The older I grow the more everything begins to come together in relation to the type of person I am today, and how the choices my family and I have made have shaped and become the definition of this thing I call “life”. I have a pretty good idea about who I am as a person, but after all the discussions we hold in class, I was starting to become curious about the kind of person I am in the eyes of our society. C. Wright Mills’ philosophy will light the way for me in finding out how each of my social influences have effected me in either a positive or a negative way. In this assignment I will attempt to investigate the interconnections between my ethnicity and social structure that make up my biography. Given my early age I do not have much history to look back on other than school and when I moved across country, but here it goes.
What was true for my family and I’m sure many others as well, the way I was raised and the social interactions I have experienced have shaped the socialization of my life as a young adult. I am one of 3 children, I am the youngest of my two older brothers and my parents have been married for 26 years; we represent the typical “NUCLEAR FAMILY” according to the FUNCTIONALIST PERSPECTIVE. (TCO 3) We had structure and discipline in my house, if we were bad or acted up, we were hit with a wooden spoon. Now a day, this would be considered a DEVIANT ACT because parents today do not like to discipline their children by spanking anymore. To me, being disciplined affected me in a positive way. It taught me the differences between right and wrong and what was acceptable from what was going to get me spanked. My parents established us as a working MIDDLE-UPPER CLASS family and raised us in a small rural town in New Jersey. Our town was very small, the type of town where everybody knows everybody and their personal business!
My parents stressed to us that our CULTURE and EDUCATION were our main priorities and would be the building blocks of our future. (TCO 3,4,5) My parents also showed us at an early age that family, religion, and morals were of great importance. We attended Catholic Mass every Sunday and always ate dinner as a family. Typically everyone in our town was of white decent and there were very few African Americans, so at this point in my life I was not very aware of any other religion or ETHNICITY other than white. I feel like this sheltered me towards other ethnicities, as I wasn’t exposed to them early on. The same goes for religion, growing up in New Jersey everybody I knew was Catholic or Jewish- as far as I knew those were the only two religions in life. Therefore, when my parents decided to move me from New Jersey to Arizona, I experienced a CULTURE SHOCK. (TCO 3) Not only was the scenery and way of life here completely opposite from my life that was a mere twenty minutes from one of the largest cities in the world, I was seeing and meeting people who were nothing like the people I grew up around.
There were people from all over the place, and it was like finding a needle in a haystack to meet someone who was originally from Arizona. I was away from all my friends, family, and living in a different CULTURE, which really affected my emotions to where I felt DISORIENTED. The ENVIRONMENT was a complete polar opposite from where I grew up. Although one this I did notice about my home state of New Jersey, is how ETHNOCENTRIC Italians are about our state. I am a full-blooded Italian and moving to Arizona I did sort of think of myself a little bit higher than other cultures when I was younger, I was a very proud Italian! (TCO 1,2,3,4,5) For me, this part of my life was spent going through a RESOCIALIZATION. (TCO 4) I had to let go of everything I was brought up around and learn to live in the desert. I was in a new state, a new school, with new friends, and a new house that was not the one I was born and raised in.
In high school I joined the cheerleading team as a freshman and made the Varsity Squad. Cheerleading has been a part of my everyday life from when I was six years old up until I was nineteen. What is a Cheerleader? A cheerleader is a confident, positive, and a helpful individual when it comes to community service. Being a cheerleader has taught me leadership qualities and that has not only helped me in the sport but also in school, work, and my self-esteem. They typical STEREOTYPE of a cheerleader is that they are mean, unfriendly, and stupid. When it came to my senior year I was given the name if Captain of the cheer team.
I have set a level of BUREAUCRACY within the team and set rules and goals for the team to achieve and follow. At this time in my life I was help to a higher STATUS and given more responsibility. These girls started out as a SECONDARY GROUP when we first started out on the team together, but after years of being with one another everyday three hours a day- we quickly became like family. This transition from SECONDARY GROUP to a PRIMARY GROUP was the best thing to happen to me, I had a team of sisters. Our COALITION had a common goal, which was to bring excitement to our fans at footballs games, and bring championships home to our school at competitions. (TCO 4, 6, 8)
During high school mostly everyone is in his or her ANTICIPATORY SOCIALIZATION process, we are taking this time to learn out foundations in order to be prepared for our future roles as college students. (TCO 4) Some of us will pursue engineering jobs, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, paleontologists, or my profession of choice, which is nursing. Therefore, when I graduated college I attended community college for the first two years and took nursing pre requisites so I could apply to a University. On my first day of college my SOCIAL ROLE CHANGED. I felt like I needed to be more mature and grown up now; I went from being a carefree teenager to a young adult fairly quickly. Some of my friends chose not to go to college and chose a path that will ultimately lead them to more DEVIANT BEHAVIOR and do them more harm than good for their future. (TCO 4,6) I chose to get a part-time job and continue to give back to them community by dedicating my time and knowledge to the human anatomy.
Work is also another factor in my life that has built me into the individual that I am today. This particular group would be considered SECONDARY mostly because we are there for professional reasons and while I am comfortable around them I am not myself and do not know all of them on a personal level. My job exposes me to a very diverse environment; I deal with dozens of differing CULTURES, ETHNICITIES, AGE GROUPS, AND GENDERS. I am a childcare worker at a local Gym; I deal with hundreds of boys and girls a day some Black, Mexican, Jewish, Muslim, Indian, White etc. My dream is to become a Pediatric nurse so working with a diverse group of children and exposing me to how to handle and nurture each individual kids based on their specific needs is beneficial for me for the future. I have a coworker who I don’t feel is as comfortable with some of the groups as he is selective or DISCRIMINATORY about some of the kids based on their RACE. For example, if a Mexican kid is crying and upset he will not pick that kids up because of the STIGMA around most Mexican’s saying they are “dirty” and are from a LOWER CLASS of people. (TCO3, 5) Fortunately this employee no longer works for our company and has been relieved of his duties due to the PREJUDICE and RACIST accusations. (TCO 5,6,7,8)
Finally, writing this socioautobiography has allotted me the chance to discover the interconnection between this “slice of my life”, my CULTURE, and the SOCIAL STRUCTURE. (TCO5). I have experienced RESOCIALIZATIONS, RACISM, STEREOTYPING, CULTURE SHOCK, ETHNOCENTRISM, and also touched on issues of MULTICULTURAL DISCRIMINATION and SOCIAL CLASS. Reminiscing over my past and present experiences, it is interesting to see how much socio interactions play a part in my everyday life. There are few things I would have changed from the past such as being ethnocentric, but I learned a valuable lesson from it; I needed to step up and embrace society and people’s differing cultures for what they are and not what they aren’t. I vision myself evolving over time and continuing to alter my behavior patterns and culture while re-evaluating the norms and values- I will experience another SOCIAL CHANGE again soon. (Schaefer, 2011) I look forward to what the future has in store for me and will keep striving to become a more INDEPENDENT THINKER.(TCO 4,5,6,7)
(Schaefer R 2011 Sociology: A Brief Introduction)Schaefer, R. (2011). _Sociology: A Brief Introduction_. (9th ed) New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.