6 agents of socialisation

  • Created by: holly6901
  • Created on: 27-12-19 10:11


  • The main agent of primary socialisation (0-4)
  • Parents teach basic norms and values and contribute to our identity
  • Learn through imitation of family members and through positive and negative sanctions
  • Feral children did not experience primary socialisation


Functionalists: The female is the expressive leader and is mainly responsible for the nurturing and socialisation of the children.

Marxist: The nuclear family performs ideological functions for capitalism.

Postmodernist: Families are very varied and individuals have much more choice how to live their lives.

Feminist: The family has two key methods to oppress women, socialising girls to accept subservient roles and that boys are superior and socialising women that the 'housewife' role is the only way to be a woman.

1 of 6

Peer group

  • Refers to those of a similar age or similar taste e.g year groups or subcultures
  • Important agent as young people spend a lot of their time with peers
  • Often more important than family as young people want to be liked = strong desire to conform
  • An individual will learn a lot about behaviour through peers because of conformity
  • Studies
  • Judith Harris (1998): Peers can be more influential than parents in shaping children's identities
  • Tony Sewell (2000): Cultural comfort zones



Marxist: One of the main agents of socialisation


Feminist: Hey (1997): The norms of female peer groups are deeply rooted in the patriarchy

2 of 6


  • Some sociologists say the rise of violence in society is due to the images young people are exposed to through the media.
  • However, this hasn't been proved nor disproved
  • The use and influence has grown hugely with the internet, mobile phones, games, TV and magazines
  • Many of us say we aren't influenced by the media but sociologists would disagree
  • The media can create a bulimic society


Functionalist: One of the main functions of media is to create a reality

Marxist: Media is an instrument of the bourgeoise

Postmodernist: Media has replaced reality to such an extent, we live in hyper-reality

Feminist: The media is a way patriarchal views are instilled in young girls

3 of 6


  • Until the mid-20th century, religion was a key agent in the UK
  • Christianity promoted moral guidelines for people to follow
  • The latter part of the 20th century saw a decline in religion
  • This prompted sociologists to say religion is no longer influential.
  • Not all religions are in decline, those of ethnic minorities are rising
  • Religious moral codes still shape laws and attitudes


Functionalist: Religion is based on symbols

Marxist: Religion dulls the pain of exploitation

Postmodernist: Othordox assumptions reflect power differences in society rather than universal truths

Feminist: Religion is a conservative force that maintains the patriarchy

4 of 6


  • Two elements of the curriculum
  • Formal curriculum e.g maths, English, history
  • Hidden curriculum e.g manners, routines, norms
  • Overlaps with the peer group as young people see their peers at school


Functionalists: The education system is seen as a mini-society to prepare young people for the workforce

Marxist: Pupils are unconsciously socialised into values for working in a capitalist system

Postmodernist: Teachers lead students to discover new things

Feminist: The education system transmits patriarchal values

5 of 6


  • Key agent of socialisation for adults
  • The experience of the workplace teaches people skills but also socialises them into the formal rules that underpin organisations
  • There may be a canteen culture in some workplaces that sets out informal rules for getting on with other workers


Functionalist: Emphasises income and employment for any society

Marxist: Highlights the control for the economic elite.


Feminist: The workplace instils patriarchal norms.

6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Culture and Socialisation resources »