Chapter 4 – Socialization
Socialization – Process by which people learn their culture – including norms, values and roles – and
become aware of themselves as they interact with others
Role – the behaviour expected of a person occupying a particular position in society
Rene Spitz - compared children who were being raised in an orphanage with children who were being
raised in a prison nursing home (more in lecture slides)
Without childhood socialization, most of our human potential remains undeveloped.
Agents of socialization – families, schools, peer groups, the mass media
Theories of Childhood Socialization
Self (or self image) consists of your ideas and attitudes about who you are as independent beings
Sigmund Freud – Austrian founder of psychoanalysis. Referred to the part of the self that deands
immediate gratification as the id – èwe cannot live in an orderly society unless we deny the id
ID – according to Freud, is the part of the self that demands immediate gratification.
Superego (personal conscience) – according to Freud, is a part of the self that acts as a repository of
Ego – according to Freud, is a psyschological mechanism that balances the conflicting needs of the
pleasure-seeking id and the restraining superego
Unconscious – according to Freud, is the part of the self that contains repressed memories we are not
normally aware of.
Researchers have called into questions many of the specifics of Freud’s argument, three criticisms stand
out: (page 103)
1. The connections between early childhood development and adult personality are more complex
than Freud assumed
2. Many sociologists criticize Freud for gender bias in his analysis of male and female sexuality.
3. Sociologists often criticize Freud for neglecting socialization after childhood (he believed human
personality is fixed by about the age of five)
Charles Horton Cooley
Introduced idea of ‘looking-glass self’ , when we interact with others, they gesture and react to us,
allowing us to imagine how we appear to them
Just as we see our physical body reflected in a mirror, so we see our social selves reflected in people’s
gestures & reactions to us. George Herbert Mead
Took up and developed the idea of the looking glass self.
I – according to Mead, is the subjective and impulsive aspect of the self that is present from birth.
Me – according to Mead, the objective component of self that emerges as people communicate
symbolically and learn to take the role of the other.
Mead saw the self as development in self as four stages of role taking.
First, children learn to use language and other symbols by imitating important people in their lives, such
as significant others
Significant others – people who play important roles in the early socialization experiences of children.
Second, children pretend to be other people.(use imaginations to role play, such as doctor”
Third, when they reach the age of seven, they learn to play complex games requiring that they
simultaneously take the role of several other people.
Fourth stage, involves taking the role of what Mead called the generalized other.
Generalized others – according to mead, is a person’s image of cultural standards and how they apply to
him or her.
Swiss psychologist who dvided the development of thinking skills during childhood into four stages
In the first two years of life, children explore the world through their five senses (sensorimotor stage,
can’t use symbols yet at this point of thir live)
From the 2-7 is the ‘preoperational stage’ of cognitive development.. language blossoms
Abstract thinking begins at the age of 7, from 7-11 children are able to see connections between causes
and effects in their environment... called the ‘concrete operational’ stage of cognitive development.
At the age of 12, children develop to think more abstractly and critically ‘formal operational’
Showed how children’s moral reasoning (ability to judge right from wrong) also passes through
‘preconvential stage’ means that for a child, what is ‘right’ is simply what satisfies them.
‘conventional stage’ .. teenagers begin to think about right and wrong as what pleases their parents and
teachers and are consistent with cultural norms. (people understand theft is wrong at this stage) Some people don’t advance beyond conventional morality, some do
“postconventional stage” at this stage person may ponder meanings – freedom, justice, equality
A psychologist who disagreed that people pass through the same stages of mental development and
think in similar ways, regardless of the structure of their society and their position in it. For Vygotsky,
ways of thinking are determined not so much by innate factors as they are by the nature of the social
institutions in which individuals grow up.
Carol Gilligan and Gender Differences
Girls suffer a decline in self esteem between the ages of 5-18 while boys do not. Found that teenage
boys score higher than girls on self esteem
Agents of Socialization
Freud and Mead understood well that the family is the most important agent of primary socialization
Primary socialization – process of acquiring th