules and strict schedules. This gives them the skill set to cope with the large organizations that may employ them.

The third agent is the peer group; a social group whose members have interests, social position and age in common. George Herbert Meade has a theory of the social self. The Self or personality is composed of self awareness and self image; it develops only with social experience. It requires imagining the situation from the others point of view. The peer group can facilitate the knowledge of forming relationships outside of the family. It gives individuals a chance to discuss things of interest that might not be interesting to a parent or a partner.

It produces social ties that lead to loyalty and pride in their peer groups which can lead to putting other groups down. We strive for anticipatory socialization which is the learning that takes place to help a person achieve a desired position, like Eagle Scout in Boys Scouts. The power of peer groups can be positive or negative to an adolescent. Challenges of gaining their identities in the absence of the family can leave the peer group as their only source for information. Teenagers are growing up faster every day because of divorce and both parents working.

They become self sufficient sooner out of necessity rather than choice. The mass media it’s everywhere 24/7 and it is teaching our children. Is that bad? Socialization through the media is with us for good. There is one set for every person today. We spend half our free time watching it. Critics on both sides of the political arena have reservations about it. The liberals feel television plays a part in promoting racial and ethnic stereotypes. The conservatives think television is dominated by the liberal elites and their message. The true concern for socialization is the amount of violence on the airways.

Can it be healthy for a young child to watch people killed or better yet play a video game and be the one doing the killing? Media should never become the babysitter, parent and friend. The mind will become an unimaginative place if we stare to long at someone else’s imagination. It is already taking a toll on the health of our children with obesity rates getting higher every day. I can remember playing outside on the neighborhood streets till dusk. Riding bikes and walking to the local grocery store. Television is a good form of entertainment I fear based on the material in the book.

It is becoming an obsession. The most important part of socialization will always be the family. This is where you should be able to go to feel safe. This is where you start and can continue to have a foundation to life. In the reading of the many theorists there is development along the way but none of it as important as the things you learn in the beginning. Family is your tribe, your survival group. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a blood relative but the socialization needs to begin somewhere with someone for us to become a responsible member of society.



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