Socialisation and Social Interaction
To understand what it is to be human is to understand that we are the only organisms who can think
Personality: individual's relatively stable pattern of behaviours and feelings
Two approaches to understanding how personalities are developed: biological and environmental
o Nature vs. nurture: debate between whether environmental forces or environment define the
person we become
o Nature side argues that our actions and feelings stem from biological roots; nurture side
argues that we are the product of socialisation: process by which we learn culture, develop
personalities, and become functioning members of society.
Our sense of the world and of ourselves is a result of social interaction: the ways that people
interact in social settings while recognising each person's subjective experiences and/or intentions
Most behaviour is determined by genetic makeup
Men have women have different brain structures which influences how they respond to the world.
o Women better at expressing emotions and remembering details of emotional events due to
the larger hippocampus
o Men have more brain space devoted to sexual drive and larger brain centers for action and
Sociobiology: uses evolutionary theory and genetic inheritance to examine biological roots of social
Began in the 1960's, associated with Konrad Lorenz and Edward O Wilson
o Asserts that social behaviour among humans has evolved over time to secure the survival of
the species. Attributes that help an individual produce offspring are selected for, and
attributes that diminish the ability to produce offspring are selected against.
o Also called evolutionary psychology: argues that Darwinian inheritance can explain
contemporary human behaviour.
Ex. John Patton argues that the Achuar Indians of Ecuador have one the world's highest
murder rates because killing is a part of their culture and has been selected for over
many years. Being a warrior is the highest status and the best warriors (most likely to
survive battle) are considered most attractive and father the greatest number of
May also be useful in explaining risky behaviour among men; it shows off to women
Most compelling argument on this side: what happens when children are isolated from human
Effects of social isolation - the case of Anna
When discovered she was unable to walk, talk or do anything that demonstrated basic
intellectual capacity (1938)
o Could walk, understand simple commands and feed herself after being discovered and worked
with for two years
o After two more years she learned basic toilet habits and could dress herself. o She died at age ten, and had only progressed to the intellectual capacity of a two and a half
year old. Could talk in phrases but never developed a capacity for language
Social reality is constructed by people every time they interact with others. Genetic makeup gives us
the capacity to be social beings, but it's the process of social interaction that allows us to develop
o Gender: rejects biological determinism. Our experiences and interactions define our gender.
Can see parental reaction to innate differences; different responses to girls and boys; media as
a source for gender stereotypes, advertising in particular; imitating gender roles in the
o Race: parents shape children's learning about race and relations; attitudes of racial
discrimination, usually emphasise promotion of mistrust;
o class distinctions; children absorb implications of class in society; Alwin changed the emphasis
in child rearing in North America
o adult family
o work roles
Development of Self
Self: one's identity, comprising set of learned values and attitudes that develops through social
interaction and defines one's self image
o Key component of personality. Personality and self join in healthy individuals to produce a
sense of uniqueness
Self image: introspective composition of various features and attributes that we see ourselves as
Sociologists tend to view socialisation as the culmination of a series of predictable stages that
people go through that either assist or hinder their adjustment to society around them.
Psychologists tend to view socialisation as a process of internal conflict and tension that people
must resolve if they are to be happy.
C. H. Cooley - How Others See Us
Looking glass self: what we think of ourselves is influenced by how we imagine other people see us.
To be aware of yourself, you must be aware of society. Shown in the lack of consciousness in feral
Self consciousness and social consciousness are inseparable because people cannot conceive of
themselves without reference to others. Therefore the self is a result of social interaction
G. H. Mead - Understanding Ourselves
Argued that the self is composed of two primary elements:
I: spontaneous, creative, impulsive. Responds to things emotionally. o Me: socialised element of the self, part of the self that regulates behaviour. Controls
spontaneous impulses of the "I".
Understanding of selves and social environment influenced by those around us. Seen by ways in
which we act differently around different people
o Investigated how we attribute different levels of importance to those around us.
o Significant others: people we want to impress or gain approval from
o Generalised other: compilation of attributes associated with the average member of society;
represent an individuals appreciation that other members of society behave within socially
accepted guidelines and rules. Those in the broader social world that influence our behaviour.
Role-taking: assuming the position of another to better understand that person's perspective
o Critical to explaining symbolic interactionist view on how we interpret ourselves, other people
and the social role.
o Critical for empathising with someone else's situation
Investigated how we develop a sense of self through social interaction by investigating how children
o Preparatory Stage (birth - 3): first experiences with others are to imitate what they see others
doing. Aim to please significant others in their lives (usually parents) although they don't
understand the meaning behind the interactions. Begin to develop the I through positive and
negative reinforcement while the me forms in the background.
o Play Stage (3 - 5): start to assume the roles of others, moving beyond imitation. The me
continues to grow, children want positive reinforcement from significant others. Language
skills develop through this stage and children can more accurately communicate their
thoughts and feelings
Game Stage (elementary school years): take on multiple roles at once (daughter, student,
friend etc) and begin to identify with the generalised other. Participating in games that require
them to play a role teaches them to understand their individual position as well as the needs
of the group. Period where primary socialisation occurs. It occurs when people learn
attitudes, values, and appropriate behaviours for individuals in their culture. As language skills
develop, children gain their first sense of self
In early adolescence, secondary socialisation occurs through participation in more specific groups
with defined roles and expectations.
Anticipatory socialisation: mentally preparing oneself for future roles
Sigmund Freud - Psychosexual Development
Believed people behaved according to unconscious drives and experiences.
Believed the unconscious was filled with memories of events, experiences and possibly traumas
Theorised that when memories are painful, people keep from their conscious awareness using
defence mechanisms. Not resolving these painful memories could limit a person's ability to lead a
full and satisfying life.
Model of personality
o Id: biological drives and impulses. Unconscious, selfish, irrational, unsocialised, instant
gratification. Pleasure principle.
o Superego: norms, values and morals that are learned through socialisation. Internalised social
standards for a group, helps form a person's conscience.
o Ego: intermediary between id and superego. Conscious and reality based, provides socially
acceptable ways to achieve what a person wants. Difference between Mead's concepts of the I and me and Freud's concepts of the id, ego and
superego is that Freud focused on tension and conflict in the personality and Mead focused on the
creative, dynamic force that works together.
Erik Erikson - Psychosocial Development
Believed that socialisation is marked by crises throughout ones life.
Suggested culture plays a critical role; children from different cultures learn different values and
goals and experience different kinds of parenting styles and guidance.
Defined eight psychosocial stages of development:
o Each stage is marked by a need to overcome a unique crisi