MASS MEDIA

The Socialization Process & Stereotyping

The Socialization Process & Stereotyping

The mass media plays a significant role in the secondary socialization process, especially since many people spend many hours of their week watching television, browsing the Internet, listening to the radio etc.

Identity:For those growing up, the media can help people to understand what kind of person they are. By identifying with the characteristics or abilities of the people they listen to, watch or read about, the media contributes towards an individual’s self-identity in terms of gender, social class, sexuality and religion.

Political influence:For many people the media is their primary source of information about anything connected to current affairs and politics. All media has a political bias, whether we are aware of it or not, so we are being politically socialized by the papers we read or the programmes we watch.

Who we vote for:Newspapers, more than other forms of media, are politically biased and usually reflect the political views of the individual who owns it. It can be argued, therefore, that newspapers play an important role in influencing who we vote for during an election. It has also been argued that the press spoil the democratic process by pushing us too strongly towards one political party over another.

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Stereotyping and the media

Often the tabloids will whip up a moral panic by focusing on one or more social groups and referring to them in a negative way. For a long time ‘hoodies’ have been portrayed as a threat to society and so have become today’s folk devils – a group of people who are generally feared and disliked by society. Gypsies are also presented in a similarly negative manner.

By exaggerating the deviancy of groups it regards as socially unacceptable, the media actually creates more conflict and more instances of the deviant act than there were in the first place. This process is known as deviance amplification. An example of this occurred in the 1960s when there were ongoing riots in Brighton between the mods and rockers.