The term socialization is used by sociologists, social psychologists and educationalists to refer to the process of learning one’s culture and how to live within it. For the individual it provides the skills and habits necessary for acting and participating within their society. For the society, inducting all individual members into its moral norms, attitudes, values, motives, social roles, language and symbols is the ‘means by which social and cultural continuity are attained’ (Clausen 1968: 5).
On the one hand, it prepares the individual for the roles he is to play, providing him with the necessary repertoire of habits, beliefs, and values, the appropriate patterns of emotional response and the modes of perception, the requisite skills and knowledge. On the other hand, by communicating the contents of culture from one generation to the other, it provides for its persistence and continuity. (Chinoy, 1961: 75)For many reasons – not least his excessive approval of modern American life as the model social system and his inability to see how gender, race and class divisions discriminated against individuals in ways that were unjustifiable – Parsonian functionalism faded in popularity in the 1970s. Reacting to the functionalist notion of socialization English sociologist Graham White, writing in 1977 said:
… it is no longer enough to focus on the malleability and passivity of the individual in the face of all powerful social influences. Without some idea about the individual’s own activity in shaping his social experience our perspective of socialisation becomes distorted. (White 1977: 5).During the last quarter of the twentieth century the concept of ‘socialization’ has been much less central to debates in sociology that have shifted their focus from identifying the functions of institutions and systems to describing the cultural changes of postmodernity. But the idea of socialization has lived on, particularly in debates about the family and education. The institutions of the family or the school are often blamed for their failure to socialize individuals who go on to transgress social norms. On the other hand, it is through a critique of functionalist ideas about socialization that there has been an increasing acceptance of a variety of family forms, of gender roles and an increasing tolerance of variations in the ways people express their social identity.
Primary socialization Primary socialization is the process whereby the people make a child learn the attitudes, values, and actions appropriate to individuals as members of a particular culture.
For example if a child saw his/her mother expressing a discriminatory opinion about a minority group, then that child may think this behavior is acceptable and could continue to have this opinion about minority groups.
Secondary socialization Secondary socialization refers to the process of learning what is appropriate behavior as a member of a smaller group within the larger society. It is usually associated with teenagers and adults, and involves smaller changes than those occurring in primary socialization. eg. entering a new profession, relocating to a new environment or society.
Developmental socialization Developmental socialization is the process of learning behavior in a social institution or developing your social skills.
Anticipatory socialization Anticipatory socialization refers to the processes of socialization in which a person "rehearses" for future positions, occupations, and social relationships.
Resocialization Resocialization refers to the process of discarding former behavior patterns and accepting new ones as part of a transition in one's life. This occurs throughout the human life cycle (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 113). Resocialization can be an intense experience, with the individual experiencing a sharp break with their past, and needing to learn and be exposed to radically different norms and values. An example might be the experience of a young man or woman leaving home to join the military.
Later scholars accused these theorists of socialization of not recognising the importance of the mass media which, by the middle of the twentieth century were becoming more significant as a social force. There was concern about the link between television and the education and socialization of children – it continues today – but when it came to adults, the mass media were regarded merely as sources of information and entertainment rather than moulders of personality. According to these scholars, they were wrong to overlook the importance of mass media in continuing to transmit the culture to adult members of society.
In the middle of the twentieth century the pace of cultural change was accelerating, yet Parsons and others wrote of culture as something stable into which children needed to be introduced but which adults could simply live within. As members of society we need to continually refresh our ‘repertoire of habits, beliefs, and values, the appropriate patterns of emotional response and the modes of perception, the requisite skills and knowledge’ as Chinoy (1961: 75) put it.
Some sociologists and theorists of culture have recognised the power of mass communication as a socialization device. Dennis McQuail recognises the argument:
… the media can teach norms and values by way of symbolic reward and punishment for different kinds of behaviour as represented in the media. An alternative view is that it is a learning process whereby we all learn how to behave in certain situations and the expectations which go with a given role or status in society. Thus the media are continually offering pictures of life and models of behaviour in advance of actual experience. (McQuail 2005: 494)
Goffman lists four characteristics of such institutions:
Resocialization is a sociological concept dealing with the process of mentally and emotionally "re-training" a person so that he or she can operate in an environment other than that which he or she is accustomed to. Resocialization into a total institution involves a complete change of personality. Key examples include the process of resocializing new recruits into the military so that they can operate as soldiers (or, in other words, as members of a cohesive unit) and the reverse process, in which those who have become accustomed to such roles return to society after military discharge.
Socializing cats older than six months can be very difficult. It is often said that they cannot be socialized. This is not true, but the process takes two to four years of diligent food bribes and handling, and mostly on the cat's terms. Eventually the cat may be persuaded to be comfortable with humans and the indoor environment.
Kittens learn to be feral either from their mothers or through bad experiences. They are more easily socialized when under six months of age. Socializing is done by keeping them confined in a small room (ie. bathroom) and handling them for 3 or more hours each day. There are three primary methods for socialization, used individually or in combination. The first method is to simply hold and pet the cat, so it learns that such activities are not uncomfortable. The second is to use food bribes. The final method is to distract the cat with toys while handling them. The cat may then be gradually introduced to larger spaces. It is not recommended to let the cat back outside because that may cause it to revert to its feral state. The process of socialization often takes three weeks to three months for a kitten.
Animal shelters either foster feral kittens to be socialized or kill them outright. The feral adults are usually killed or euthanized, due to the large time commitment, but some shelters and vets will spay or neuter and vaccinate a feral cat and then return it to the wild.
A mother's attitude and tolerance of her puppies will change as they grow older and become more active. For this reason most experts today recommend leaving puppies with their mother until at least 8 to 10 weeks of age. This gives them a chance to experience a variety of interactions with their mother, and to observe her behavior in a range of situations.
It is critical that human interaction takes place frequently and calmly from the time the puppies are born, from simple, gentle handling to the mere presence of humans in the vicinity of the puppies, performing everyday tasks and activities. As the puppies grow older, socialization occurs more readily the more frequently they are exposed to other dogs, other people, and other situations. Dogs who are well socialized from birth, with both dogs and other species (especially people) are much less likely to be aggressive or to suffer from fear-biting.