CHAPTER 4: SOCIALIZATION
Social isolation and the crystallization of self-identity:
o The ability to learn culture and become human is only potential, and this
potential can’t be realized without socialization, which is the process by
which people learn their culture, including norms, values and roles, and
become aware of themselves as they interact with others.
Feral children (specifically “the wild boy of Avalon”) are examples
because they had no human interaction so were never socialized.
Roles are the behaviour expected of a person occupying a particular position in
A study by Rene Spitz on socialization:
o Spitz compared babies raised in an orphanage with babies who were
raised in a prison nursing home, and the orphans had much less contact
with adults because in there were 6 nurses for 45 orphans, but in the
prisons the mothers cared for the babies. In the orphanage they would
also hang sheets between cribs so the babies couldn’t see each other
interacting. The babies in the orphanage didn’t have social stimuli and
the social deprivation also caused the orphans being more susceptible to
infections and had a higher death rate than the babies in the nursing
home had. And by 2-3 years old, all of the nursing home children were
walking and talking and only 8% of the orphans were.
The formation of a sense of self continues in adolescence, which is a particularly
turbulent period of rapid self-development, but just one episode in the lifelong
process of socialization.
Agents of socialization include families, schools, peer groups, and the mass
media. These settings teach us how to control out impulses, think of ourselves
as members of certain groups, value certain ideals, and perform various roles.
But these can give mixed messages and contradict each other.
The self consists of your ideas about attitudes about who you are.
Theories of childhood socialization:
He said that infants demand instant gratification but being denied
helps them for a self-image, and then it begins to realize it’s needs
are different from its parents and it has an existence
independence of others. Because of these lessons, children
develop a sense of what is appropriate behaviour and then a
person conscience crystallizes. He said only social interaction
allows the self to emerge.
o Cooley’s symbolic interactionism:
Cooley introduced the idea of the “looking glass self.” When we
interact, people gesture and react to us, which allows us to
imagine how we appear to them. We then develop a self-concept or set of feelings on who we are. An example is when a teacher
evaluates students negatively, they develop a negative idea of
themselves and then they do worse in school.
The I, according to Mead, is the subjective and impulsive aspect of
the self that is present from birth. The me, according to Mead, is
the objective component of the self that emerges as people
communicate symbolically and learn to take role of the other.
Mead’s Four Stages of Development: Role taking:
1. Children learn language and other symbols from their
significant others (people who play important roles in the
early socialization experiences of children).
2. Children pretend to be others (playing house, playing
3. (About age 7) Children play complex games where they
take the roles of many people at once.
4. They take the role of the generalized other (is a person’s
image of cultural standards and how they apply to him or
her). Ex. An individual may understand that using the
cultural standards, people generally regard him or her as
funny, intelligent, etc.
o Gender Differences:
Carol Gilligan’s research shows how differences in the sense of
self between girls and boys. Parents and teachers pass on cultural
standards to boys and girls—adult authorities usually define the
ideal girl as eager to please and non-assertive, and girls learn this
lesson as they mature, and girls tend to have lower self-esteem.
o Cultural Differences:
Ex. In Ancient China (because of complex cooperative irrigation
needs) there was emphasis on harmony, cooperation and social
order, whereas in Ancient Greece (where there was individual
small scale herding and fishing) it was more politically
decentralized, and they focused on discrete categories instead of
the whole system clearly society plays a major role in shaping
how we think and the way we think of ourselves.
How Socialization works:
o A Social environment is composed of the real or imagined others to
whom individuals must adapt to satisfy their own needs and interests.
Every person needs to adapt to their social environment, and adaptation
is the process of changing one’s actions to maximize the degree to which
an environment satisfies one’s needs and interests.
o Different types of people with different characteristics emerge from this
because different families and different teachers have different
expectations you need to adapt to. o Socialization is an evolutionary process—a person acts on the basic of
their existing characteristics, then the environment responds positively or
negatively to the person’s actions, and lastly the environment response
shapes the individual’s action/behaviour. When environments respond
well, they reinforce existing characteristics, and when they respond
negatively, change and learning is the result.
o In children, they have fewer options for the social environment (because
it is just the family). But when they are older and fully socialized, they
have more options and are more skilled at getting environments to co-
operate, so their personalities are more stable.
Agents of Socialization:
o The family is the most important agent of primary socialization, which is
the process of acquiring the basic skills needed to function in society
during childhood. The family you are born into also exerts an enduring
influence over the course of your life (ex. long term effects of a family’s
religious atmosphere). But family as the primary socialization was much
more pronounced a century ago because they family members were
more available for the child (ex. women stayed at home).
o Schools are important for secondary socialization, which is socialization
outside the family and outside childhood. Academics and vocational
subjects are just one part of schooling—there is also a hidden curriculum
in school that involves teaching obedience to authority and conformity to
cultural norms. In the family, kids are evaluated on personal/emotional
criteria, but in school the hidden curriculum leads them to believe they
are evaluated on their performance on tests. But in school and the work
world, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc. also help determine
Conflict theorists proposed the idea of the hidden curriculum,
because many students from disadvantage background struggle
with the hidden curriculum. The resistance of people at the
bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy help