Television as an Agent of Socialization

Doing Sociology #1 – Television as an Agent of Socialization DUE_____________________

BACKGROUND: Television is a powerful agent of socialization. It is everywhere, and we devour thousands of hours of it – so it seems important to ask what kinds of messages we are getting about ourselves and our society from all that viewing. How does TV socialize us? Answering that question is the goal of this assignment.

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ASSIGNMENT: Choose one of the most popular TV series currently on the air – NCIS, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Orange Is the New Black, etc. Choose a regular drama or comedy series rather than a news program, talk show, game show or reality show. Make sure that the show takes place in contemporary times (today rather than in the past or in some fantasy world), since your aim will be to analyze how the show depicts modern society affects today’s viewers.

Now choose some aspect of social status and individual identity that you want to focus on, such as gender (how women or men are portrayed), race (how African Americans, Latinos, etc. are portrayed), sexuality (heterosexuals, gay men, or lesbians) or class (poor people, wealthy or middle class.

Watch an episode of your chosen program in its entirety. If possible, record the program or watch on an episode on Netflix, Hulu, or another on-line source so you can review certain scenes or bits of dialogue several times if needed. Take some notes as you watch and pay attention to the program’s content as it relates to your specific topic.

Use the following questions to guide your watching, analysis, and note-taking:

· In this episode of the program, how many {substitute your topic here…women} characters are there? How does the number of {women} compare with the number of other characters? Are the {women} roles major characters or minor characters? How can you tell?
· What types of roles do the {women} characters have? What are their activities, attitudes, and interactions like on the show? What kinds of things do they do and say that tell you who they are and what they are like?
· Are the portrayals of {women} positive or negative? Humorous or serious? One-dimensional or multidimensional? How can you tell?
· What images of {women} does this program portray? In other words, what messages do the words, pictures, plot lines, and characters convey to views about {women} in general?

Now that you have examined the roles and portrayals, consider the effects on society:

· How does the content of this program contribute to our socialization process? What do we learn about {women} in society from watching the program? After finishing your analysis, what you think about TV’s powers of socialization?

PAPER: Write a 3-4 page essay in response to the above questions. Be sure to include the show you watched and the focus of your analysis (race, class, gender, etc.) Make sure to refer specific segments of the episode that help to support your discussion of TV as an agent of socialization.

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