“There is no great genius without a mixture of madness” – Aristotle

This one is going to be a sane one. I’ll admit that the last two were a little out of the ordinary. I like that though. I probably enjoyed writing those two more than most of the other stuff I’ve written about recently. However, not everyone wants a day trip into my imagination so time for a bit or normality. According to Aristotle though, I’m a genius. Don’t forget that.

Drinkers Degree.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a Sociology degree. Not a great degree I’ll admit, nor the best classification I could have achieved but it’s an interesting topic to study and I’m glad I did it. As a degree, Sociology doesn’t really open many career doors. In fact, I probably took more value from just being at Uni than I did from learning about how society and its little cogs work. What something like Sociology does however, is open up some interesting discussions.

Now I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. My version of discussions (unless I’ve had a few drinks) revolve around me listening intently (sometimes not), nodding and smiling (always – you have to at least seem interested) and sometimes interjecting with something to keep me in it for the duration. In short, I’m not a chatterbox.

I was involved in one of those conversations last Friday. Naturally, I didn’t say much but it got me thinking about how things have changed over the years.

Too little, too late.

I’m going to start being all sociological now. It’s not going to be in-depth, Oxford PHD type stuff. Rather, one of the first and easiest parts of sociological thinking you’ll come across.

During my education, we were always taught about two levels of socialisation – Primary and Secondary. I suppose it’s the classic version of Sociology. What the conversation on Friday night alerted me to however, was a third form of socialisation that (for all I know) is only recently being discussed. This all stemmed from a conference one of my friends went to and one of the speakers touched upon “The Children of 97” – or something like that. Following that discussion, over the course of 5 minutes on Saturday, I had a quick read over something directly related to The Children of 97 (or whatever it was)and learned a bit about Generations X, Y and Z.

Generation X, generation strange, sun don’t even shine through our window pane.

As far as I can understand, people born in the early 1960s to the early 1980s belong to Generation X. Anyone born in the early 1980s to 2000 to Generation Y whilst Generation Z is pretty much up for discussion. Some theorists date it from the mid-1990s onwards and some date it from 2000. I’m firmly in the former camp and I’d put Generation Z’s birth in 1997.

If you look at socialisation in the classical sense, Primary is your socialisation in the home. It’s your base, your parents are there and that’s where you start to learn about the way the world works. Depending on who your parents are and what their beliefs are, that might or might not be a good thing. Secondary socialisation is based outside of the home and teaches you how to act in group situations. Primarily, this is based in the school environment and learnings will be taken from both teachers and classmates. That’s it. That’s where you learn how to be a human being, what the right etiquette is and in a lot of cases, what your values and beliefs are.

If socialisation is based on learning, Generation Z has given us our Tertiary Socialisation. If we look at how people learn these days, we’re becoming less and less dependent on our family, friends and peers.

We’re in a world where multimedia is the dish of the day. We have 24 hour news coverage, conversations take place over Social Media instead of in person and Google is the first resource that people use to find things out. The great thing about all of those things (and the internet in general) is that it’s all based on opinion. At home, generally, you’re only going to get one opinion. At school, it may differ from the teachings you receive at home but again, based on the curriculum, you’re only really getting one opinion. The internet doesn’t tell you what to believe or even how you should behave. It gives you a wide group of opinions that can help you decide the person you want to be not tell you who you should be.

Turning from reason to madness, or vice versa.

Yes, for younger children, the internet can be an extremely dangerous place but it’s also a place that can teach you how you shouldn’t behave. At the end of the day, we’re human beings. Wherever you go, you’re always going to find racism, homophobia and sexism. Naturally, you’ll find parents that preach that kind of stuff to their children. It’s unfortunate but it’s unavoidable. Luckily, the way that socialisation works is that each stage flows into the next on the path to becoming a moral human being.

Primary – Speech, beliefs.
Secondary – Etiquette, interaction, behaviours.
Tertiary – Who am I? Who do I want to be?

Obviously that’s a really watered down version of the three stages. I just wanted to highlight how each one is an extension of the last. We need the first two to develop and the third is where choice comes in. Historically, as a species, we felt bound to our family and the beliefs that they held. Things changed and Generation Z is the first generation to have real choice about what type of person they want to be. Society changes as the world turns and new theories and ideas will sprout up all of the time. I’m not saying I’ve identified a new theory because many people have thought and spoken about this before me. I’m pretty much just putting my thoughts on paper.

Can I call myself a Sociologist yet?