Thus, in the area of socialization, there has been a steady progression from unidirectional-effects models—first, from parent to child, and then from child to parent—to bidirectional-effects models, and finally to multidirectional-effects models. The latter are more complex, more ecologically valid (e.g., Bronfenbrenner 1979), but more difficult to test empirically (e.g., Peterson and Haan 1999). Nevertheless, it seems reasonable that models of socialization should reflect more sophisticated contextual theoretical approaches. To return to the earlier question: Who are the agents or forces of socialization? According to the best thinkers in the area of socialization, the agents or forces of socialization are legion. They include parents, children, teachers, peers, institutions, the media, and society.
Parents socialize children—but children also socialize parents. Peers, according to Judith Harris's (1995) model of peer group socialization, may socialize children even more so than parents. Likewise, parents' families and friends socialize parents. Furthermore, the media, historical events (e.g., war, famine, industrialization), socioeconomic status, family structure, culture—all of these influence both parents and their children. By leaving these important factors out of our models of socialization, we limit the complexity of our theoretical models and thus our ability to explain important outcomes. Finally, socialization occurs in many different contexts (i.e., at home, in the workplace) as well as over the life-course.
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HILARY A. ROSE