Four Main Agents of Socialization

How Groups Impact Values, Norms, Beliefs, & Social Position

Four Main Agents of Socialization

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Agents of socialization are the individuals, groups and institutions which form a social context for the process of socialization. The agents of socialization can include any group that impacts one’s values, norms, beliefs, as well as positions in the social structure such as class, race and gender. There are many different agents of socialization. Four main agents of socialization would include: family, education, mass media, and market.

Family is perhaps the most impactful agent of socialization. This agent is extremely important because it is the first group that a person is exposed to which creates a social context for socialization to occur. The family will instill initial values, norms, ideas concerning class and gender. The family will instill an individual with other concepts such as social structure. The impact of the family agent can also be seen in one’s beliefs and in their life chances.

Perhaps the second largest agent of socialization is education. This agent provides knowledge but it also transmits values such as honesty, competition, respect and individualism. Individuals are also exposed to more norms and mores. Education also provides a key understanding with society in so far as structure and authority are concerned. Education also provides a person with their social structure such as what their peer groups will be and where they will fit in with other people.

Mass media is another powerful agent of socialization. This is especially true today because of the advent of internet and digital communications technologies. As a result of these technologies, people are exposed to media more often and more consistently. This exposure impacts socialization in a variety of ways. For instance, because media is constantly being exposed to people it has become a part of life. People have made media a necessary part of perceiving the world. This can be seen in conversations which often use television or movie plots as part of the conversation concept. To say something like “he was an Archie Bunker type of guy” implies that that there is an implicit understanding of media amongst everyone. There is also a large controversy surrounding media as an agent of socialization in so far as it is positive or negative. For example, this controversy can be seen in the argument over whether violent movies inspire violent behavior.

The market is another agent of socialization. As much as people are exposed to mass media they are also exposed to market agents. The market agent is comprised of the many different advertising and marketing forces at work within society. These agents attempt to persuade individuals to purchase products but they also have the impact of altering beliefs and identity. For example, when a car company markets a new car and a large number of consumers purchase it, this agent has somehow convinced the consumer that they need or want this vehicle. The impact of this change could pertain to a number of factors such as vanity, practicality, and even coolness.


Vincent Triola. Wed, Mar 17, 2021. Four Main Agents of Socialization Retrieved from