socialization is the process by which people learn their culture and do so by
1. entering and disengaging from a succession of roles
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.
study conducted by René Spitz (1945, 1962). Spitz compared babies raised in an orphanage with
babies who were being raised in a prison nursing home
Biology sets the broad limits of human potential.
Socialization determines the extent to which human potential is realized.
Theories of Childhood Socialization
self —a set of ideas and attitudes about who they are as independent beings.
Sigmund Freud proposed the first social-scientific interpretation of the process by which the
He noted that infants demand immediate gratification but begin to form a self-image when
their demands are denied
Freud argued that only social interaction allows the self to emerge.
Cooley's Symbolic Interactionism
Charles Horton Cooley introduced the idea of the “looking-glass self,”
he is a founder of the symbolic interactionist tradition and an early contributor to the
sociological study of socialization.
we see our social selves reflected in people's gestures and reactions to us
George Herbert Mead (1934) developed the idea of the looking-glass self
subjective and impulsive aspect of the self is present from birth. Mead called it simply the I
Mead's Four Stages of Development: Role Taking
Mead saw the self as developing in four stages of role taking:
1. At first, children learn to use language and other symbols by imitating important people in their
lives, such as their mother and father. Mead called such people significant others .
2. Next, children pretend to be other people. That is, they use their imaginations to roleplay in games
such as “house,” “school,” and “doctor.”
3. Then, about the time they reach the age of seven, children learn to play complex games that
require them to simultaneously take the role of several other people. (example: baseball)
4. Once a child can think in this complex way, she can begin the fourth stage in the development of
the self, which involves taking the role of what Mead called the generalized other- A person's
image of these cultural standards and how they are applied to her is what Mead meant by the
Through socialization, the self develops.
Cooley's “looking glass self” is composed of our reactions to how we imagine others view us.
For Mead, the self develops through a broadening ability to emphasize with significant and
Socialization often produces important gender and cultural differences. How Socialization Works
Humans are continuously surrounded and influenced by real or imagined others, who
constitute a person's social environment . To satisfy individual needs and interests, every
person needs to adapt to his or her environment. Adaptation involves arranging one's
actions to maximize the degree to which an environment satisfies one's needs and
socialization is fundamentally an evolutionary process
1. In any environment, a person acts on the basis of his or her existing personal characteristics
2. The environment responds to the person's actions cooperatively or not
3. The environmental response shapes the individual's conduct by either reinforcing existing
patterns (cooperation) or encouraging change (resistance)
Socialization is an evolutionary process through which groups shape the character and
conduct of individuals.
Theories and Agents of Socialization
Functionalists emphasize how socialization helps to maintain orderly social relations. They
also play down the freedom of choice individuals enjoy in the socialization process.
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