Socialization is the process of learning about and adopting the social norms and values of society. It primarily happens through social and cultural immersion in childhood and the assimilation of migrants.
Examples of socialization include learning about gender norms, learning about cultural taboos, and learning appropriate manners.
Socialization enables intergenerational reproduction of cultural and social values, but also the continuation of damaging and marginalizing beliefs within a culture.
Social norms are shared standards of acceptable behavior within a given group (Lapinski & Rimal, 2005). Socialization is how social and cultural continuity is attained (Clausen, 1968 & Macionis, 2013, p. 126).
According to some functionalists, the socialization of children and the provision of intergenerational continuity are some of the most vital functions of family structures (Durkheim, 1888/2002 & Turner, 2006, pp. 189-195).
Sociologists differentiate many different types of socialization. Examples of socialization include primary, secondary, anticipatory, organizational, group, gender, racial, oppression, language, planned, natural, positive, negative, and political socialization.
- Primary socialization – Primary socialization occurs when a child learns the attitudes, values, and behaviors appropriate to members of a given society. It is mainly influenced by the people the child spends the most time with.
- Secondary socialization – Secondary socialization occurs when an individual learns what is appropriate to a member of a small group within a larger society.
- Anticipatory socialization – Anticipatory socialization occurs when individuals learn to adopt the values and standards of a group they aspire to join.
- Resocialization – Resocialization occurs when individuals discard their former behavior patterns and take on new ones.
- Organizational socialization – Organizational socialization occurs when an employee learns the knowledge and skills necessary to assume their organizational role.
- Group socialization – Group socialization occurs when individuals take on the values and standards of their peer group instead of adopting the values and standards of parental figures (Harris, 1995).
- Gender socialization – Gender socialization is the process of teaching individuals how to behave according to the societal expectations of their gender. Gender socialization is the process by which boys learn to demonstrate masculinity and girls learn to demonstrate femininity (Naples, 2020, p. 216).
- Racial socialization – Racial socialization occurs when a child acquires the behaviors, perceptions, values, and attitudes of an ethnic group and comes to see themselves and others as members of that group (Rotherman & Phinney, 1987, pp. 10-28).
- Oppression socialization – Oppression socialization occurs when an individual develops an understanding of structures of oppression, particularly of power and political structures and their influence on perceptions of identity, and opportunities relative to gender, race, and sexuality (Glasberg & Shannon, 2011, p. 47).
- Language socialization – All children get socialized to and through the use of language. When children acquire language, they also adopt cultural norms. When children adopt cultural norms, they also adopt the norms of the use of language (Schieffelin & Ochs, 1987).
- Planned socialization – Planned socialization occurs when other people take actions to teach others. This type of socialization can take on many forms and can occur at any point in an individual’s life.
- Natural socialization – Natural socialization occurs when infants and young children explore and discover their social world. While planned socialization is mostly a human phenomenon, natural socialization can be observed in almost all mammals.
- Positive socialization – Positive socialization occurs when desired behaviors are accompanied by pleasurable or exciting experiences.
- Negative socialization – Negative socialization occurs when unwanted behavior gets punished through force, criticism, or anger.
- Political socialization – Political socialization occurs when an individual internalizes a political lens through which they begin to see power and how the world is and should be organized (Glasberg & Shannon, 2011, p. 56).
- Educational socialization – The education system teaches the values and norms of a society through both overt socialization and a more subtle process referred to as the hidden curriculum.
- Media socialization – Media is one of the strongest agents of socialization. With the increasing polarization of media, people often fall into media bubbles that only share one-sided and heavily biased points of view.
- Religious socialization – When a child is raised attending religious celebrations, going to weekly worship, and hearing stories from a religion, they become socialized into the religious beliefs and values.
Primary socialization occurs when a child learns the attitudes, values, and behaviors appropriate to members of a given society.
It is mainly influenced by the people the child spends the most time with. This process starts with family and friends. The child learns what is or is not acceptable in that society. Primary socialization teaches children how to bond, communicate, create relationships, understand others, and so on (Whitbeck, 1999).
Agents of primary socialization include the family, childhood friends, the education system, social media, and any other persons or institutions the child might be exposed to.
It is through primary socialization that children learn how to behave in public or at home and eventually learn how they should behave under different circumstances. This second step is known as secondary socialization (Kelly & Donohew, 1999).
Anticipatory socialization occurs when individuals learn to adopt the values and standards of a group they aspire to join.
Individuals do this to ease their entry into the group. This process involves changes in one’s behavior, attitudes, beliefs, values, and so on in preparation for a shift in one’s role. Anticipatory socialization can be further divided into two categories: vocational and organizational anticipatory socialization.
Examples of vocational anticipatory socialization occur in educational institutions, friend groups, workplaces, and so on.
Organizational anticipatory socialization, as the name suggests, occurs when individuals develop expectations about their prospective careers and change their behavior accordingly (Jablin & Putnam, 2001).
Organizational socialization, also known as onboarding, occurs when an employee learns the knowledge and skills necessary to assume their organizational role.
It is the mechanism through which new employees and interns learn the necessary skills and behaviors to become members of an organization (Bauer & Erdogan, 2011, pp. 51-64).
This process is also known as induction or training. It can be put into motion with the help of formal meetings, lectures, videos, and other tools. Organizational socialization often leads to positive outcomes for employees, such as higher job satisfaction and reduced stress (Fisher, 1985 & Ashford & Black, 1996).
Socialization theory has a lot to contribute to our understanding of gender role acquisition. Gender socialization is the process of teaching individuals how to behave according to the societal expectations of their gender.
Gender socialization is the process by which boys learn to demonstrate masculinity and girls learn to demonstrate femininity (Naples, 2020, p. 216). Children are taught societal rules and norms for specific genders. These norms, also known as gender roles, outline what is expected from males and females.
Parental expectations for their child are set by their gender. For example, parents are more likely to engage with their sons in rough physical play than with their daughters.
Parents influence children’s behavior and thinking at home, which then goes into the real world, where the child is exposed to an environment that reinforces such ideas and beliefs (Witt, 1997).
Political socialization occurs when individuals internalize a political lens through which they begin to see power and how the world is and should be organized.
This process also encompasses how people acquire those values which determine their political stance and ideology.
Families, the media, friends, schools, religions, and other institutions influence and shape people’s political norms and values (Glasberg & Shannon, 2011, p. 56).
For example, if someone watches Fox News all day every day, they’re likely to fall into a political bubble and be socialized into a right-wing ideology over time.
Socialization is the process of internalizing the social norms and values of a given society. It is, therefore, nothing less than essential to the survival of most societies. It is the process that enables intergenerational social and cultural continuity. Socialization influences people’s behavior, beliefs, values, attitudes, and actions.
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