We are the microcosm of the culture that shaped and is shaping our lives.
Although we exhibit our own culture everyday through our actions and thinking, it is hard to talk about or explain it because it already seem second-nature to us. For example, Americans celebrate Independence Day to commemorate the end of war and oppression, celebrate Thanksgiving with roasted turkey, and celebrate Halloween with kids going door to door for the "trick or treat" - all these are part of the American tradition. Americans are also pro-democracy, and will go to a great extent to fight against tyranny. These traditions and beliefs all seem very natural to an average American that most go about them without question or resistance. They are just the way they are, and they represent the status quo. Our culture defines and dominates us as result of a lifetime of socialization through many cultural institutions (Pearce, 1999).
Socialization is important for a culture to survive, so it can pass itself from one generation to the next generation. A culture needs to perpetuate itself and preserve the society and its identity, and it does this by conditioning its members that the culture is natural, normal, good and in their best interests (Pearce, 1999).
Children are sociChildren are socialized by their parents or caretakers to behave in a way that is pleasing and socially acceptable. At an early age, they are subjected to authority, to control, to conformity, according to society's beliefs and practices.
In the same principle, teenagers follow the same socialization process but modelling from friends and peer groups rather than from parents. Women too have been socialized to act, think and feel as second-class citizens by the generally paternalistic society, although the advent of feminism is slowly changing this. Lastly, poor people and the ethnic minorities have also been socialized to feel and believe that they are economically and culturally inferior compared to the dominant educated, affluent majority.
In our lifetime, we are exposed to many different cultural institutions such as schools, churches, the media, the arts, and others. These institutions shape the way we think and the way we communicate. We conform to social conventions that were thought to us by these institutions. Conventions can be any commonly agreed forms of behavior, dress, art, literature or film, etc (Pearce, 1999). For instance, we label a girl who wears a miniskirt, a cleavage-revealing top, high heels and full make up, as a slut. We do so because there is a common understanding in our society about how a slut should dress, and we agree to that understanding.
Since childhood we have been conditioned to understand how the world of adults is like. Parents give their children toys that actually are smaller versions of adult objects such as playhouses, dolls, cars, kitchen utensils, appliances, toy guns and many more. All these toys, with the exception of educational toys, mean something and they all present to the child how modern adult life is played (Barthes, 1954). The toys are conditioning and preparing children to accept adult life, and not merely entertaining them. For instance, girls are given dolls and playhouses to play with, which is in fact a way of