THE CONCEPT OF SOCIALIZATION
When we are born are we the "tabula-rasa," or blank slate
of the mind, upon which experience writes?
James Flynn (author/researcher) studies IQ,
a characteristic of humans widely agreed upon to be substantially influenced by
our genes. He has noted that over the last four generations, particularly
in the developing world, IQ scores have been increasing. To what do we
attribute such change?
The Flynn effect "must be attributed to environmental factors
because the gene pool cannot possibly have changed appreciably over the time
period involved. The environmental effects are the result of the increase
in the complexity of the modern world and of better nutrition and pre- and
postnatal care" (Walsh and Ellis, 2007, p. 171).
Biology gives us a slate upon which some
things are already written (we might call these "traits") but much of
that slate remains to be written on and so we have a fascinating area in
Sociology to study ---- Childhood Socialization and Socialization throughout
the Life Course.
Before going any further though, let's visit
this recent news article ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24482257/
Socialization - The
lifelong process of social interaction
and learning through which a child learns the intellectual, physical, and social
skills needed to function as a member of society.
As a lifelong process, socialization takes place in
many social settings (e.g., family, school, peer groups, mass media, religion
Socialization contributes to the formation of personality
(i.e., the patterns of behavior and ways of thinking and feeling that are
distinctive for each individual) and ultimately a sense of self (a
changing but enduring dimension of personality composed of an individual's self awareness and
self-image that develops via socialization. George Herbert Mead defined self as
the individual's active awareness of existing as a distinct object in the midst
Babies in the palm of your hand! Biologically
wired for sensory stimulation and experience, babies are ready to learn
the culture of their group.
When homo-sapiens have experiences they learn from these
and such experiences form a foundation from which to draw in future social
interactions. We should always be aware that the new homo-sapien is not
entering into a social vacuum. A culture is present that predated the new
and it will provide for him/her a language which, when learned, will open the
cultural framework that will in turn surround and shape the individual.
It is through socialization and the learning
of cultural values, norms, attitudes, and roles, that the
homo-sapien becomes more human and less animal.
Are you comfortable with thinking of babies as more animal than human?
Fundamental to a healthy start in the
socialization process is development of attachment
human relationships where meaningful interaction and emotional bonding develop
between the significant other [the adult] and neophyte [the child]).
THE CONCEPT OF SELF
It is widely assumed that positive socialization
experiences will lead to the development of a healthy personality/self and the
individual's identification of him/herself as a distinct individual separate
from other people and things.
The self however takes time and social experience to
develop, as it is a product of many social interactions and the identification
of statuses (i.e., culturally defined social positions that we occupy as
we interact with others) with those interactions. Also, and perhaps most
importantly, it takes experiences for young children to recognize that other
people have a distinct self beyond that of teacher, pastor, mother or father, brother and sister.
Related to the emergence of the self are statuses. It is
thought that through one's occupancy of a statuses, self-identity or social identity emerges (the total of
all the statuses that define an individual). Self or social-identity will, by
default, change over time since we move into and away from statuses throughout our
lifetime. This movement brings us to and away from interactions with others and
membership in particular social groups. Thus, THE SELF IS IN A CONTINUAL
PROCESS OF BECOMING attributable to our interactions and the many
self-identities we have.
What are some examples from your own childhood that helped shape
your sense of self?
How can people whose self-images are excessively negative
or inaccurate attempt to remedy these problems? How effective do you believe
such efforts to be?
DEVELOPMENT OF SELF
To understand human
development, behavior and the emergence of self, we must address the various
dimensions of self. It is widely acknowledged that following elements of
self must develop early in a child's life:
- how people think and understand the world around them.
is particularly respected for his work in the area of cognitive development and
he argued that this type of development through four stages was essential to the
emergence of a person who can functional normally in society.
Stage - the level of cognitive development (birth to age 2) where
individuals experience the world only through sensory contact (e.g.,
touching, tasting, sucking). They have the ability to mimic, perhaps
using the word truck after hearing it, but they do not know what the
Stage - the level of cognitive development (2 to 7 years) at which
individuals first use language and other symbols. Kids here know the
meaning of symbols/language at a rudimentary level but cannot grasp
abstract concepts such as beauty, size, or weight. Kids do not seem
able to see the world from another's point of view.
Calvin so clearly expresses preoperational level
thought. I can't speak for his tiger but I always thought Hobbes was
pretty wise, capable of seeing the world from another's point of view.
Operational Stage - the level of cognitive development (age 7 to 11)
at which individuals perceive causal connections in their surroundings.
They may also begin to understand that symbols can represent many things
but they may not be able to grasp abstract concepts.
Operational Stage - the level of cognitive development (after age 11)
at which individuals think abstractly and imagine themselves occupying
statuses and explaining why they want to occupy such statuses.
Central here is understanding and thinking in abstract terms.
- Every society has a moral order - a shared view of right and wrong.
The process of socialization must include teaching people what the moral order
particular to their society is and concern about what might happen to one if
they violate the moral order.
derived a three-level, six-stage model of moral development:
model of moral development revolves around three levels and six stages (though
the last stage was never empirically demonstrated).
Kohlberg assumed not everyone
progresses through the stages of moral development. If an individual stops
development at the early stages, their definitions of right and wrong are
limited to what avoids punishment or what is in their best interests.
In sum, they have not developed a
proper social conscience. Thus incomplete moral development produces
criminal and other anti-social conduct.
(what is right and moral is what feels good at the time)
and punishment (people abide by norms because they are told
to by authority figures and because they fear
instrumentalism and exchange (people abide by norms and do the
"right" thing because they see such behavior as supportive of their
own best interests)
(most generally held level in society where right and wrong and moral
development is based on what pleases parents and what is consistent with
broader cultural norms)
boy/girls" (people abide by the norms so at to obtain
social approval from others)
and order (people abide by the norms out of a sense
(not reached by the majority of adults. Here, in their analysis or
morality, people go beyond simply abiding by societal norms to ponder
abstract ethical principles relative to existing and/or future norms)
contract (a genuine interest in the well-being of
others and a recognition of mutual dependency)
hope you all are beginning to see the importance of cognitive and moral
development in the emergence of self but it is absolutely essential that you
understand that the process is occurring in a social sense. It is not
a naturally "Normal" outcome of day-to-day living. The
social groups (i.e., family, siblings, peers, classrooms, neighborhoods,
churches, etc.) to which we are emotionally bonded/attached are central to
this process and Sociologists are committed to understanding how these
groups shape us and how these groups are shaped by larger historical and
let's put all this together and reach out a little to apply what we've
learned by examining a truly life-course approach to socialization. We
will turn our attention now to the work of Erik Erikson.
Erik H. Erikson is one of the first
to clearly conceptualize socialization as a life-long process and to impress
upon our thinking important issues or "crises" of a biological,
psychological, and sociological nature that must be addressed successfully at
each life stage for the self to develop normally..
Erikson reasoned that "crises" were
brought on "by two factors: biological changes in the developing individual
and social expectations and stresses" that are socially constructed.
Resolution of the conflict at these stages is important to a healthy life
throughout the life-course.
Erikson's Eight Stages of Development
to be achieved
(Birth to 1 year
child should develop trust in self, self urges, parents, and those in
the immediate world.
neglect, inconsistent or inappropriate love, early or harsh weaning.
infant's first social achievement, then, is his willingness to let the
mother out sight without undue anxiety or rage, because she has become
an inner certainty as well as an outer predictability" (Erikson,
must not only have certain ways of guiding by prohibition and
permission; they must also be able to represent to the child a deep, an
almost somatic conviction that there is a meaning to what they are
doing" (Erikson, 1963:249).
to 4 years
social environment encourages children to display autonomy and to see
themselves as an individual separate from parental control. This
must be done without creating self-doubt. Erikson (252) notes
"[a]s his environment encourages him to 'stand on his own feet,' it
must protect him against meaningless and arbitrary experiences of shame
and of early doubt".
of early experience or freedom, undue use of shame, growing self-doubt.
stage, therefore, becomes decisive for the ratio of love and hate,
cooperation and willfulness, freedom and self-expression and its
suppression. From a sense of self-control without loss of
self-esteem comes a lasting sense of good will and pride; from a sense
of loss of self-control and of foreign overcontrol comes a lasting
propensity for doubt and shame" (254).
child learns to direct their activities toward the purposeful control of
and completion of many adult-like tasks.
sum, the child sees a future consequence in their activity.
discipline from adults and internalization of ethics unchallengeable
given the child's level of cognitive develop- ment. In their
desire to meet with social approval, children may be negatively
sanctioned for their "exuberant enjoyment of new locomotor and
mental power" (255).
initiative is a necessary part of every act, and man needs a sense of
initiative for whatever he learns and does, from fruit-gathering to a
system of enterprise" (255).
here we note that...the child is at no time more ready to learn quickly
and avidly, to become bigger in the sense of sharing obligations and
performance than during this period of his development" (258).
to onset of puberty
of a sense of industriousness and deriving pleasure from task completion
and use of new tools.
is further enhanced by the child's ability to work with others and
achieve status recognition from them.
sense of inadequacy or inferiority stemming from a lack of skills
necessary to complete tasks, excessive competition and failure to gain
has experienced a sense of finality regarding the fact that there is no
workable future within the womb of his family, and thus becomes ready to
apply himself to given skills and tasks..." (259)
"To bring a productive
situation to completion is an aim which gradually supersedes the whims
and wishes of play" (259)
"Many a child's
development is disrupted when family life has failed to prepare him for
school life, or when school life fails to sustain the promises of
earlier stages" (260)
vs. Role Confusion
sense of self identity developed from identification with one's
abilities and aptitudes as well as personal confidence that one's past
and present hold promise for the future.
danger of this stage is a sense of role confusion stemming from a lack
of role models.
from desired interactions with peers is also deleterious.
are "concerned with what they appear to be in the eyes of others as
compared with what they feel they are, and with the question of how to
connect the roles and skills cultivated earlier with the occupational
prototypes of the day" (261)
intolerance of some peers because of their dress, race, ethnicity, or
social class is treated by Erikson as a "defense against a sense of
identity confusion" (262).
of intimacy found in the ability to establish and maintain close
personal relationships with others.
problems in the earlier stages make it difficult to establish such
affirming and close relationships with others.
young adult, emerging from the search for and the insistence on
identity, is eager and willing to fuse his identity with that of others.
He is ready...to commit himself to concrete affiliations and
partnerships and to develop the ethical strength to abide by such
commitments, even though they may call for significant sacrifices and
of productivity and creativity resulting from work and parenting
of stagnation produced by feeling inadequate as a parent, spouse, and/or
of ego-integrity achieved by acceptance of the life one has lived.
of despair and dissatisfaction with one's role as a senior member of
It has been my
pleasure to be here today. Please don't hesitate to call or e-mail me if
you have any questions about my discipline, what my colleagues and I do at the
Department of Sociology at UNA. In fact, don't hesitate to contact me if
you have any questions or curiosity about attending UNA.