Kamis, 24 Februari 2011


Information work is a service profession. It is therefore important for information worker to understand society and its dynamics. This understanding enhance their ability to organize, retrieve and disseminate information to user populations in different information environments.

Society – group of people who live in a particular geographical area, are subject to a common system of political authority, are subject to a common system of political authority, and are aware of having a distinct identity from other groups around them (Giddens 1997).

Community (Unity of people smaller than a society) – Cluster of people sharing residential space, proximity in a geophysical location or area, also sharing networks of social interaction.

These are people and groups that influence our self-concept, emotions, attitudes, and behavior. These agents include family, schools, church, the work place, the state, peer groups and the mass media.

The family- “a group of persons directly linked by kin connections, the adult members of which assume responsibility for caring for children” (Giddens 1997:140).
The family is the primary agent of socialization because it is the child’s first encounter with society. From birth the child is exposed to traditions as well as societal norms through the family. Families are part of society therefore are also responsible for inculcating society’s norms and values to their members. Some families take the responsibility of inculcating religious norms.

A nuclear family is where two adults living together in a household with their own or adopted children;

An extended family consists of close relatives other than a married couple and children live in the same household or in close and continuous relationship with one another. Traditional societies consisted of extended families where responsibilities were shared among members. e.g. looking after the economic, educational and emotional needs of family members was shared among the various members of the extended family.

Functions of the family
Human beings are social beings, we need other humans for our survival. The family the family is the foundation for human survival. The following are some of the functions of the family:
Ø To ensure that babies survive to become adults;
Ø To regulate sexual activity;
Ø To ensure that children are properly socialized according to acceptable norms and values of society;
Ø To provide and support for other family members;
Ø To satisfy our emotional needs for love and security;
Ø To provide us with a sense of identity and belonging (emotionally, and socially).

Parenting styles
Parenting style is affected by both the parents' and children's temperaments, and is largely based on the influence of one’s own parents and culture. Most parents learn parenting practices from their own parents — some they accept, some they discard.
Parents and parenting styles play an important role in the socialization process.

Authoritarian parents are strict and have a set standard of behavior that is not negotiable. Children are expected to do as they are told without questioning any decisions made by their parents. They regard obedience and respective as very important. They do not display love and warmth in their dealings with their children although they take their parent responsibility seriously. As adults, children from authoritarian families tend to be shy, withdrawn and unfriendly in social situations.
Authoritative parenting/Balanced parenting
The parents are demanding. This type is characterized by a child-centered approach that holds high expectations of maturity, compliance to parental rules and directions, while allowing for an open dialogue about those rules and behaviors between the parent and child. This type of parenting encourages children to be independent but still places limits and controls on their actions." "Extensive verbal give-and-take is allowed, and parents are warm and nurturant toward the child." Authoritative parents are not usually as controlling, allowing the child to explore more freely, thus having them make their own decisions based upon their own reasoning. Authoritative parents set limits and demand maturity, but when punishing a child, the parent will explain his or her motive for their punishment. "Their punishments are measured and consistent in discipline, not harsh or arbitrary. Parents will set clear standards for their children, monitor limits that they set, and also allow children to develop autonomy. They also expect mature, independent, and age-appropriate behavior of children." They are attentive to their children’s needs and concerns, and will typically forgive and teach instead of punishing if a child falls short. This is supposed to result in children having a higher self esteem and independence because of the democratic give-take nature of the authoritative parenting style. This is the most recommended style of parenting by child-rearing experts.

Indulgent parenting/Permissive parenting
The parent is responsive but not demanding.
Indulgent parenting, also called permissive, nondirective or lenient, is characterized as having few behavioral expectations for the child. "Indulgent parenting is a style of parenting in which parents are very involved with their children but place few demands or controls on them. Parents are nurturing and accepting, and are very responsive to the child's needs and wishes. Indulgent parents do not require children to regulate themselves or behave appropriately.
Children of permissive parents may tend to be more impulsive, and as adolescents, may engage more in misconduct and drug use. "Children never learn to control their own behavior and always expect to get their way." But in the better cases they are emotionally secure, independent and are willing to learn and accept defeat. They are able to live life without the help of someone else.

Neglectful parenting/Uninvolved parenting
The parent is neither demanding nor responsive.
Neglectful parenting is also called uninvolved, detached, dismissive or hands-off. The parents are low in warmth and control, are generally not involved in their child's life, are disengaged, undemanding, low in responsiveness, and do not set limits. Parents are emotionally unsupportive of their children, but will still provide their basic needs.
Children whose parents are neglectful develop the sense that other aspects of the parents’ lives are more important than they are. Children often display contradictory behavior, and are emotionally withdrawn from social situations. This disturbed attachment also impacts relationships later on in life. In adolescence, they may show patterns of truancy and delinquency.
- learned, socially acquired traditions of thought and behaviour. It comprises of values, norms and material goods that characterize a particular group.

Values – ideas that individuals or group hold about what is desirable, proper and good. Values are strongly influenced by culture.

Norms – rules of conduct that specify appropriate behaviour in a social context. Failure to conform to norms my lead to sanctions (punishment of some kind). Norms may be applicable to all members of society or be specific to a particular culture. While adherence to norms is an effective means of preserving cultural practices, in some extreme it may result in aggression or conflict with laws of countries.

An important way of acquiring culture is through socialization which is the process through which people develop an awareness of social norms and values, and achieve a distinct sense of self (who they are). Socialization enables individuals to learn their culture and how to live within it. Therefore socialization has the following two important functions:
  • To provide the individual with the necessary resources or tools (norms, beliefs, values, etc) for acting and participating within society.
  • To orientate individual members of society by communicating the contents of culture from one generation to the other, thus enduring social and cultural continuity. We can then say socialization is a vehicle for enculturation.

This is the process of learning through experience and observation norms, beliefs and values of one’s culture. It is the process of acquiring one’s culture.
It is not possible to learn and maintain everything about one’s culture because of other factors in society. E.g. technology is playing a big role in changing some of the ways. Children are exposed to life-styles and cultures that are very different from what their parents were exposed to because of television, thus they learn things that are foreign to their cultures. This leads to acculturation.

This is a process in which members of one cultural group adopt the beliefs and behaviors of another group. Although acculturation is usually in the direction of a minority group adopting habits and language patterns of the dominant group, acculturation ban be reciprocal. That is dominant group also adopts patterns typical of the minority group.

The work place
Ethics relates to moral issues and choice and deals with right and wrong behavior. Ethical behavior is determined by various factors such as cultural, organizational and external factors. Cultural factors include the family, community, religion, etc. organizational factors include policies, practices, organizational codes of behavior, etc. external factors include political, legal and economic developments. All these factors work together in guiding and shaping workplace behavior. these factors make it difficult to have a universal agreement on what is right or wrong. Organizations usually have code of conduct that employees are expected to observe. Various professions also have their own codes of conduct which members must observe. Failure to observe these could result in disciplinary actions against such members or even expulsion from the profession.

Ethical issues in the workplace include:
· Working conditions;
· Sexual harassment;
· Employee privacy issues and others.

An example of an ethical issue is issues around working conditions relate to hours of work, minimum pay, safety in the workplace, and others.

Sexual harassments in the workplace is defined as unwelcome sexual advances for sexual favours, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment issues are particularly difficult to deal with because of cultural differences especially in multicultural societies. In South Africa most organizations have guidelines for employees regarding what is regarded as sexual harassment. It is important that each employee familiarize him/herself with these especially because what is accepted culturally might be very different from what the workplace accepts.
Questions related to employee privacy are:

  • Is it right for and employer to listen to telephone conversations or intercept email message of employees if they suspect wrong doing on the part of these employees?
  • Is it right to make use of workplace facilities for personal needs? Does the employer have a right to monitor and take action against such activities?
  • Is it ethical to work less time than you are required to? To what extent does the employer have a right to check and take action?

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