Sociological Portrait Essay
Describing oneself sociologically requires an individual to be aware of the relationships between the experiences she has and her society around her. Furthermore, the things we do are shaped by the situations we are in, the values we have, the way people around us act, and how that all relates to a societal outcome. Therefore, by looking at myself through a sociological lens I can connect the sociological dots trough socialization, culture, social hierarchies, status and roles, groups, social class, gender, race and ethnicity, and the social institutions that have help me become the person I am today. Throughout this paper I will paint my sociological portrait and connect the sociological dots to my own personal experiences. Socialization is a process through which children and adults can both learn from each other. Interestingly, this process has been around since the beginning of man and is an essential part of being human.
When I was a child, my family would have been considered a traditional family – my father worked, my mother stayed home with my older brother and me, we lived in a house and could pay our bills. The social hierarchy of my family was very complex – my mother usually had a say in everything and during the day I thought of her as the head of the household. However, when my father came home he was the head of the household. Around my 13th birthday, though, my family hierarch changed because my parents got divorced. Since I was still a young teen at the time and I was still going through the socialization process my parents’ divorce had a huge impact on me. Similarly, the new family structure forced me to be more independent and it placed excessive weight on my gender role; at times my role in general since I now lived with my father and had to take care of the household while he worked and I no longer knew which parent to trust.
With this newfound independence I became lost and confused which resulted in me becoming a drug addict, subsequently because I had seen my mother do it with alcohol all of my life. My grades in school dropped and so did my mental development. Eventually my social status dropped as well. It was at this point in my life that I entered rehab for my drug addiction. Thankfully, during this stage while at this social institution (i.e. rehab) I began to improve academically and socially. I also began to respect my new family’s hierarchy and improve my social status. Despite my personal experiences, family divorce is, in fact, a tragic event in the process of socialization that can impact individuals in very different ways. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a healthy marriage is good for children because it helps protect them from mental, physical, educational, and social problems (“Marriage & divorce,” 2014).
It is clear that if I grew up in a healthy family environment I would not have acquired the status of a recovered addict. I would also not have suffered so much in my schooling. The APA states that 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce (“Marriage & divorce”, 2014). With the high percent of divorce in the United States I might assume that the rates for various problems seen with children are at least partly associated with divorce rates being so high. That being said, “a few studies demonstrated that the child gender role influences family structure such that boys in one-parent families are worse off than girls” (Leve, L. D., & Fagot, B. I., 1997). This is true for my older brother because he was worse off than I was. After reviewing the Social Explorer in Chapter 13, the map indicates that there are 241,717 households living in Providence County, Rhode Island.
Out of those households, households with one or more people under 18 are 42,957 and family households with married couples is 17.77% (50 Years of American Families and Households). The statistics from this study do not surprise me because it is common knowledge that divorce rates have increased significantly since that 1960’s. However, according to the part on living arrangements for children 17 and younger, there has been a 23.6% drop in children living with married parents, children living with only their mother has increased by 17%, and children living with only their father has increased by 5.5% (50 Years of American Families and Households). Therefore, this study shows the shift of the family hierarchy, social hierarchies, statuses and roles, and social institutions. As a result of my socialization process, I now hold many roles and hold many statuses. I am a white, straight, female, daughter, step-daughter, sister, step-sister, aunt, niece, girlfriend, student, Catholic, and recovered drug addict.
While some of these statuses are ascribed statuses (e.g. social positions received at birth), such as being a white female and daughter, some are achieved statuses (e.g. social positions that are earned or chosen), like being a recovered drug addict and student (Manza, j. et al., 2013). I have also received a socioeconomic status based on my family – I was/ still am part of working-class America. However, I do largely identify myself as being a straight, Irish, Catholic, female whom ethnicity is Caucasian. While I hold all of these statuses, a specific role comes along with each status. Since I hold so many roles, role conflicts can occur in my life since I try to fulfill each role to the best of my abilities. I feel that I am always experiencing role conflict between being a good employee, girlfriend, or friend with being a good student.
I, however, have decided to fulfill my role as a student first because my socialization process taught me to value education and take full advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow emotionally, physically, or mentally. Furthermore, I also feel that my actions are due to how my social institutions (i.e. the schools and the rehabilitation center I attended) and how my family’s social structure have influenced how important my education is to my overall success (Manza, j. et al., 2013). As one can see, I have experienced many social structures that have influenced who I am today however, the main one I feel that has influenced me the most is educational institutions. After reviewing “Thirteen Useless Majors,” Sociology in Focus: Human Capital and Your “Useless” Major, I have determined that my major – Human Resource Management – is definitely not useless nor are any of my other degrees I hold.
Nevertheless, I have learned that I possess a stockpile of human capital that is useful to most organizations in many different industries which will ultimately help me enter a new social class, socioeconomic status, and hopefully help me excel in social institutions like work, family, and school. Some forms of human capital that I have are skills, knowledge, (good) habits, social skills, creativity, cognitive abilities, and the ability to perform labor in a Human Resource business environment so as to produce economic value to not only benefit the Human Resource Department but the company as a whole (Palmer, 2012). When selecting a major I had to take a lot of considerations into account. Examples include: how I was going to afford to attend college and what my cheapest options were that would not compromise my educational goals (like attending an accredited online school). To be honest, I think I have changed my major about three times; first it was nursing, but after becoming a phlebotomist I soon realized nursing was not for me; second was administrative assistant, but I soon realized that I was not interested in that line of work either; third was the latest – in Human Resource Management.
And to be frank, the more I learn about my degree the happier I am that I chose this path. Additionally, I looked into the average earnings of Human Resource Managers in my area and they are higher than I expected. Nevertheless, I did not choose my major solely on annual income. Rather, one factor I looked at heavily was the ease of obtaining a job in my desired field after graduating. Another factor that heavily looked at was whether I could perform the physical aspects of the career I was going to choose. The reason I was such a concern of mine was that I had and still suffer from a back injury that occurred in a motor vehicle accident over two years ago. I had to really look at what I was physically capable of in order to have a successful career I have always wanted. However, my stress of that matter was eased when I discovered that my field has a high projected growth and poses how physically risks for me. Going to college was not just about getting a good job for me, but it was a personal mission. From a sociological viewpoint, I have always wanted to climb the social status hierarchy and gain a new socioeconomic status.
Many studies have shown that if an individual wishes to break the cycle of her socioeconomic status that her parents have passed down to her she individual must attend college. Therefore, I knew I wanted to go to college and I still want to push my academic abilities as far as they can go. Despite my reasons for attending college, I belive that there are many other motivations that bring students to college. I found an article in the New York Times that states the five main reasons why individuals should go to college. The list included: 1) Learning in a rigorous, supported educational environment; 2) Socializing and developing a network of friends and contacts; 3) Status; 4) Self-discovery; and 5) Attaining a marketable degree and developing earning potential (Ojalvo, H. E., 2012). To me, this article really sums up all of the reasons why I wanted to go to college and the fundamental reason why I decided to go to college.
When thinking about the type of human capital that I have gained while taking online classes, my mind starts to race with all of the marketable soft and broader skills I have learned and will continue to learn until my online schooling comes to an end. Some of the skills that I gained from online school are: appropriately managing my time, how effectively organizing myself and my thoughts, effectively communicating with others when there is a conflict of different ideas, and lastly being able to keep a commitment, not only to myself but to the school by always completing my schoolwork to the best of my abilities and not making excuses when it comes to getting something accomplished on time (and done correctly). Other skills that I possess are enthusiasm, high performance, common sense, motivation, adaptability, loyalty, commitment, and reliability. All of these other skills have been learned through life lessons and the socialization process, like social skills and common sense.
I feel that once I graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management I will have a great deal of marketable skills for which employers will be looking. Moreover, I believe that there are several reasons why data has changed for attitudes about proper career and family roles for each gender. One of the major changes is that women, including married women, are entering the paid workforce. In my area in the 1970’s the average female over the age of 16 in the paid workforce was 46.42% compared to data from 2010 which was 60.81% (Attitudes Towards Working Mothers). By going to college and furthering my education in order to enter the paid workforce I am only aiding in these statistics. In addition, I believe that since our society’s attitude has changed toward working mothers: it has aided in the increase of this type of data. I do not have any children of my own, but if I did I would see myself working full-time along with my husband working full-time as well. The reason I say this is because my boyfriend and I are both career-oriented people, so we would not want to stop working just to have children.
Furthermore, I believe that if we both work it would show the children that it is important to establish a life of your own and hard work pays off. Furthermore, my image of what my future family and work life will be differs greatly from what my parents created. When I was younger my mother stayed at home and took care of my brother and I, while my father worked and took care of the family financially. When I was about 12 or 13-years-old my mother decided that she wanted to go back to work and make her own money so that she could have a little extra spending cash. I remember my father being every supportive and saying that as long as it made her happy he was fine with her obtaining a part-time job. Looking back, I am surprised that my father was so supportive because of how long my mother was a stay-at-home mom. I truly admire my father for being so supportive and willing to help her fill out applications and everything. I also remember my father bringing home flowers when he knew she had a bad day at work. It was really great to see my family grow in such a manner. Now that I look back at that moment in my life I must say that it was probably one of the driving forces that ultimately made me want both a career and a family.
In conclusion, I believe that if a female has a good balance between work and family there is no reason for her to give up one for the other. Since the things we do are shaped by the situations we are in, the values we have, the way people around us act, and how that all relates to a societal outcome, it is essential to see how our experiences can relate to sociological concepts. Therefore, by looking at myself through a sociological lens I can connect the sociological dots on how socialization, culture, social hierarchies, status and roles, groups, social class, gender, race and ethnicity, and social institutions have helped me become the person I am today. Without being exposed to certain instructions, experiences, and elements of the socialization process in which I was brought up, I would not be as driven a student as I am today. My personal experiences are just that – personal experiences that have shaped who I am, how I see the world, and how I view certain topics today. The more personal experiences I have the more I will grow as an individual in all sociological aspects. However, while some personal experiences may help an individual become who she is today it does not mean that she should let personal experiences define who she is today.
Attitudes Towards Working Mothers. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2014, from http://old.socialexplorer.com/pearson/spicemap.aspx?v=2B0A057523EF40A&m=play Leve, L. D., & Fagot, B. I. (1997). Gender-role socialization and discipline processes in one- and two-parent families. Sex Roles, 36(1), 1-21. Retrieved from
http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/225373690?accountid=3783 Manza, j. et al. (2013). The sociology project: Introducing the sociological imagination. Pearson, Inc.: New Jersey. Ojalvo, H. E. (2012, February 2). Why Go to College at All?. The Choice Why Go to College at All Comments. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/why-go-to-college-at-all/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 Palmer, N. (2012, April 25). Human Capital & Your “Useless Major” Retrieved August 11, 2014, from http://www.sociologyinfocus.com/?s=human capital and your useless major&submit= 50 Years of American Families and Households. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2014, from http://old.socialexplorer.com/pearson/spicemap.aspx?v=B3613DB916BF466&m=play