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Mass Media and Socialization

Stephen L. Muzzatti


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Socialization is a lifelong process through which people learn the patterns of their culture, including behavioral expectations, values, and “truths.” This process is facilitated by a host of groups and institutions such as the family unit, the educational system, peer groups, and the mass media. Debates in sociology and related social sciences over the relative importance and impact of these agents on individual behavior have raged for decades with little resolution. However, the mass media's increasing ubiquity and ever divergent forms leave little question as to their pervasiveness. While they are a more recently developed agent of socialization, the mass media strongly influence public opinion and our worldview. By imparting both approved and fugitive knowledges, media narratives shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us. While the mass media are often lumped into one homogeneous category, particularly by critics decrying a negative influence upon, for example, young people, it is important to recognize that there are many diverse media ranging from chart-topping CDs, best-selling novels, and Hollywood blockbusters through political affairs news magazines, amateur Internet pornography sites, and university textbooks. Hence, to suggest homogeneity of any sort is simplistic. While some media, such as newspapers, have been in existence for several centuries, most of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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