No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior

By Joshua Meyrowitz | Go to book overview

PART IV

Three Dimensions of
Social Change

Each of the next three "case study" chapters closely examines a specific example for each of the general types of roles that have been analyzed thus far. Chapter 12 examines recent changes in notions of masculinity and femininity (group identity), Chapter 13 explores shifting conceptions of childhood and adulthood (socialization), and Chapter 14 examines the changing performances of national political leaders (hierarchy).

I have chosen men and women as a case study for several reasons. First, male and female are the two largest human "groups," and the differences and similarities between them are therefore of concern to every person. Second, the feminist movement has replaced the issue of race as the dominant and most controversial "integration" movement. Most important, however, the roles of men and women have traditionally been thought of as being biologically rather than socially determined. If traditional distinctions in gender roles can be shown to be related to distinctions in social information-systems, and if the current merging of masculine and feminine behaviors can be related to merging information-systems, then there is even more evidence to support the argument that changes in situations have an effect on all other groups—groups that are more widely accepted as being shaped by social rather than biological factors (religion, class, race, nationality, profession, etc. ).

I have selected child and adult roles as the focus of the case study on socialization because the socialization process from childhood to adulthood is one that is universally experienced. Further, of all socialization processes, the stages of childhood are most closely associated with "natural" stages of physiological and cognitive development. Similar to the analysis of masculinity and femininity, child socialization offers both the most difficult challenge to the theory presented here and the greatest

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