Brym’s SOC+, 1e
Chapter 3 - Socialization
The view that social interaction unleashes human abilities is supported by studies
showing that children raised in isolation do not develop normal social skills.
Although the socializing influence of the family decreased in the twentieth century, the
influence of schools, peer groups, and the mass media increased.
People's identities change faster, more often, and more completely than they did just a
couple of decades ago; the self has become more plastic.
Declining parental supervision and guidance, increasing assumption of adult
responsibilities by youth, and declining participation in extracurricular activities are transforming
the character of childhood and adolescence today.
I Social Isolation and Socialization
Without socialization, people rarely develop normally and have low intelligence.
Socialization is the process by which people learn their culture. They do so by (1) entering
into and disengaging from a succession of roles and (2) becoming aware of themselves as
they interact with others. A role is the behaviour expected of a person occupying a
particular position in society. Spitz's natural experiment thus amounts to quite compelling
evidence for the importance of childhood socialization in making us fully human. Without
childhood socialization, most of our human potential remains undeveloped
A. The Crystallization of Self-Identity
The crystallization of self-identity during adolescence is just one episode in a lifelong
process of socialization. "A sociologist once wrote that 'the central growth process in
adolescence is to define the self through the clarification of experience and to establish self-
esteem' (Friedenberg, 1959: 190). For example Robert Brym, playing Tony in West Side Story
turned out to be the first section of a bridge that led me from adolescence to adulthood. Playing
Tony raised my social status in the eyes of my classmates, made me more self-confident, taught
me I could be good at something, helped me to begin discovering parts of myself I hadn't known
before, and showed me that I could act rather than merely be acted upon. In short, it was through
my involvement in the play (and, subsequently, in many other plays throughout high school) that
I began to develop a clear sense of who I am."
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B. The Symbolic Interactionist Foundations of Childhood Socialization
Socialization begins after birth when babies cry and they are responded to with food and
affection. At first, their needs are satisfied immediately, so they cannot distinguish themselves
from their care-givers. Social interaction enables infants to begin developing a self-image or
sense of self : a set of ideas and attitudes about who they are as independent beings/
Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud proposed the first social-scientific interpretation
of the process by which the self emerges. He argued only socialization can emerge the self
-He noted that infants demand immediate gratification but begin to form a self-image
when their demands are denied. Then they learn what to do to so their demands are not
-Equally important, the infant begins to sense that its needs differ from those of its
parents, it has an existence independent of others, and it must somehow balance its needs with
the realities of life.
- lessons in self-control the child eventually develops a sense of what constitutes
appropriate behaviour and a moral sense of right and wrong. Soon a personal conscience
crystallizes. It is a storehouse of cultural standards.
- a psychological mechanism develops that normally balances the pleasure-seeking and
restraining components of the self.
Introduced the idea of the looking-glass self, making him a founder of the symbolic interactionist
tradition and an early contributor to the sociological study of socialization.
-we interact with others
- They gesture and react to us
- allows us to imagine how we appear to them
-We judge how others evaluate us
-From judgments we develop a self-concept or set of feelings & ideas about who we are
-defined symbolic interactionism the idea that in the course of face-to-face
communication, people engage in a creative process of attaching meaning to things.
Developed Cooley’s idea on the looking-glass self.
I The subjective and impulsive aspect of the
Me The objective and social component of the
(storehouse of culturally approved
standards that emerge as the self emerges)
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Mead drew attention to the unique human capacity to "take the role of the other" as the
source of the me. Mead understood that human communication involves seeing yourself from
other people's points of view. All human communication depends on being able to take the role
of the other, wrote Mead. The self thus emerges from people using symbols, such as words and
gestures, to communicate. It follows that the me is not present from birth. It emerges only
gradually during social interaction.
Mead’s Four Stages of Development
1. At first, children learn to use language and other symbols by imitating their parents
(a.k.a significant others)
2. Second, children pretend to be other people. Use imagination to role play.
3. Third, as they reach age seven, children learn to play complex games that involve
taking role of many others
4. Fourth, they can take the role of generalized other. Years of experience may teach an
individual that other people, employing the cultural standards of their society, usually
regard him or her as funny or temperamental or intelligent. A person's image of these
cultural standards and how they are applied to him or her is what Mead meant by the
Sociological factors help explain differences in the sense of self that boys and girls
-parents and teachers pass different cultural standards to each gender.
- define the ideal woman as eager to please and not confident.
- Girls develop lower self-esteem than boys do
Sociological factors help explain the development of different ways of thinking or
cognitive styles of different civilizations.
Complex irrigation needs Hills and seashores of ancient
had rice agriculture, everyone Greece suited to small-scale herding
needed to cooperate to grow it. and fishing.
Centrally planned organization less socially complex than China.
Follows hierarchy in large state politically decentralized.
Harmony and social order are citizens have more personal
Chinese stress the importance of Processes and Events are the result
mutual social obligation and of discrete categories.
consensus rather than debate. Ways of thinking depended less on
Believe whole systems cause people's innate characteristics than
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processes and events. processes and on the structure of society
II Function, Conflict, Symbolic Interaction, and Gender: How
Agents of Socialization Work
Functionalists emphasize how socialization helps to maintain orderly social
relations. They also play down the freedom of choice individuals enjoy in the
Conflict and feminist theorists typically stress the discord based on class,
gender, and other divisions that is inherent in socialization and that sometimes
causes social change.
Symbolic interactionists highlight the creativity of individuals in attaching
meaning to their social surroundings. They focus on the many ways in which
we often step outside of, and modify, the values and roles that authorities try to
A. Family Functions
Function-alist claim that the family is the most important agent of primary socialization,
the process of mastering the basic skills required to operate in society during childhood. Are
taught intimate relationships, source of primary socialization face to face. The Socialization
function of the family is dissolving. Before they were more readily available for children and not
today. Families left farming to work in factories, where dads could also somewhat care for the
family. Divorce rates increasing create increases in state run child care facilities. In Canada, poor
childhood socialization is a social problems when it leads to child neglect and abuse.
B. Schools: Functions and Conflicts
For children over the age of five, the child-care problem was partly resolved by the growth of the
public school system, which became increasingly responsible for secondary socialization , or
socialization outside the family after childhood. Manifest (obvious) objective of schools is to
provide academic and vocational subjects. Latent (non-obvious) objective of schools is to
provide the hidden curriculum, instructs students what will be expected of them in the larger
society once they graduate—it teaches them how to be conventionally "good citizens." In
industrialized countries, it is more important that students socialize than learn the subjects.
What is the content of the hidden curriculum?
-students are led to believe that they are evaluated solely on the basis of their
performance on impersonal, standardized tests. They are told that similar criteria will be used to
evaluate them in the work world.
-hidden curriculum teaches students punctuality, respect for authority, the importance of
competition in leading to excellent performance, and other conformist behaviours and beliefs
that are expected of good citizens.
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Hidden curriculum was first proposed by conflict theorists, who saw an ongoing struggle
between privileged and disadvantaged groups whenever they are seen beneath the surface of
-research on socialization in schools highlights how students from working-class and
racial-minority families struggle against the hidden curriculum.
-Conflict theorists say they are taught to act like conventional good citizens.
-They reject the hidden curriculum in comparison to their experiences and those of their
friends, it makes them discouraged about the school’s ability to provide them with good job
-As a result, they rebel against the authority of the school.
-Instead of being polite and studious. They violate rules and neglect work.
-do poorly in school
-enter work world near the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy
C. Symbolic Interactionism and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Early in the twentieth century, symbolic interactionists proposed the Thomas theorem
, which holds that "situations we define as real become real in their consequences. They
also developed the closely related idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy, an expectation that
helps to cause what it predicts.
- Our analysis of the hidden curriculum suggests that the expectations of working-class
and racial-minority students often act as self-fulfilling prophecies. Expecting to achieve little if
they play by the rules, they reject the rules and so achieve little.
-Self-fulfilling prophecies also work for teachers that develop expectations that help to
cause what they predict. Teachers expected one group to do well and the other to do poorly on
the test, the researchers concluded that teachers' expectations alone influenced students'
performance. The clear implication of this research is that if a teacher believes that poor or
minority group children are likely to do poorly in school, chances are they will. That is because