The primary purpose of this assignment is to showcase my developing knowledge on sociological topics and more specifically the process of socialization. Let’s begin the assignment by answering the question “Who Am I?”. I often times wonder what it is that makes me who I am. Is it my choice in career? Is it my personality, my interests, or my heritage? Perhaps its my fashion sense? Or, maybe it is a combination of all of these things and more, because defining myself by just a single label doesn’t seem like something I or anyone else is capable of.
Who Am I and Agents of Socialization
I’m not the most positive person in the world, but I like to think I’m likable regardless. I try not to judge anyone for the choices that they make, or the beliefs that they subscribe to. As a unique individual myself, just genuinely attempt to treat everyone with the same respect that I would like to be treated with; however, this in no way means that I am a pushover, in fact I am far from it. If someone believes they can try to take advantage of me, they’ll surely see a side of me they wish they hadn’t brought out. I would like to imagine this “other side” of my personality is a relatable thing for most folks though, so I might just be rather typical in that respect. I am an awkward and reserved individual, especially around strangers and sometimes this causes me to be mislabeled as a standoffish or antisocial individual.
I’m just the type of person to sit back and watch people before I decide whether I’d enjoy being around them or not. I typically love being around small groups of people once I get to know them, I’m just horribly introverted and don’t know how to handle others company sometimes. As one might expect, this often leads me to wishing people more commonly understood the introverted brain, because I think I’ve probably missed out on some friendships. My best friend describes me as funny, loyal, kind, smart, beautiful, and genuine. But it takes some time for people to meet this side of me, and I’ve known this friend since I was five years old. I’ve heard it said, that there are two sides to every coin, and this seems to be an accurate representation of most individuals. I might be outgoing and sociable, but I am also reserved and awkward.
I can be loving, but I can just as easily cut someone down with my sharp tongue. Everything about me happens in contrast and depends on who I am around and how close we are. In conclusion, there are many different things that make me who I am, its not just my character or my personality, but also the way I was raised and the culture I grew up in. I’m not quite sure how it works for others, but I seem to be made up entirely of opposites and contradictions. There are just so many different elements that make up this puzzle that is me; I am macabre, I am intelligent, I am witty. I am honest, and I am equal.
I have a robust passion for the darker things in life, some find it odd, but I believe that it makes me unique. I always strive to gain knowledge on subjects and discover new interests. I work as hard as I can to achieve my goals, whether I enjoy the process or not. I take everything I do seriously, push and fight until the very end. I am empowering. I live life to its fullest, regardless of what others may think I do. I believe in equality for all regardless of sexuality, gender identity, sex, race, etc. I believe in the power of knowledge over that of religion or violence, because without knowledge we are nothing. Let’s delve more into how the social world has influenced me and changed the way I view the world and myself.
Sociological Concepts & Theories
I’d like to focus this next section on the topic of Sociological Imagination, by far the most interesting thing I’ve learned in Sociology. In today’s society, it is entirely too common to see people blaming themselves for all their problems, and I myself and guilty of this. An example would be a newly-wed couple who’s regularly having arguments, so bad that the arguments may lead to their divorce. Such tensions may seem very personal to some, but according to famous sociologist C. Wright Mills, these issues are all related to a much bigger world called society and this I’ve come to learn is known as the sociological imagination. Sociological imagination suggests that people look at their own personal troubles as social issues and, in general try to connect their own individual encounters with the workings of society.
The personal problems are closely related to societal issues such as unemployment, marriage, war and even the city life where the private troubles and the public issues become clearly apparent. With the understanding of the sociological imagination, I began to notice the daily choices I make, the way my parents raised me, the group of people I choose to hang out with, the things I like to converse about with others are all somehow affected by public issues and what society tends to make us believe is right. There are many areas in my life where I feel that I am greatly affected by various sociological theories such as events dealing with gender, sexuality, family, culture, social class and work.
Feminist Theory is the theory that I myself identify with most. For decades, no millennia, women all over the world have been rising up and fighting for the right to be treated the same as men. Sadly, there still exists many differences in how men are treated versus women, and thus I myself have grown into a mighty feminist striving to make the future brighter for females. “Feminist theory is one of the major contemporary sociological theories, which analyzes the status of women and men in society with the purpose of using that knowledge to better women’s lives. Feminist theory is most concerned with giving a voice to women and highlighting the various ways women have contributed to society.” (Crossman, 2018, para 5) Another issue that often times parallels that of race and gender is sexuality and gender identity in our society. This issue of gender and sexuality has had one of the biggest impacts in my life as a bisexual woman, and I’ve found so much acceptance in the feminism community, because like me they understand the struggle of minorities. As a kid I often times played up my femininity to better fit in with my peers and be accepted as a female.
My male friends were given action figures, cars, Legos, and other cool things to play with, while I overplayed my interest in Barbie’s and mini-baking sets to appear more feminine. This is wrong in so many different ways, for so long I suppressed my interest in being tough, for fear of being called less feminine. Through everyday social interactions and social learning, women are all too often taught to understand their roles as females as passive ones. We need to start teaching our kids that its okay for males to play with Barbie’s and girls to play with tanks, because we don’t know how that child will identify, and all genders are equal. If I ever have children of my own I will just raise them as individuals and not press gender stereotypes on them.
Another sociological topic that has caught my interest these past few weeks is that of social deviance, a topic that can easily be defined as activities and behaviors that are not “appropriate” within the known and expected social standards. There are three theories that have been used to define social deviance, these theories are Social Learning Theory; Structural Strain Theory; and Labeling Theory. Each are discussed below.
Social Learning Theory. This theory is best defined as “a theory that attempts to explain socialization and its effect on the development of the self. It looks at the individual learning process, the formation of self, and the influence of society in socializing individuals. Social learning theory is commonly used by sociologists to explain deviance and crime.”(Crossman, 2018, para
Structural Strain Theory. Structural Strain Theory is was developed by Robert K. Merton in the form of a “structural strain theory as an extension of the functionalist perspective on deviance. This theory traces the origins of deviance to the tensions that are caused by the gap between cultural goals and the means people have available to achieve those goals.” (Crossman, 2018, para
Labeling Theory. Labeling theory is known as one of the most important approaches to understanding deviant and/or criminal behavior. “It begins with the assumption that no act is intrinsically criminal. Definitions of criminality are established by those in power through the formulation of laws and the interpretation of those laws by police, courts, and correctional institutions.” (Crossman, 2018, para
In general, people consider deviant behavior to be a negative action or one that simply breaks the law. However, when it comes to sociology, deviant behavior is referred more so as an ‘unexpected’ or a ‘different’ way of behaving, one that more simply departs from the social norms of a particular society or culture. Crimes aren’t always considered deviant, an easy example is speeding in a vehicle, which might be considered as deviant to some but to others its viewed as normal. The approval of a specific type of behavior completely depends on the societal culture. To consider behavior deviant, it is necessary to take into account the specific culture at hands norms. Some of the behaviors that society does not approve of are crime related, which are not necessarily deviant, but do not conform to the norms of society.
Some of the deviant behaviors are manipulative in nature, others elicit mistrust between the people that interact and others are devious, but not criminal. The United States’ society, its sadly entirely too popular for folks to consider behavior like suicide, abortion, cross-dressing as deviant. But these behaviors are only considered deviant because they do not conform to the expectation of the traditional American society. When society considers the behavior of an individual as deviant, the consideration traps the person through some condemnations or labels the society attaches to them, which in many cases can be inhumanely wrong.
I genuinely believe that if I had not gained knowledge of these sociological theories, I wouldn’t have been able to understand how society has related so much to my development through the years. For the longest time I’ve always thought that my personal problems were strictly affected by my own personal issues and not sociological ones. So many sociological theories have blended into personal problems I’ve had throughout my entire life such as gender, sexuality, family, culture, and ethnicity. Once I started learning about these sociological concepts, I was able to relate them more to my life and started to question how society can be changed. Society can most certainly change if we all become aware of each of our own sociological imaginations, and I think its time we started doing this.