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Lecture 4

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

of 3
Professor Robert Brym
DATE: September 30
LECTURE 4: Socialization
To behave as a human being, one has to socialize with other people
Socialization is the process of learning culture and how to interact with others
Rene Spitz`s experiment on the effects of socialization or the lack thereof:
oHe compared children who were raised in an orphanage to those raised in a nursery
attached to a women`s prison (both were hygienic and provided good food etc.)
oThe orphans were cared for by six rotating nurses and had less human contact as a
result, while the ones in the nursery were cared for individually by their mother and
were raised in an active social setting
oAt 9-12 months, he found the orphans had higher occurrences of infections, which led
to a higher death rate
oBy two years old, all the children in the prison nursery were walking and talking, but
only 8% of the orphans
Studies show the same for adults- those who have very little social contact tend to have a
weakened immune system
Social depravation: depriving of social stimuli
Without socialization, we do not reach our full human potential
Evolutionary psychologists, also known as sociobiologists, claim that our genes determine
whether we are law-abiding, whether we are unfaithful to our partners etc.
Darwins Evolutionary Theory states that
1-The characteristics of members of each species vary widely.
2-Species members with more adaptive characteristics are more likely to survive until
3-Therefore, the species characteristics that endure are those that increase the survival
chances of the species.
This basically means that only the fittest of each species live long enough to have offspring
and that:
The species` characteristics that endure are only the only ones that are useful to society
Sociobiologists often attempt to use Darwinian theory to prove statements like the following
1-Men are more likely than women to want many sexual partners
2-This accounts for male promiscuity and female fidelity
They explain this by stating the fact that men can often ejaculate sperm their whole
lives, while women have eggs only from puberty to menopause. According to many
sociobiologists, this means that a woman improves her chances of reproducing her
genes if she has one partner who will protect her the few times she gets pregnant. On
the other hand, a man improves his chances of reproducing if he impregnates as many
women as possible
3-They then assert that this behaviour cannot be changed
However, there are several obvious problems with this type of logic:
1-Many behaviours discussed by sociobiologists are not universal and some are not
even that common.
2-It has never been verified that specific behaviours and social arrangements are associated
with specific genes- and even if a link was found, it would be wrong to use this to make
assumptions because
3-Variations among people are not due just to their genes, but also to their environment and
random variation
Factors that affect socialization
Social categories, in which we organize people have changed in society, as shown in the
following example:
oIn pre-Industrial societies, children were treated as mini adults- they were often working
full-time around the age of 10-12 and married by 14 or 15
oIt wasnt until the 1600s that the notion of childhood first emerged, and only among the
well-to-do, who thought it necessary for boys to learn and play and have fun
oIn the 19th century, this notion began to develop for upper-class girls as well
oThe average working class child didnt have a childhood until about the 20th century
How did the idea of childhood emerge?- Wealthy and more complex societies stretch out
childhood years. People live longer in developed societies (better hygiene and nutrition), and
so there is less of a rush for them to grow up, move out, and to get married and have kids.
Also, the period of childhood is needed to give children an opportunity to prepare for adult
life. Today, people typically arent considered adults until they`ve finished their education,
gotten a job, and are able to support themselves.
However, sociologists point out more recent changes to the socialization of youths:
oThey tend to have less adult supervision and influence (because adults are working
longer hours outside the home, and also because of the higher occurrence of single-
parent families)
oAs a result, they are more influenced by the media and their peer group
oLess participation in extra-curricular activities (partially due to government funding
oIncreasing adult responsibilities, especially for those in poorer families, who are more
likely to have a job
oChanges in child-rearing practices- many wealthy parents allow their children to be
overly dependent
Desocialization and Resocialization
Resocialization occurs when powerful socializing agents deliberately cause rapid change in
peoples values, roles and self-conception, sometimes against their will
This is common in jails, and psychiatric institutions, and other instances in which people are
isolated from regular society
Phil Zimbardos (Stanford) study on resocialization:
oPrison simulation with 24 volunteers- 12 were arrested and treated as prisoners and 12
were told to act as prison guards
oPrisoners became dehumanized and servile, while many of the prison guards began to
terrorize over the prisoners and abuse their power- about 1/3 of the guards began
treating the prisoners like despicable animals
oThey had become resocialized- the prisoners were miserable and could leave at any
time but never did
The roles we play in society can easily change if we are suddenly placed into a radically
different social setting
Ex. Private Lynddie England, who became infamous when pictures showing her and other
American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners were made public. She had been just a regular
person before, but her personality was transformed when she was placed in that prison
environment and given power.