The Cycle of Socialization

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When one takes a good look at our society, it is clear that it is purely dominated by the messages that are constantly fed to us by the media. The media is so powerful that a majority of people do not even realize that it affects them in any way. In fact most people are convinced that they are completely unaffected by it.

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“The Cycle of Socialization”

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One of the reasons that the media is so powerful is because of the cycle of socialization. The cycle of socialization can open ones eyes to why our society has specific views of people from other cultures, races, and genders. The cycle of socialization can help us understand the current situation in our society since it is the reason for the existence and continuation of racism, prejudices, stereotypes, and oppression amongst different people. 

The cycle of socialization has a beginning, and a middle, but it does not really have an end because it continues with every birth. Although this is true, there comes a point in a person’s life when they make a choice to either promote the cycle or do nothing, both of which result in the continuation of the cycle, or they can openly fight against the cycle, and try to make a change for the better. The cycle of socialization begins with birth.

Everyone is born into the cycle of socialization with a label, and with no choice in the matter. At birth we know nothing about the cycle of socialization, yet still we will be treated in certain ways based on who or what we are labeled as.

According to Harro, there are two categories that people are generally placed in, there is the agent group, which includes people with dominant social traits, and then there is the target group, which includes people with the more subordinate social traits. No matter which group you fit into, your treatment in life will be predetermined, whether it be for better or for worse. 

The type of people who are part of the agent group are whites, men, upper-class citizens, heterosexuals, etc. According to Harro, “Agents have relatively more social power, and can “name” others. They are privileged at birth, and ascribed access to options and opportunities, often without realizing it” (p.

17). Targets on the other hand include women, lower- class citizens, racially oppressed roups, non- heterosexuals, persons with disabilities, Jewish people, etc; It is safe to assume that those who are part of the target group have a completely opposite experience in comparison to the agents. According to Harro, “Some target groups are virtually invisible while others are defined by misinformation or very limited information. Targets are disenfranchised, exploited, and victimized by prejudice, discrimination, and other structural obstacles” (p. 17). 

The next part of the cycle of socialization has everything to do with the things we learn from the people in our lives, and the media.

In school we get this idea of what girls are supposed to do, and what boys are supposed to do. On the news we see the same type of people on the wanted posters, and being arrested for serious crimes. It’s extremely rare to see a white person being arrested on the news. We get these biased messages throughout our lives.

It’s so extreme to the point that we do not even realize it happening. These biased messages are then reinforced by the media, it is completely unavoidable. Harro’s study found that: What makes this “brainwashing” even more insidious is the fact that it is woven into every structural thread of the fabric of our culture. The media (television, the Internet, advertising, newspapers, and radio), our language patterns, the lyrics to songs, our cultural practices and holidays, and the very assumptions on which our society is built all contribute to the reinforcement of the biased messages and stereotypes we receive. p.


In television shows and movies we see the same type of person as the criminal, we see the women doing all the housework, and watching the kids, we are constantly seeing every stereotype there is out there. It is all being fed to us from the moment we learn to speak, and it does not seem to have an end.

This is like brainwashing because many people do not realize it is happening, but I believe that a big step in putting an end to it, would be by making more people aware of these stereotypical messages, and their affect on the society as a whole. Gender also plays large role in the cycle of socialization. Just like the messages we receive about stereotypes through the media, we are also fed messages about how women and men are supposed to act and react in different situations. According to Lorber, the gender inequality in our society results in the devaluation of women, and the social domination of men.

“It is produced and maintained by identifiable social processes and built into the general social structure and individual identities deliberately and purposefully” (p. 210). 

In my opinion, some of the messages we get from our society and the media, in a way perpetuate and rationalize rape and sexual assault. I have heard many times that rape is animal instinct for men. Although rape is illegal, this idea that it is instinct for men, makes it seem almost understandable to others. Susan Griffin, wrote an article called “Rape: The All-American Crime,” in which she discusses the many myths our society has about women, men, and rape.

Susan Griffin tells us how “the same culture that expects aggression from the male, expects passivity from the female. Conveniently, the companion myth about the nature of female sexuality is that all women secretly want to be raped” (p. 500). The media helps to encourage this myth. 

We constantly see advertisements that display women saying “no” but clearly meaning “yes.

” This same idea is often portrayed in movies, and programs on the television. It is clear that the media basically controls our society. The media plays a large role in the cycle of socialization, which is the reason for our societies foggy views about people of different cultures, races, and genders. The media uses it’s power to spread stereotypes, and it is the cause of some prejudice as well. The media makes it so that racism as well as gender roles are always present in our society. 


  1. Griffin, Sarah.

    “Rape: The All-American Crime. ” Women Images and Reality.

    New York: McGraw Hill Higher Education, (2003): 500-505 

  2. Harro, Bobbie. “The Cycle of Socialization. ” Conceptual Frameworks. New York: Routledge, (2000): 15-19 
  3. Lorber, Judith.

    “Night to His Day. ” The Social Construction of Gender. Sexism. New York: Routledge. (2000): 203-210

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The Cycle of Socialization. (2017, Sep 26). Retrieved October 1, 2022 , from

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