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The Three Kings of Social Control

By Lauren Díaz Quintana, M.A. Sociology

When I was 7 years old, my friend Adriana received coal from the three kings because she was a "bad child" that year. I remember her sobbing and I was thinking... I must be a nice child forever for this to NEVER happen to me. I also remember thinking that it was probably Adriana’s fault as to why she received coal from the three kings. I had no need to question the three kings. Neither did I have the need to question the Catholic institution at the time. Now knowing that it is all a facade, we can examine how holidays like these are used as a way to socially control individuals from as early as childhood through primary socialization.

Parents and caregivers are able to use this time of the holidays to enforce “desirable” behaviors on children. If children are not able to mimic and model these behaviors, especially during the time close to the holiday season, they would experience real social consequences. Parents and caregivers become symbolic interactionists themselves by believing that this is an effective way to help children become good civilians through communication and dialect (Akers et al. 2020). As a child, you would not only feel sadness because the three kings don’t love you, you would also feel shamed from your community when they find out how the three kings feel about you. This is a way in which programming and indoctrination begin from such a young age. The three kings is also a tool in which society programs adults to highly value monetary and material objects to further continue the cycle of capitalism and consumerism.

Additionally, the idea of three kings is a way for parents and caregivers to train and socialize their children in a "gender bootcamp." By "gender bootcamp", sociologists coined this concept to describe the primary socialization of gender within children in society (Stuber 2016). So during the holidays, society believes that girls receive Barbies and boys receive Nerf guns. And if it happens the other way, society would deem this as deviant behavior. As a sociology graduate student, now I can clearly see the toxic programming and rhetoric we are all socialized and forced to experience. By connecting life with deviance and social control and having these conversations within my community, I hope to continue shedding light on these issues and enlightening those around me including myself.

Thank you for these conversations, Dr. Gatewood and the Deviance and Social Control class of Fall 2020.

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