Research Report -
Agents of Socialization
This report investigates the effects of socialization on teenagers that live in Australia. The information presented in this report was gathered by library research, the novel ?The Outsiders?, and a survey. The importance of this report is to find out the positive and negative influences of the agents of socialization on teenagers. It is believed that the socialization agent which has the most effect on teenagers within our culture is the media, followed closely by the family.
Agents of Socialization
Teenagers today face pressure from various socialization agents such as the media, schools, the peer group and the family. These socialization agents influence adolescents in different ways both negatively and positively. Each agent will be examined to determine its positive and negative influences.
The media manipulates individuals, especially teenagers. The media does this by creating an image of a person a teenager would want to be and promotes this image with products such as clothes, food and cosmetics. Research shows that 60 percent of teenagers that live in Australia today find themselves buying products they have seen advertised on television or magazines.
In the novel ?The Outsiders?, Ponyboy Curtis was also influenced by the media. For example, we see how he sees the movies of Paul Newman and wishes he could be more like the image portrayed on the screen as Ponyboy says, ?I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman ? he looks tough.? Likewise, Ponyboy enjoys becoming involved in the lives of these imaginary characters he sees on the television or the movie screen. Teenagers like Ponyboy, try to change their image to look more like those presented by the media.
Although in teenage years the school becomes very important, the influence it has on adolescents decreases as they get older. Many teenagers believe that they are being forced to go to a place that they don?t get much out of. There are two types of teachers: ?working teachers? and  ?caring teachers?. The difference between the two is that ?caring teachers? come to school with the goal to positively influence on teenagers. These teachers are the ones who make the school a positive socialization agent. They aim to give adolescents true values of life and to care for them to the extent of giving full support when needed. However, schools also have negative influences that are sometimes caused by the ?working teachers?. These teachers come to school for only one reason ? to work for the money. They do not aim to give teenagers any support nor any important values.
The Peer group
In adolescent years, the peer group plays an important role in teenagers? lives. The effects of peer group are evident in a teenager?s behavior, opinions, dress, and attitude. Survey results clearly show that the peer group has a very big influence, however teenagers are not fully aware of the effects of the peer group on their lives.
On the same way, Ponyboy from the ?The Outsiders? was effected negatively by the peer group. In the rumble, he fought he didn?t like to. As a result of this, he got beaten up severely which negatively effected on his school performances. However, in some cases the peers can also have a positive effect. For example, Johnny was most fortunate to have Ponyboy as his friend. When Johnny needed it most Ponyboy was there for him. Another example of the negative is Cherry Valance. She has a strong personality and she makes her own decisions but when it comes to the impression she makes to her peer group she changes everything to suit other peoples? standards. This is evident when Cherry says to Ponyboy, ?if I see you down the hall or somewhere don?t say hi?. This means that she can?t talk to Ponyboy because she is worried about what others would think and how her image would look if the saw her talking to a Greaser like Ponyboy. However, towards the end of the novel, she changes a bit and stops worrying about her image and she visits Johnny in hospital, not caring what others would think about her.
When a teenager is growing up, the family becomes less important, however it still has a big influence. Although, Weston (1990, p.122) states ?Families all over the world are as different as they are alike?, families can be classified into two main groups. These are  ?reasonably constrictive? and  ?constrictively restrictive?. The ?reasonably constrictive? families usually produce happy and well behaving children. while the ?constrictively restrictive? families cause adolescents to become rebellious, and insecure. It appears that teenagers respond better to their parents if they are given some freedom and trusted to make good decisions.
In the novel, ?The Outsiders?, Randy was brought up in a ?constrictively restrictive? family. He was effected negatively by the fact that his parents let him do what he wants to do without thinking and giving him attention. Likewise, Johnny was negatively influenced by his family who abused him. As a result, he left home and became very influenced by his peer group who gave him support.
(Results obtained from section 2.b of survey)
The table above reveals that the socialization agent which has the greatest influence on teenagers that live in Australia is  The Media, followed by (in order)  The School  The Family  The Peer Group.
Levernez reports the extensive use of the media in Australia:
Australians make extensive use of the media:  there are 1.4 televisions on average per household,  4.2 radios on average per household,  0.9 daily newspaper on average per household, and  2.5 magazines on average per household. (Levernez, 1992, p. not specified)
Other things which influence teenagers
Only forty percent of teenagers interviewed were able to come up with anything else other than the 4 main agents of socialization that influenced them. The following comments came up during the interviews:  video games  living in France for 2 years  a trip to Europe, and  reading books.
Which socialization agents are positive, and which are negative
The graph above reveals that all socialization agents are more positive and negative. Moreover, although the family is not the most important socialization agent altrough it is the most positive one. These are the results in order of most positive to least positive:  The Family  The School  The Peer Group  The media.
Range of results
The data table below shows the range of people interviewed, the following components would be mentioned:  Gender,  Age, and  Suburb.
SuburbMid ParkSin. ParkWest lakeSunny bankHamiltonMt OmmaneyJindaleeMarocaMPAuckon Flower
This report found that the hypothesis issued at the beginning of the report was found to be correct. It appears that the media has the greatest influence on teenagers, however the family has the most positive one. It was found that the peer group has least influence on teenagers. This may indicate the fact that teenagers are not really aware of how much they are influenced by peers.
BROWNE, Rollo, (1995) Boys in schools, Sydney: Finch publishing
WESTON, Kim (1990), Adolescence, families & changes, NSW: Heinemann
HINTON, S.E (1967). The Outsiders. United States of America: Viking Press
Hand out. Families at work- an overview ? an overview
Sole parents – fact sheet