1. Twin studies help us understand the differences between nature and nurture by analyzing the different social environments that are exposed to each twin in contrast to their individual genetics. The studies demonstrated that personality, including multiple behaviors and habits, are often more similar in twins raised separately in completely different households and environments. As a result, this suggests that genetics do in fact have somewhat of an influence in certain parts of an individual. Heredity is the part of our personality and biological makeup that stems from our genetic inheritance. It influences the development and actions of an individual throughout his/her lifetime. For example, mannerisms like the way a person talks and makes a gesture or certain behaviors and habits like alcoholism can often run in a family.
2. The self is the internalized concept that we have about our individual unique identity that includes the perceptions and beliefs of our own abilities, flaws and worth. According to Charles Horton Cooley, the “looking glass self” is used to describe the three phases through which we develop the self. The first phase is how we picture ourselves as we appear to others through our actions. The second phase is what we choose to believe their judgement of our action would be. The third phase is making an evaluation of our own judgement based on the perception of others. George Herbert Mead claims that the self consists of the “I” and “Me.” The “I” is the part of the self that is more unique to the individual and strives to have more freedom from constraint to do whatever it wants in any situation. The “Me” is the part of the self that consists of the support the individual receives through their socialization that includes their significant others. Significant others refer to the people who are most important to the individual’s growth of interaction such as family, friends, and peers. These people are the foundations for how our behaviors are shaped from childhood. Mead’s three-stage process of development includes the Preparatory stage, where children learn to mimic the language of those around them, the Play stage, where they learn to play pretend and try on different roles, and then the Game stage, where they finally learn to understand how to play according to the rules.
3. The dramaturgical approach is a view of social interaction based on the symbolic interactionist theory that our interactions are like what an actor does on stage that depends on the time, place, and audience. What occurs front-stage is what the audience will see, in other words, the performance itself. In contrast, the backstage serves as a form of support for maintaining the success of the performance in the front-stage. It includes all the props that enhance the overall impression of the scenery to make it seem more convincing for the audience. Erving Goffman’s idea of impression management and facework can be used to understand social behavior in terms of how people present themselves and manipulate the situation around them to convince or impress others in order to gain a form of acceptance.
4. Learning to function as individuals in our social worlds takes place through different agents of socialization. These agents are defined as the people and institutions that are involved in our socialization. They include our families and peer groups, and other institutions such as schools, our workplaces, the government, and media. In school, teachers attempt to reinforce expectations among males and females by giving the two groups different opportunities of learning and giving them unbalanced forms of treatment. They often exhibit behaviors that are stereotypical for each gender. Peer groups in school also contribute to gender role socialization when same-sex genders interact with one another and teach one another about the stereotypes that exist and the behaviors that are expected of their gender roles. Technology has influenced the socialization process in both positive and negative ways. Nowadays, people often rely on technology for easier access to communicate more effectively with each other and provide a means to maintain close or far relationships. However, just as technology has made our society more connected as ever, it has also caused a lot of us to become less socially interactive in real life.
5. Total institutions are institutions or organizations where a person is completely isolated from society and are forced to follow the rules of a higher figure of authority in power. Goffman’s four traits of total institutions: 1) All aspects of life are regulated and managed in the same place and are under the control of a single figure in authority. 2) All activities within the institution are to be regulated and managed for people with similar circumstances. 3) Authorities in power shall create the rules and activities without advising or directing the people who will participate. 4) All aspects of life will be intended to fulfill the specific purpose of the institution. A degradation ceremony refers to a process in which individuals in a total institution are resocialized by needing to give up their sense of identity and are forced to gain a new one for themselves, often seen as a form of humiliation. In some situations, it is often more severe for individuals who see it as losing their rights and freedom.
6. Society deals with the elderly population differently due to our differences in culture. The media often portrays the elderly population in a negative connotation in our culture and thus, reflects the negative attitudes most of us have towards aging. However, there are the portion of people in society that do view the elderly population as wiser and more experienced human beings to give back to the younger generation. Disengagement theory states that it is by nature and an acceptable premise that older adults gradually disengage from society as they enter the elderly stages of life. In contrast, activity theory states that older adults can remain healthy as they age by continuously staying engaged and active in social situations and interactions. A good solution to ageism would be continuing to encourage the elderly population to have a positive outlook on life each day. Moreover, surrounding themselves with younger people more often can be an effective way to motivate them to combat ageism.
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