« Age-Based Stratification | Main | Stereograms - Seeing beyond the image »

Media Influences Dominate Parental Influences

Excellent example of paper 2 by Julianna Banse-Fay - Winter 2010.

Before modern technology, when an adolescent had a question, most would ask their parents. If the parents were unsure, then the adolescent would ask their grandparents. From there, they might ask a neighbor or a close friend. Then probably ask a member of a social group, such as church, for the answer. Information came from agents of socialization, or family, school, peers. The information was obtained from the geographical area one grew up in meaning the information received would usually be of best benefit in that area. After the expansion of technology (telephones, television, and in particular the internet), children most often go to the online world for answers. Then instead of going to their parents second, they chat online with friends. Sometimes they chat with people they have not met. The agents of socialization are now mass media, peers, family. The parents are left behind and close relationships with them are sparse. This happens because the internet offers very specific information about topics and the resources to chat with professionals of a topic. In comparison, parents' knowledge is microscopic. In this world, socialization creates who we are, thus technology advancements play an important role in the type of people we become.

In the article, The Pressure to Modernize by Helena Norberg-Hodge, she writes about a small community located in Northern India in a high-altitude desert on the Tibetan plateau. The paper talks about how modernization is carried to traditional cultures, such as Ladakh. Modernization is defined by Dictionary.com as, "To accept or adopt modern ways, ideas, or style." Ladakh was an isolated, yet self-sufficient, community until 1962 when the Indian Army built a road which connected Ladakh to the rest of the country. With this came consumer goods, government bureaucracy, and misleading impressions of the outside world. Development began and the people of Ladakh were beginning to become socialized into a new lifestyle.

For instance, the Ladakhis' basic needs (food, shelter, and clothing) were free of a money value. They worked together in close relationships to obtain what was needed. They did not realize that is was different for the foreigners, or people following Western-style ideals. The Ladakhis' began to feel poor because they did not have as many riches (jewelry, silver, and gold) as the foreigners did. When Norberg-Hodge asked a Ladakhi to show her where the poor lived, he responded, "'We don't have any poor people here.'" Then, eight years later, she overheard him speaking with tourists and stated, "'If you could only help us Ladakhis. We're so poor.'" This example shows how strong the influence of these tourists was. The Ladakhis' perception of themselves was more or less that everyone was an equal and life was full of nature's riches. After becoming socialized into the tourists' ways, they looked at themselves as unfortunate and not having enough to survive in an ideal lifestyle. They wanted to be more Westernized, after all, those with more money had the great life which was displayed on television.

There had been no television, but what happened after television came to Ladakh? With its arrival came media and Western and Indian films. These films gave an idea of power and wealth. It showed Ladakhis all different types of machines. These machines did much of the work for us Westerners. The images showed beautiful people doing glamorous things. The films exaggerated many aspects of real life thus making them intriguing and admirable. "Socialization happens from us learning the patterns of interaction, learning the culture, and developing our personality" (Rowan). The youth in Ladakh reflected on their own life and started to feel ashamed of their culture! Why did they need to get their hands dirty when they could look extravagant and clean and wealthy. Those people had more money and thus must have had a better life. These people could also go away to a school and become educated by professionals.

Western-style education was socialized into Ladakh. "The sociological point is that social structure sets the context for what we do, feel, and think and ultimately, then, for the kind of people we become" (Henslin 98). So the jump from traditional to western was a drastic change. Education in Ladakh was, "the product of a person's intimate relationship with their community and their ecosystem" and "Children learned from grandparents, family and friends, and from the natural world" (The Future of Progress). This meant that their education was directed at what was necessary for life in their culture. They knew how to provide basic needs for themselves and live close with the natural world and use resources sustainably and carefully. The jump to western style education brought focus on technology. It taught about generic things of which follow a mainstream industrial attitude. They neglected to teach about their current society and ecosystem. It was directed more toward progression in a money value.

A gentleman by the name of Ferdinand Tonnies analyzed shifts in relationships. He wrote of Gemeinshaft, or "intimate community" and Gesellshaft, or "impersonal association." Gemeinshaft described village life or a society where everyone knows everyone else, like Ladakh. But in the emerging society, or Western culture, "the personal ties, kinship connections, and lifelong friendships that marked village life were being crowded out by short-term relationships, individual accomplishments, and self-interest." (Henslin 98). Our time has become utilized much differently. Working together with the family and having closer physical relationships has moved to working for corporations where, "contracts replace handshakes." (Henslin 98). Henslin also notes how, "our time is spent with strangers and short-term acquaintances." We have ultimately become sufficient as individuals.

Technology has been an important tool in helping us achieve individualism. Individualism lead to the television being created, and one thing which came with it was the Media world. Mass Media was a large influence in why the Ladakhis socialized how they did. "Socialization influences not only how we express our emotions but also what emotions we feel" (Henslin 82). The Ladakhis went from being content with a life of self-sustainability to becoming insecure, competitive, poor, primitive, inefficient, stressed, and lonely. To the Westerners, technology is progress. Progression leads to domination. And once domination is achieved, we have taken over the world. It is a difficult decision to determine which is right or which is wrong. But it is blatant that a community of which nourished itself has become a community with many issues and problems.

Henslin, James M. 2009. Essentials of Sociology A down-to-Earth Approach. Allyn and Bacon: Boston MA

"modernization." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 10 Feb. 2010. .

The Future of Progress (Green Books, Dartington, Devon, UK, 1992).

Wolf, Rowan. 2009. SOC 204 class discussions and notes.