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Socialization - The Impact on Social Groups

            Sociologists argue that all human beings – regardless of the culture they grow up in – are shaped and molded by their immediate surroundings and the people they encounter. To demonstrate this, they focus on the processes of socialization, which refers to the lifelong social experience by which people develop their human potential. What is most important here is the recognition that although the actual content of each culture that is being learned - the cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, norms, customs and traditions – might be different, the processes through which this learning occurs is fundamentally the same. In what follows, I will illustrate this main point by examining the portrayal of three children growing up along the Gaza strip in the movie "Death in Gaza." Through an analysis of the experiences of Ahmed and his best friend Mohammad – two twelve year old boys – and Najla – a sixteen year old girl – I will indicate how the process of socialization they experienced is no different from the one I have experienced half a world away in the United States.
             Sociologists use various concepts to guide their analysis of the socialization process. Here I shall discuss five: looking-glass self, role models, primary groups, significant others, and reference groups. Although it may certainly change over one's lifetime, all people develop a self-image. To indicate the process through which this typically occurs, Charles Horton Cooley introduced the term looking-glass self. According to Cooley, a person's self-image is influenced by a society's interpersonal interactions and their perception of others. Thus, what we think of ourselves oftentimes depends on how we think others see us. This is evident in the film when Miller films Ahmed hanging out with the young Palestinian militants. They talk about how they consider him to be a brother.

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