Material Type:
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Oss0212
  • Sociology
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    Education Standards

    Explain the role of institutions in perpetuating cultural messages.


    This objective is lacking in the main text. Please see the recommended reading by the chapter author below in Section 1. 

    Recommended Reading

    The agents of socialization are the same agents that perpetuate cultural messages to the people. Thus, any institution that socializes people perpetuate culture. These agents/institutions are the family, schools, peers, the mass media, and religion.

    The Family

    The family is certainly the most important agent of socialization for infants and young children, and it is also very important in transmitting culture. The reason we turn out much like our parents, for better or worse, is that our families are such an important part of our socialization process including teaching us the culture of the society. For several years we have more contact with our parents than with any other adults. Because this contact occurs in our most formative years, our parents’ interaction with us and the culture they teach us can have a profound impact throughout our lives.


    In several ways, we learn the culture of the society through schools. First, students learn a formal curriculum that is rife with the dominant culture of the society. In addition, students learn the culture of the society when they interact with their fellow students. Finally, students interact with authority figures, their teachers, who are not their parents. In interacting with authority figures, students learn the dos and don’ts of the society.


    Teenagers always want to “fit in.” Consequently, they do what their friends expect them to do. Thus, our friends play a very important role in our lives, including becoming familiar with the culture of the society. This is especially true during adolescence, when peers influence our tastes in music, clothes, and so many other aspects of our lives.

    The Mass Media

    The mass media are another agent of socialization, another institution per which culture is learned. Undoubtedly, many people learn the culture of the society per television shows, movies, popular music, magazines, Web sites, and other aspects of the mass media. Per the media, we learn what is accepted as part of the culture. For example, not too long ago homosexuality was not accepted as a normal part of the society. However, due to the influence and exposure of the media, homosexuality is now culturally accepted in our society.


    Although religion is arguably less important in people’s lives now than it was a few generations ago, it still continues to exert considerable influence on our beliefs, values, and behaviors. As Christopher Dawson wrote in his book Religion and Culture, "In all ages the first creative works of a culture are due to a religious inspiration and dedicated to a religions end" (Dawson 50). Not only does religion affect how people in certain cultures think or how they are inspired, but it also affects how they act. For example, Muslims do not eat, touch, or give with their left hand, because they think that it is evil. Jewish people eat latkes during the holidays, and at church Catholics eat bread and drink wine. Many Christians have crosses decorating their houses, and sometimes have paintings or pictures saying "God Bless". Indeed, religion greatly affects how people act, and decorate; religion affects customs, foods, and the culture of a group of people.

    Supplementary Material (Videos and Reading)

    Stuart Hall - Race, Gender, Class in the Media (Video)

    This is about how the mainstream media presents gender, race, class, ethnicity, and religion. According to the video, the media has a hidden agenda based on ideology. The media racialize crimes. In short, the media is active in perpetuating culture. However, other forces also influence culture.

    The Impact of Social Media on Culture (Video)

    The internet is very influential in what we believe in, and how we behave. Internet sites like twitter, google, Facebook, etc. all have impact on our culture. Social media controls our daily, professional, social, etc. lives thus perpetuating culture.

    Social Institutions - Education, Family, and Religion | Society and Culture (Video)

    In this video, it is mentioned that Institutions are structures of society that fulfill the needs of the society. Not only are they essential to the society's needs, they also help to build the society itself. They impose structures on how individuals behave. Institutions and their rules guide what we do. Institutions shape individuals who make up the society. Institutions socialize us to internalize our culture.

    The Impact of New Social Media on Intercultural Adaptation

    This paper investigates the impact of using new social media on the intercultural adaptation process. In this paper, Rebecca Sawyer notes that social media have become increasingly popular components of our everyday lives in today’s globalizing society. The media provide a context where people across the world communicate, exchange messages, share knowledge, and interact with each other irrespective of the distance that separates them. According to the author, research shows that people tend to use new social media to become more integrated into the host culture during their adaptation and to maintain connections to their home countries.