Understanding The Socialization Process
- Sigmund Freud: The Elements of Personality
- Basic Human Needs
- Freud's Model of Personality
- Personality Development
- Jean Piaget: Cognitive Development
- The Sesorimotor Stage
- The Preoperational Stage
- The Concrete Operational Stage
- The Format Operational Stage
- Lawrence Kohlberg: Moral Development
- Carol Gilligan: Bringing in Gender
- George Herbert Mead: The Social Self
- The Self
- The Looking-glass Self
- The I and the Me
- Development of the Self
- Erik H. Erikson: Eight Stages of Development
- Agents of Socialization
- The Family
- The Peer Group
- The Mass Media
- Socialization and the Life Course
- Early Adulthood
- Middle Adulthood
- Old Age
- The Life Course: An Overview
- Resocialization: Total Institutions
- Key Concepts
- Critical-Thinking Questions
- Applications and Exercises
- Sites to See
PART II: LEARNING OBJECTIVES
- To understand the "nature-nurture" debate regarding socialization and personality development
- To become aware of the effects of social isolation on humans and other primates
- To become aware of the key components of Sigmund Freud's model of personality
- To be able to identify and describe the four stages of Jean Piaget's cognitive development theory
- To be able to identify and describe the stages of moral development as identified by Lawrence Kohlberg
- To analyze Carol Gilligan's critique of Kohlberg's moral development model
- To be able to identify and describe the stages of personality development as outlined by Erik Erikson
- To consider the contributions of George Herbert Mead to the understanding of personality development
- To be able to compare the spheres of socialization (family, school, and so on) in terms of their effects on an individual's
- To develop a life-course perspective of the socialization experience
- To begin to understand the cross-cultural and historical patterns of death and dying as part of the life course
- To be able to discuss the sociological perspective on socialization as a constraint to freedom
PART III: CHAPTER REVIEW: KEY POINTS
SOCIAL EXPERIENCE: THE KEY TO OUR HUMANITY
The chapter begins with the story of Anna,
a young girl who was raised devoid of meaningful
social experience. Kingsley Davis, a sociologist, studied the six-year-old girl, and described her as being more an object than a person. What Anna was deprived of was socialization,
or the lifelong social experience by which individuals develop human
potential and learn patterns of their culture. Socialization
is the foundation of personality, referring to a
person's fairly consistent patterns of acting, thinking, and feeling.
HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: NATURE AND NURTURE
Charles Darwin: The Role of Nature Naturalists during the later nineteenth century,
applying Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, claimed that all
human behavior was instinctive.
The Social Sciences: The Role of Nurture In the early part of this century, psychologist John
Watson challenged this perspective and developed an approach called
behaviorism, claiming that all human behavior was learned
within particular social environments and rooted in nurture.
The work of anthropologists illustrating the great cultural variation
existing around the world supports Watson's view. Contemporary
sociologists do not argue that biology plays no role in shaping
human behavior. The current position among sociologists is that
nature and nurture are not so much in opposition as they are inseparable.
Effects of Social Isolation on Nonhuman Primates Classic research by Harry and Margaret Harlow using
rhesus monkeys has illustrated the importance of social
interaction for other primates besides humans. Using various experimental
situations with "artificial" mothers for infant monkeys
they determined that while physical development occurred within
normal limits, emotional development and social growth failed
to occur. Monkeys who experienced short-term isolation (three months
or less) recovered to normal emotional levels after rejoining
other monkeys. Long-term separation appears to have irreversible
Effects of Social Isolation on Children The cases of Anna, Isabelle, and Genie, all of whom
suffered years of isolation and neglect as young children,
are reviewed. While humans are resilient creatures, extreme social
isolation results in irreversible damage to emotional, cognitive,
and behavioral domains of personality development.
UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
Sigmund Freud: The Elements of Personality Sigmund Freud's most important contribution was the
development of psychoanalysis.
Basic Human Needs Freud (1856-1939) saw biological factors as having a
significant influence on personality, although not in the form of simple instincts. He claimed
humans had two basic needs. One he labeled eros, or a need
for bonding. Another he called the death instinct, or thanatos,
which related to an aggressive drive.
Freud's Model of Personality Freud's perspective combined both these basic needs
and the influence of society into a unique model of personality.
He argued the personality is composed of three parts. One is
the id, rooted in biology and representing the
human being's basic drives, which are unconscious and demand
immediate satisfaction. Another, representing a person's conscious
efforts to balance innate pleasure-seeking drives with demands
of society, he labeled the ego. Finally, the
human personality develops a superego which is the
operation of culture within the individual in the form of internalized
values and norms. There is basic conflict between the id and
the superego which the ego must continually try to manage. If
the conflict is not adequately resolved personality disorders
Personality Development Culture controls human drives in a process Freud called repression. Often a compromise between society
and the individual is struck, where fundamentally selfish drives
are redirected into socially acceptable objectives. This process
is called sublimation.
While controversial, Freud's work highlights the internalization of social norms and the importance of childhood experiences in the socialization process and the development of
Jean Piaget: Cognitive Development Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a prominent psychologist whose work centered on human cognition, how people think and understand. He was concerned with not just what a person knew,
but how a person made sense of the world. He identified four major stages
of cognitive development which he believed were tied to biological
maturation as well as social experience.
The Sensorimotor Stage The sensorimotor stage is described
as the level of development in which individuals experience
the world only through sensory contact. This stage lasts for
about the first two years of life.
The Preoperational Stage The preoperational stage was described
by Piaget as the level of development in which individuals
first use language and other symbols. This stage extends from
the age of two to the age of six. Children continue to be very
egocentric during this time, having little ability to generalize
The Concrete Operational Stage The third stage in Piaget's model is called the concrete
operational stage and is described as the level of development
at which individuals first perceive causal connections in their surroundings.
This period typically covers the ages of seven to eleven. The
ability to take the perspective of other people emerges during
The Formal Operational Stage The fourth stage is the formal operational
stage and is described as the level of development
at which individuals think abstractly and critically. This stage
begins about age twelve. The ability to think in hypothetical
terms is also developed.
Piaget viewed the human mind as active and creative.
Research now is focusing on the cross-cultural relevance of this
model and to what extent males and females develop differently
through these stages. Further, some evidence suggests that almost
one-third of the adults in the U.S. do not reach stage four.
Lawrence Kohlberg: Moral Development Lawrence Kohlberg identifies three stages of moral
development: preconventional, conventional,
and postconventional. In the first stage moral reasoning
is tied to feelings of pleasure and avoidance of pain. In the
second stage, specific cultural norms dominate moral reasoning.
In the third stage more abstract ethical principles are involved.
Many of the same criticisms raised about Piaget's
model apply to Kohlberg's work. Also, he used only males in his
research, preventing generalization of his results to all people.
Carol Gilligan: Bringing In Gender Carol Gilligan's research focuses on a systematic
comparison of moral development for females and males. Her work
indicates that the moral reasoning of girls and boys is different.
Girls tend to use a care and responsibility perspective,
while boys tend to use a justice perspective. An important
question is whether the differences are the result of nature or
George Herbert Mead: The Social Self Questions such as What exactly is social experience?
and, How does social experience enhance our humanity? were central
to his research on the socialization process. George Herbert Mead's
analysis is often referred to as social behaviorism.
The Self Mead understood the basis of humanity to be the self, a
dimension of personality composed of an individual's self-awareness
and self-image. For Mead, the self was a totally social phenomenon,
inseparable from society. The connection between the two was explained
in a series of steps--the emergence of the self through social
experience, based on the exchange of symbolic interaction,
and occurring within a context in which people take the role
of the other, or take their point of view into account during
social interaction. A fourth argument of Mead's was that people
become self-reflective in this process of taking the role
of the other.
The Looking-Glass Self The process of taking the role of the other can be
more clearly seen using Charles Horton Cooley's concept of the
looking-glass self--or the self-image we have
based on how we suppose others perceive us.
The I and the Me An important dualism is suggested by Mead's idea
that the self thinks about itself. The two components include:
(1) the self as subject by which we initiate social action--the
I, and (2) the self as object, or objective part, concerned with
how we perceive ourselves from the perspective of others--the
Development of the Self Mead minimized the importance of biology in personality
development. The key was social experience, not maturation. Mead saw infants as responding to others only in terms of imitation, or mimicking behavior without understanding. As the use of symbols
emerges the child enters a play stage in which role-taking
occurs. Initially, the roles are modeled after significant
others, especially parents. Through further social experience
children enter the game stage where the simultaneous playing
of many roles is possible. The final stage involves the development
of a generalized other, or the general cultural norms and
values shared by us and others that we use as a point of reference in evaluating ourselves.
Erik H. Erikson: Eight Stages Of Development
Compared to the previous theorists, Erik Erikson
(1902-1994) offered a broader view of socialization, believing
personality changes throughout the life course. The stages he
According to Erikson, gaining success at one
stage sets the stage for happily resolving the challenge of the
next stage. Critics suggest not everyone confronts these challenges
in this exact order. It is also not clear whether failure at one
stage negatively affects the next stage.
- Infancy: the challenge of trust (versus mistrust)
- Toddlerhood: the challenge of autonomy (versus shame and doubt)
- Pre-school: the challenge of initiative (versus guilt)
- Pre-adolescence: the challenge of industriousness (versus inferiority)
- Adolescence: the challenge of gaining identity (versus confusion)
- Young Adulthood: the challenge of intimacy (versus isolation)
- Middle Adulthood: the challenge of making a difference (versus self-absorption)
- Old Age: the challenge of integrity (versus despair)
AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION
The Family The family is identified as the most important agent
of socialization. The process of socialization within this institution
is discussed as being both intentional and unconscious. The social
life of the family has been shown to have a considerable bearing
upon the values and orientations children learn.
Schooling It is within the context of school that children
begin to establish contact with people from diverse social
backgrounds. The stated purpose of the school experience
is imparting knowledge in the areas of, math, reading, and so on. However, there exists
a hidden curriculum which also teaches children important
cultural values. Schooling is critical for obtaining the knowledge
and skills necessary for adult roles.
The Peer Group A peer group is a social group whose
members have interests, social position, and age in common.
Some research provides evidence suggesting that the conflict between
parents and their adolescent children is more apparent than real.
A major feature operative during adolescence is anticipatory
socialization, or social learning directed toward gaining
a desired position.
The Mass Media The mass media are impersonal communications
directed to a vast audience. This includes television, newspapers,
radio, and so on.
SOCIALIZATION AND THE LIFE COURSE
While focus is given to childhood, the significance
of socialization is lifelong. Social experience is viewed in this
section as being structured during different stages of the life
Childhood In industrial societies, childhood lasts roughly the first twelve years. It is a period characterized by freedom from responsibilities.
Some historians suggest that in medieval Europe,
childhood as we know it did not exist. Such research is used to
suggest that childhood is far from just being an issue of biological
Adolescence The adolescent period emerged as a distinct
life course stage during industrialization. This period corresponds
roughly to the teen years. The emotional and social turmoil often
associated with this stage appear to be the result of inconsistencies
in the socialization process as opposed to being based on physical
changes. Examples concerning sexuality, voting, and drinking are
discussed to illustrate these inconsistencies.
Adulthood Adulthood begins somewhere
between the late teens and early thirties, depending on social
background. The concept of "midlife crisis" is discussed
using Eleanor Roosevelt to illustrate.
Early Adulthood Early adulthood is the
period between age twenty and forty. Breaking free from parents, establishing
an intimate relationship with a mate, parenthood, and employment
are all typical experiences during this period. Many conflicting
priorities are often juggled.
Middle Adulthood Middle adulthood, roughly
ages forty to sixty, is a period during which people begin to
sense that their life circumstances are pretty well set. The assessment
of actual achievement compared to earlier expectations occurs.
Differences in the experience of middle adulthood for women and
men are discussed, including issues involving family, work, and
Old Age This period begins during the mid-60s. The proportion
of the U.S. population over the age of sixty-five over the course
of this century has increased dramatically.
Dying Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has written extensively on
the process of death as an orderly transition involving five distinct stages--denial, anger,
negotiation, resignation, and acceptance.
The Life Course: An Overview The author makes three general conclusions: (1) although
linked to the biological process of aging, the essential characteristics
of each stage of socialization are constructions of society; (2)
each period provides different problems and transitions; and (3)
the process varies by social background, race, ethnicity, and
sex. A key concept identified is cohort, referring
to a category of people with a common characteristic, usually
RESOCIALIZATION: TOTAL INSTITUTIONS
A total institution is a setting
in which individuals are isolated from the rest of society and
manipulated by an administrative staff. Erving Goffman has
identified three distinct qualities of total institutions: (1)
they control all aspects of the daily lives of the residents;
(2) they subject residents to standardized activities; and (3)
they apply formal rules and rigid scheduling to all activities.
This structure is designed to achieve the policy of resocialization--or radically altering an inmate's personality through deliberate manipulation of the environment. The process of institutionalization often
occurs whereby residents become dependent on the structure of
the institution and are unable to function outside the institution.