9 Examples of Agents of Socialization (2023) (2023)

9 Examples of Agents of Socialization (2023) (1)

Examples of agents of socialization include the school, church, family, mass media, daycare, workplace, and sporting clubs.

An agent of socialization is anything that is influential in teaching social norms and rules to children (or adults). For example, school is an agent of socialization because it’s a place where we learn how to interact with others in socially appropriate ways.

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What is Socialization?

Socialization refers to the ways society ‘teaches’ us how to behave. Through socialization, we learn norms of behavior and develop our own personal identities.

Because our identities are developed through interaction with society, sociologists say that our identities are ‘socially constructed’.

Socialization can be of several types:

  • Primary socialization Primary socialization occurs during the formative years of an individual’s life and is related to the construction of the most elemental aspects of an individual’s personhood.
  • Secondary socialization Secondary socialization occurs later on in life, and is affected by agents that are usually outside of the family, but still exert a considerable influence on their lives. Examples include the workplace, clubs, and fraternities.
  • Developmental socialization – While most kinds of socialization are subtle, unconscious processes, developmental socialization is undertaken deliberately for the purpose of developing or enhancing certain skills. For instance, socialization undertaken to improve public speaking skills, or personality development programmes are developmental socialization.
  • Anticipatory socialization Anticipatory socialization is undertaken in the hope of acquiring the skills needed to be a part of a social group in the future. For instance, being a part of boy/girl scouts as preparation for a career in the armed forces later on in life. Unlike developmental socialization, anticipatory socialization may or may not be deliberate or premeditated.
  • Resocialization Resocialization is the process of shedding previously acquired social behavior and learning newer norms and behaviors. For most individuals, resocialization is a continuing, lifelong process. For instance, migrating to a new country or retiring from a career in the army and returning to civilian life all require varying degrees of resocialization.

The concept of socialization draws upon the theory of social behaviorism by George Herbert Mead (1863-1931). Mead proposed that the individual self is socially constructed through a process of social interaction with those around us.

The entity which interacts with and influences an individual in the process of socialization is called an agent of socialization.

Examples of Agents of Socialization

1. The Family

The American sociologist Talcott Parsons believed that the family is the single most important agent of socialization, playing a crucial role in the formation of an individual’s personality (Parsons & Bales, 1956).

It is from the family that a child acquires the most elemental knowledge of society and its institutions, and a familiarity with the norms and behaviors expected in such institutions (Freeman & Showel, 1951).

(Video) Socialization: Crash Course Sociology #14

The role of the family as a socializing agent overlaps with psychological theories of cognitive and personality development such as the work of Jean Piaget (1896-1980) on early childhood development and that of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) on parental influence on child personality.

For example, it’s often in the family where a child first learns gender socialization, with gender roles in the domestic sphere modelled for the child from a young age.

2. The School

The school acts as an agent of socialization in 4 ways.

  • First, by imparting curriculum-based education.
  • Second, by teaching children moral values, the importance of obeying rules and regulations, and the consequences of transgressing them (often referred to as the hidden curriculum).
  • Third, by acting as a site that enables social interaction between an individual and their peers, seniors, juniors, and teachers.
  • Fourth, by allowing an individual to acquire an understanding of their position in the wider social and economic hierarchy.

3. Media

Mass media is an agent of both primary and secondary socialization, exerting a powerful influence on both children and adults alike.

Mass media includes both traditional media such as television, cinema, newspaper, radio as well as newer, internet-based forms of media such as social networking platforms.

Numerous studies have reported that children are now increasingly spending more time online, thereby increasing their exposure to mass media. (Fairclough, 2021) Thus internet-based social interaction is increasingly becoming an important agent of socialization.

Mass media acts as an agent of socialization in 2 ways:

  • By acting as a source of ideas, news, and information that shape an individual’s sense of the self.
  • By providing a platform for individuals to create and ‘perform’ newer selves through social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Related: 21 Mass Communication Theories

4. Religion

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) believed that religion is an essential part of all societies because of a fundamental human concern with what happens after death.

As a result, religion exercises extraordinary control in shaping the collective beliefs of a society (Durkheim, 2001).

Religion also influences the manner in which an individual engages with other institutions of society such as the economy, the nation-state, and the family (Jelen & Wilcox, 1998).

Max Weber (1864-1920), in his classic work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,demonstrated how religion shapes the collective thought of a society, and thus influences other social institutions such as the economy (Weber, 2010).

Similarly, religious nationalism is a phenomenon which arises out of the interaction of religious belief with an individual’s sense of ethnic and national identity.

(Video) what is socialisation? it's meaning, definitions, and agencies or agents of socialisation? #ballb

In this case, the individual is socialized into constructing a sense of the self which is inextricably linked with their religious identity, and thus results in a desire to create a social order in which religion is the basis of the nation-state.

For more on Durkheim, read our overview of his concept of social facts.

5. The Workplace

The workplace can be a site for several kinds of socialization.

When we absorb the work culture, norms, and rules of a workplace over time, it is considered secondary socialization.

On occasions when an employee is required to upskill or reskill to advance to a different role within the organization, it becomes a case of developmental socialization.

When we switch to a different job that has very little in common with the previous job, it is a case of resocialization.

6. The State

The state acts as an agent of socialization in several ways.

  • By controlling the creation of identity documents such as passports and citizenship certificates which, in most nation-states, are the fundamental proof of an individual’s existence. The state, thus, in a way, creates the subject’s self.
  • By controlling education and thus ensuring that the self, once brought into existence by the state, is socialized into becoming a certain kind of citizen that is desired by the state.
  • By encouraging nationalism through both education and propaganda, to ensure that loyalty to the nation state becomes an inextricable part of an individual’s idea of the self.

Thus, an individual is socialized into acquiring an idea of the self that is centered on the nation-state they are born into and raised in.

When people emigrate to other countries, they have to resocialize themselves by giving up this old self, and acquiring the norms, behaviors, customs, etc. of the new country.

7. Youth Organizations

Youth organizations are sites for socializing youth, especially students, into specific political and social roles.

For instance, Model United Nations (MUN) is a popular educational simulation in which students attempt to solve global issues through diplomacy and negotiation. It socializes students into acquiring an understanding of the system of nation-states as a globalized, interconnected space, and often acts as a stepping stone for youth looking for a career in international relations or diplomacy.

Similarly Young Men’s Christian Association( (YMCA), Boy and Girl Scouts, etc. are also well-known youth organizations that socialize their members into particular ideologies and ways of life.

8. Military High Schools

Military high schools are schools offering elementary, junior, and secondary level education with an added emphasis on military training curriculum.

(Video) Soc 101 Lecture 5.2: Agents of Socialization

They are different from military academies that prepare selected candidates to be commissioned into the armed forces. Alumni of a military high school may or may not join the armed forces after graduating.

They are, however, socialized into a military culture during their formative years that often stays with them for life.. Students at such schools typically live in military style barracks, with prominent buildings and landmarks in the school campus being named after military heroes or famous battles.

This is a form of anticipatory socialization.

Prominent examples of military high schools include the Duke of York’s Royal Military School in the UK, Carson Long Military Academy in the United States, the Robert Land Academy in Canada, and the network of Sainik Schools in India.

In Australia, the Australian Army Cadets (AAC) is an organizational program that similarly socializes school students across various schools into acquiring an interest in joining the armed forces.

9. Sporting Clubs

When a young person joins a sporting club, they are socialized into both formal rules of sports and sporting culture.

Many parents believe sports to be great for their children because they learn soft skills like teamwork, following rules, accepting the adjudication of a referee, and taking on leadership roles.

However, there are often ‘toxic’ sports cultures that can also socialize young men into ‘locker room’ behavior that involves anti-social gender-based attitudes. Thus, this can be both a positive and negative source of socialization.


According to sociology and psychology, individual selves are socially constructed through interaction with agents of socialization. Such agents of socialization are numerous, and encountered in all walks of life. Socialization is thus an elementary and continuing process that remains at work as long as we remain a part of society.


Durkheim, E. (2001). The elementary forms of religious life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fairclough, S.J. (2021). Adolescents’ digital screen time as a concern for health and well-being? Device type and context matter, Acta Paediatrica (110), 1985-86. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.15843

Freeman, H.E., & Showel, M. (1951). The role of the family in the socialization process. The Journal of Social Psychology. 37(1), 97-101. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1953.9921873

Parsons, T.,& Bales, R.F. (1956). Family, socialization and interaction process. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

(Video) Unit 9 : Agents of Socialisation -IGNOU Sociology Series- ESO-11 BA | MA | UPSC | GATE | NTA-NET JRF

Weber, M. (2010). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chris Drew (PhD)

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.


What are the 9 agents of socialization? ›

agents of socialization: agents of socialization, or institutions that can impress social norms upon an individual, include the family, religion, peer groups, economic systems, legal systems, penal systems, language, and the media.

What are the agents of socialization with examples? ›

Socialization agents are a combination of social groups and social institutions that provide the first experiences of socialization. Families, early education, peer groups, the workplace, religion, government, and media all communicate expectations and reinf orce norms.

What are examples of socialization? ›

Interacting with friends and family, being told to obey rules, being rewarded for doing chores, and being taught how to behave in public places are all examples of socialization that enable a person to function within his or her culture.

Which of the following is the best example of an agent of socialization? ›

Family socialization is the most important agent of socialization; however, peer group is an important agent of socialization as well.

What is Class 9 socialization? ›

Answer: The process of learning social behavior and the process of becoming a social being is called socialization. The human being and his social dependency are seen in this process. Socialization is a continuous process of social action, which starts from birth.

What are the 8 types of socialization? ›

  • Primary socialization.
  • Secondary socialization.
  • Anticipatory socialization.
  • Resocialization.
  • Organizational socialization.
  • Group socialization.
  • Gender socialization.
  • Racial socialization.

What is not an example of agents of socialization? ›

The correct answer is Shopping.

What are agents of socialization quizlet? ›

Agents of Socialization. Social experiences that contribute to socialization; family, school, mass media, peer groups.

Which agent of socialization is most important? ›

Family is the first and most important agent of socialization. Mothers and fathers, siblings and grandparents, plus members of an extended family, all teach a child what he or she needs to know.

What are the 5 main agents of socialization? ›

An individual usually learns these aspects of culture and society social groups called agents of socialization. There are five main agents of socialization: family, education, peer groups, religious organization and mass media.

What are the 6 types of socialization? ›

B. Types of Socialization
  • Primary socialization. This type of socialization happens when a child learns the values, norms and behaviors that should be displayed in order to live accordingly to a specific culture. ...
  • Secondary socialization. ...
  • Developmental socialization. ...
  • Anticipatory socialization. ...
  • Resocialization.

What are the 4 types of socialization? ›

What are the different types of socialization?
  • Primary socialization,
  • Anticipatory socialization,
  • Developmental socialization and.
  • Re-socialization.
3 days ago

What are the 7 agents of political socialization? ›

Agents of socialization

Such institutions include, but are not limited to: families, media, peers, schools, religions, work and legal systems.

What are the five agents of socialization quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (5)
  • Agents of Socialization. the specific individuals, groups, and institutions that enable socialization to take place.
  • Family. The most important agent of socialization. ...
  • Peer Group. a primary group composed of individuals of roughly equal age and similar social characteristics. ...
  • School. ...
  • Mass Media.

What are the 4 main agents of socialization quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (4)
  • Family. 1st agent, most important, primary group.
  • Peer group. People your age, not structured.
  • School. Structured, empathize on skills you will need in life.
  • Mass media. Forms of communication reach large audiences.

Why is socialization important 7? ›

Structural functionalists would say that socialization is essential to society, both because it trains members to operate successfully within it and because it perpetuates culture by transmitting it to new generations. Without socialization, a society's culture would perish as members died off.

What is socialization class 10? ›

Socialisation is known as the process of inducting the individual into the social world. The term socialisation refers to the process of interaction through which the growing individual learns the habits, attitudes, values and beliefs of the social group into which he has been born.

What is socialization answer? ›

socialization, the process whereby an individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society).

What are the 3 role of socialization? ›

Socialization has three primary goals: teaching impulse control and developing a conscience, preparing people to perform certain social roles, and cultivating shared sources of meaning and value. Socialization is culturally specific, but this does not mean certain cultures are better or worse than others.

What are the 3 process of socialization? ›

The Socialization Process in Three Parts. Socialization involves both social structure and interpersonal relations. It contains three key parts: context, content and process, and results. Context, perhaps, defines socialization the most, as it refers to culture, language, social structures and one's rank within them.

What are the 3 modes of socialization? ›

What are three modes of socialization? Socialization occurs through explicit instruction, conditioning and innovation and role modeling. In practice, these modes are usually blended.

Is school an agent of socialization? ›

Agents of socialization are the social structures in which socialization occurs. Major agents of socialization include the family and school, but also the media, peer groups, and other major social institutions such as religion and the legal system.

What are formal agents of socialization? ›

“Formal agents of socialization are official or legal agents (e.g., families, schools, teachers, religious organizations) whose purpose it is to socialize the individual into the values, beliefs, and behaviors of the culture.

Is the Internet an agent of socialization? ›

The Internet serves as both an influence agent and an interactive context in which socialization and identity development takes place.

What are the agents of socialization answers? ›

So what are the agents of socialization specifically? The primary agents are family, schools and daycares, peers, and media. Other agents of socialization include religion and ethnicity, political groups, work, neighborhoods, social activities, and institutions.

What is the second agent of socialization? ›

Secondary agents of socialization are those institutions that teach us how to act appropriately in group or social situations. Examples include child-minding facilities, schools, places of worship, and recreational institutions.

What are 4 examples of total institutions? ›

Several types of total institutions exist: mental asylums, Nazi concentration camps, military boot camps, convents, and monasteries. Some scholars would also say that criminal prisons are total institutions, as they exhibit some of the same processes found in the other types.

What are your top 3 the agents of socialization? ›

Socialization occurs throughout our life, but some of the most important socialization occurs in childhood. So, let's talk about the most influential agents of socialization. These are the people or groups responsible for our socialization during childhood – including family, school, peers, and mass media.

Why is family an agent of socialization? ›

The family marks the start of socialization for most people. It assists young ones assimilate their culture and identify with their community. The family also gives the young members their social status. It plays a prominent role in teaching these members of society about the dangers and effects of early sex.

Why is socialization important? ›

Socializing not only staves off feelings of loneliness, but also it helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer. In-person is best, but connecting via technology also works.

What are the 4 agents of gender socialization? ›

Learning about gender occurs through four major agents of socialization: family, education, peers and media.

What are 3 roles of parents as agents of socialization? ›

Parents have many roles in the socializations. They contribute to the planning, care for and interact with their own child, observe other adults care for and interact with their own children, and watch their child interact with peers.

What are the agencies of socialization class 11? ›

Agencies of Socialisation: Family, School, Peer Groups and Mass Media! In general, it may be said that the total society is the agency for socialisation and that each person with whom one comes into contact and interact is in some way an agent of socialisation.

What are factors of socialization? ›

Socialization is the process of learning group norms, habits and ideals. There are four factors of this process of learning. These are imitation, suggestion, identification and language.

What are the roles of agents of socialization? ›

Agents of socialization are forces in a person's life that teach them about the world and their place within it. Family, closely followed by school, peers, and media, are considered the primary agents of socialization in a child's life.

What are the most important agents of socialization? ›

Family is the first and most important agent of socialization. Mothers and fathers, siblings and grandparents, plus members of an extended family, all teach a child what he or she needs to know.


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