Chapter 5. Socialization

Chapter 5 Resources and Activities

Key Terms

adolescence: A period stretching from puberty to about 18-years-old characterized by the role adjustment from childhood to adulthood.

agency: The ability to choose and act independently of external constraints.

anticipatory socialization: When people prepare for future life roles.

degradation ceremony: The process by which new members of a total institution lose aspects of their old identity and are given new ones.

doing gender: The way people perform tasks based on assigned gender scripts and gendered feedback from significant others.

epigenetics: The study of variations in gene expression under the impact of environmental influences.

game stage: The stage in child development in which children begin to recognize and interact with particular others on the basis of fixed norms and roles.

gender schema: A cognitive picture or abstraction delineating the difference between gender categories that people utilize to guide their behavior and information processing.

generalized other: The common behavioural expectations of general society.

hidden curriculum: The informal teaching done in schools that socializes children to societal norms.

I and me: The two components or phases of the self-reflective self.

interaction ritual: An activity in a bounded situation where there is a mutual focus of attention and a shared emotional experience.

liquid modernity: The fluid and transitory nature of late modern life, which is increasingly fragmented and cut into a succession of ill-connected episodes.

looking glass self: The self or self-image that arises as the reaction to the judgement of others.

mass media: The distribution of impersonal information to a wide audience via television, newspapers, radio, and the internet.

moral career: A standard sequence of changes in a person’s moral capacity to be answerable for their actions.

moral development: The way people learn what is “good” and “bad” in society.

nature: The influence of genetic makeup on self development.

nurture: The role that social environment plays in self development.

peer group: A group made up of people who are similar in age and social status and who share interests.

play stage: A time when children begin to episodically imitate and take on roles that another person might have.

preparatory stage: A time when children are only capable of imitation and have no ability to imagine how others see things.

resocialization: The process by which old behaviours are removed and new behaviours are learned in their place.

rite of passage: A ritual that marks a life cycle transition from a previous status to a new status.

role conflict: When one or more of an individual’s social roles clash.

self: A person’s distinct sense of identity as developed through social interaction.

social expectation: Internalized social norms that define what people should do when they occupy a social role in society.

social role: The behaviour expected of a person who occupies a particular position.

socialization: The process wherein people come to understand societal norms and expectations, to accept society’s beliefs, and to be aware of societal values.

stages of child socialization: The four stages of child development (preparatory, play, game, and generalized other) in which the child develops the capacity to assume social roles.

symbolic interactionism: A theoretical perspective that focuses on the relationship of individuals within society by studying their communication (language, gestures, and symbols).

total institution: An institution in which members are required to live in isolation from the rest of society.

Section Summary

5.1 Theories of Self Development
Psychological theories of self development have been broadened by sociologists who explicitly study the role of society and social interaction in self development. Charles Cooley and George Mead both contributed significantly to the sociological understanding of the development of self. Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan developed their ideas further, researching how our sense of morality develops. Gilligan added the dimension of gender differences to Kohlberg’s theory. West and Zimmerman present a performative model of doing gender to explain the socialization of gender patterns.

5.2 Why Socialization Matters
Socialization is important because it helps uphold societies and cultures. It is also a key part of individual development and internalization of societal expectations. Research demonstrates that who a person is is affected by both nature (genetic and hormonal makeup) and nurture (the social environment in which a person is raised). Sociology is most concerned with the way that society’s influence affects individual behaviour patterns, which is made clear by the way behaviour varies historically and cross-culturally.

5.3 Agents of Socialization
Direct interactions with social groups, like families and peers, teach children and teenagers how others expect them to behave. Likewise, a society’s formal and informal institutions socialize its population. Schools, workplaces, and the media communicate and reinforce cultural norms and values.

5.4 Socialization Across the Life Course
Socialization is a lifelong process recurring as people enter new phases of life, such as adulthood or old age. Resocialization is a process that removes the socialization people have developed over time and replaces it with newly-learned rules and roles. Because it involves removing old habits that have been built up, resocialization can be a stressful and difficult process. Total institutions are places where the effects of resocialization are felt the greatest.


Quiz: Socialization

5.1 Theories of Self Development

  1. Socialization, as a sociological term, describes:
    1. how states redistribute economic wealth and democratize key sectors of economic activity.
    2. how people learn societal norms, beliefs, and values.
    3. a person’s skill set and interactions when in a group setting.
    4. the scale measuring the difference between introverts and extroverts.
  2. The Harlows’ study on rhesus monkeys showed:
    1. rhesus monkeys raised by other primate species are poorly socialized.
    2. monkeys can be adequately socialized by imitating humans.
    3. food is more important than social comfort.
    4. social comfort is more important than food.
  3. What occurs in Lawrence Kohlberg’s conventional level?
    1. Children develop the ability to have abstract thoughts.
    2. Morality is developed by pain and pleasure.
    3. Children begin to consider what society considers moral and immoral.
    4. Parental beliefs have no influence on children’s morality.
  4. What did Carol Gilligan believe earlier researchers into morality had overlooked?
    1. The justice perspective
    2. Sympathetic reactions to moral situations
    3. The perspective of females
    4. How social environment affects how morality develops
  5. What is one way to distinguish between psychology and sociology?
    1. Psychology focuses on the mind, while sociology focuses on society.
    2. Psychologists are interested in mental health, while sociologists are interested in societal functions.
    3. Psychologists look inward to understand behaviour, while sociologists look outward to understand behaviour.
    4. All of the above.
  6. How did Danielle’s nearly-complete isolation as a child affect her verbal abilities?
    1. She could not communicate at all.
    2. She never learned words, but she did learn signs.
    3. She could not understand much, but she could use gestures.
    4. She could understand and use basic language like “yes” and “no.”

5.2 Why Socialization Matters

  1. Why do sociologists need to be careful when drawing conclusions from twin studies?
    1. The results do not apply to singletons.
    2. The twins were often raised in different ways.
    3. The twins may turn out to be fraternal.
    4. The sample sizes are often small.
  2. From a sociological perspective, which factor does not greatly influence a person’s socialization?
    1. Gender
    2. Class
    3. Blood type
    4. Race
  3. Chris Langan’s story illustrates that:
    1. children raised in one-parent households tend to have higher IQs.
    2. intelligence is more important than socialization.
    3. socialization can be more important than intelligence.
    4. neither socialization nor intelligence affects college admissions.

5.3 Agents of Socialization

  1. Why are wealthy parents more likely than poor parents to socialize their children toward creativity and problem solving?
    1. Wealthy parents are socializing their children toward the skills of white-collar employment.
    2. Wealthy parents are not concerned about their children rebelling against their rules.
    3. Wealthy parents never engage in repetitive tasks.
    4. Wealthy parents are more concerned with money than with a good education.
  2. How do schools prepare children to one day enter the workforce?
    1. With a standardized curriculum
    2. Through a hidden curriculum
    3. By socializing them in teamwork
    4. All of the above
  3. Which one of the following is not a way people are socialized by peers?
    1. Emotional entrainment
    2. Play time
    3. Formal degradation ceremonies
    4. Interaction rituals
  4. Which of the following is a manifest function of schools?
    1. Understanding when to speak up and when to be silent
    2. Learning to read and write
    3. Following a schedule
    4. Knowing locker room etiquette
  5. Which of the following is typically the earliest agent of socialization?
    1. School
    2. Family
    3. Mass media
    4. Zygotes

5.4 Socialization Across the Life Course

  1. Which of the following is not an age-related transition point when Canadians must be socialized to new roles?
    1. Infancy
    2. School age
    3. Adulthood
    4. Senior citizen
  2. Which of the following is true regarding degradation rituals?
    1. They are practiced by bullies in playschool cliques.
    2. They are required in anticipatory socialization in liquid modernity.
    3. They take place when entering prisons, asylums, boarding schools, and the military.
    4. They take place when leaving prisons, asylums, boarding schools, and the military.

[Quiz answers at the end of chapter]

Short Answer

5.1 Theories of Self Development

  1. Think of a question regarding self-development that a sociologist might study. What types of frameworks would the sociologist use, and what research methods might they employ? Now consider the questions and methods a psychologist might use to study the same issue. Comment on their different approaches.
  2. Compare Freud, Cooley, Mead, Kohlberg, Gilligan and West and Zimmerman on theories of self development. How are they similar? How are they different?

5.2 Why Socialization Matters

  1. Why are twin studies an important way to learn about the relative effects of genetics and socialization on children? What questions about human development do you believe twin studies are best for answering? What types of questions would twin studies not be as helpful in answering?
  2. Why do you think that people like Chris Langan continue to have difficulty even after they are helped through societal systems? What is it they have missed that prevents them from functioning successfully in the social world?
  3. How do sociologists reconcile the conformity implied by socialization with the existence of individual uniqueness?

5.3 Agents of Socialization

  1. Do you think it is important that parents discuss gender roles with their young children, or is gender a topic better left for later? How do parents consider gender norms when buying their children books, movies, and toys? How do you believe they should consider it?
  2. Based on your observations, when are adolescents more likely to listen to their parents or to their peer groups when making decisions? What types of dilemmas lend themselves toward one social agent over another?
  3. To what degree have you been influenced by the media in your socialization and self-development?

5.4 Socialization Across the Life Course

  1. Consider a person who is moving into a university residence, or attending university or boarding school, or even a child beginning kindergarten. How is the process the student goes through a form of socialization? What new cultural behaviours must the student adapt to?
  2. Do you think resocialization requires a total institution? Why or why not? Can you think of any other ways someone could be resocialized?
  3. Describe the different aspects of degradation ceremony that Mike Mountain Horse and Daniel Kennedy experienced on entering residential school. How does the colonial nature of residential school distinguish it from other total institutions?

Further Research

5.1 Theories of Self Development
Lawrence Kohlberg was most famous for his research using moral dilemmas. He presented dilemmas to boys and asked them how they would judge the situations. Read about Kohlberg’s most famous moral dilemma, known as the Heinz dilemma.

5.2 Why Socialization Matters
Learn more about five other sets of twins who grew up apart and discovered each other later in life.

5.3 Agents of Socialization
See the controversy surrounding one Canadian couple’s refusal to socialize their child into gender norms.

5.4 Socialization Across the Life Course
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an endemic problem among veterans. Many soldiers leave the military or return from war and have difficulty resocializing into civilian life. Review the data on this 2020 issue of the Federal Framework On Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [PDF] report.


5.0 Introduction to Socialization

DeGregory, L. (2008, July 31). The girl in the window. Tampa Bay Times.

Harlow, H. F. (1958). Fig. 14. Typical response to cloth mother surrogate in fear test [image]. In The nature of love. American Psychologist, 13(12), 673–685.

Harlow, H. F. (1971). Learning to love. Ballantine.

Harlow, H. F., & Kuenne Harlow, M. (1962, November). Social deprivation in monkeys. Scientific American, 137–46.

5.1 Theories of Self Development

Adorno, T., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D., & Sanford, R. (1950). The authoritarian personality. Harper & Brothers.

Bem, S. (1989). Genital knowledge and gender constancyChild Development, 60, 649–662.

Bloom, L. (2011, June 22). How to talk to little girls. The Huffington Post.

Cahill, S. E. (1986). Childhood socialization as recruitment process: Some lessons from the study of gender development. In Adler, P. and P. Adler (Eds.), Sociological studies of child development1, 163–186. JAI Press.

Cooley, C. H. (1902). The looking glass self. In Human Nature and Social Order (pp. 179–185). Scribner’s.

Crisp, T., & Hiller, B. (2011). Is this a boy or a girl: Rethinking sex-role representation in Caldecott Medal-winning picturebooks, 1938–2011. Children’s Literature in Education, 42, 196–212.

Durkheim, É. (2011). Suicide. Routledge. (Original work published 1897.)

Erikson, E. (1963). Childhood and society. W. W. Norton.

Fagot, B. I., Leinbach, M. D., & Hagan, R. (1986). Gender labeling and the adoption of sex-typed behaviorsDevelopmental Psychology, 224(4), 440–443.

Fagot, B. I., & Leinbach, M. D. (1989). The young child’s gender schema: Environmental input, internal organizationChild Development, 60, 663–672.

Freud, S. (2000). Three essays on theories of sexuality. Basic Books. (Original work published 1905.)

Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Harvard University Press.

Gilligan, C. (1990). Making connections: The relational worlds of adolescent girls at Emma Willard School. Harvard University Press.

Haney, P. (2011, June 28). Genderless preschool in SwedenNeatorama.

Kohlberg, L. (1981). The psychology of moral development: The nature and validity of moral stages. Harper and Row.

Lasch, C. (1979). The culture of narcissism: American life in an age of diminishing expectations. W. W. Norton & Co.

Mead, G. H. (1934). In C. W. Morris (Ed.), Mind, self and society. University of Chicago Press.

Moss J. &  O’Connor, P. (2020, July). The dark triad traits predict authoritarian political correctness and alt-right attitudes. Heliyon, 6(7), e04453.

Orenstein, P. (2012). Cinderella ate my daughter. Harper Collins.

Shutts, K., Kenward, B., Falk, H., Ivegran, A., Fawcett, C. (2017). Early preschool environments and gender: Effects of gender pedagogy in Sweden. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 162, 1–17.

West, C, and Zimmerman, D. (1987). Doing gender. Gender and Society. 1(2), 125–151.

5.2 Why Socialization Matters

Brabham, D. (2001, August 21). The smart guy. [PDF] Newsday.

Brym, R., Roberts, L. W., Lie, J., & Rytina, S. (2013). Sociology: Your compass for a new world (4th ed.). Nelson.

Carey, N. (2012). The epigenetics revolution: How modern biology is rewriting our understanding of genetics, disease and inheritance. Columbia University Press.

Flam, F. (2007, December 9). Separated twins shed light on identity issues. The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Gladwell, M. (2008). The trouble with geniuses, Part 2. In, Outliers: The story of success. Little, Brown and Company.

Goffman, I. (1961). Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. Anchor Books.

Hayasaki, E. (2018, May 15). Identical twins hint at how environments change gene expression. The Atlantic.

Mead, G. H., & Morris, C. W. (Ed.). (1934). Mind, self & society from the standpoint of a social behaviorist. University of Chicago Press.

Segal, N. (2017). Twins reared together and apart: The science behind the fascination. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society,161(1), 1–17.

Segal, N., Montoya, Y., Loke, Y., Craig, J. (2017). Identical twins doubly exchanged at birth: A case report of genetic and environmental influences on the adult epigenome. Epigenomics, 9(1), 512.

Spratling, C. (2007, November 25). Nature and nurtureDetroit Free Press.

Sternberg, R. J., Forsythe, G. B., Hedlund, J., Horvath, J., Snook, S., Williams, W. M., Wagner, R. K., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2000). Practical intelligence in everyday life. Cambridge University Press.

5.3 Agents of Socialization

Associated Press. (2011, October 23). Swedish dads swap work for child careThe Gainesville Sun.

Barnes, B. (2010, December 20). Pixar removes its first female director. The New York Times.

Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (1976). Schooling in capitalistic America: Educational reforms and the contradictions of economic life. Basic Books.

Collins, R. (2004). Interaction ritual chains. Princeton University Press.

Davis, A. (1944). Socialization and adolescent personality. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, 43(Part 1), 198–216. University of Chicago Press.

Davis, W. (1985). The serpent and the rainbow. Simon and Schuster. 

Friedenberg, E. (1959). The vanishing adolescent. Beacon Press.

Granatstein, J. L. (1998). Who killed Canadian history? HarperCollins.

Kohn, M. L. (1977). Class and conformity: A study in values. Dorsey Press.

Marshall, K. (2008). Fathers’ use of paid parental leave [PDF] (Statistics Canada catalogue no. 75-001-X.)

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O’Connor, L. (2011, January 26). The princess effect: Are girls too “tangled” in Disney’s fantasy? Annenberg Digital News.

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Oliveira, M. (2013, April 26). Canadians watch 30 hours of TV but for many web dominates free time. Toronto Star.

Piaget, J. (1947). The psychology of intelligence. Harcourt, Brace.

Roberts, D. F., Foehr, U. G., & Rideout, V. (2005). Parents, children, and media: A Kaiser Family Foundation survey. [PDF] The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Robson, K. (2019). Sociology of education in Canada. Open Library.

Rose, S. (2011, July 14). Studio Ghibli: Leave the boys behind. The Guardian.

Statistics Canada. (2011). General social survey – 2010 overview of the time use of Canadians: Highlights. (Statistics Canada catalogue no. 89-647-X).

Statistics Canada. (2013). General social survey: Time use 2010. The Daily.

Statistics Canada. (2021). Study: Family matters: Parental leave in Canada. The Daily.

Thompson, E. P. (1967, December). Time, work-discipline, and industrial capitalism. Past & Present, 38, 5697.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (2015). Canada’s residential schools: Th­e history, Part 1, origins to 1939. Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Volume 1). McGill-Queen’s University Press.

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5.4 Socialization Across the Life Course

Anderssen, E. (2016, June 24). Through the eyes of Generation Z. Globe and Mail.

Bauman, Z. (2004). Identity: Conversations with Benedetto Vecchi. Polity Press.

Bauman, Z. (2005). Liquid life. Polity Press.

Bethune, S. (2019, January 2019). Gen Z more likely to report mental health concerns. American Psychological Association Monitor on Psychology, 50(1), 20.

Goffman, I. (1961). Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. Anchor Books.

Gresko, J. (1992). Everyday Life at Qu’Appelle Industrial School. In Huel, R. (Ed.), Western Oblate Studies
2 (pp. 80). Edwin Mellen Press. [Cited in Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015, p. 173.)

Heisz, A. and Richards, E. (2019,April 18). Economic well-being across generations of young Canadians: Are Millennials better or worse off? Statistics Canada Catalogue number: 11-626-X No. 092.

Henig, R. M. (2010, August 18). What is it about twenty-somethings? The New York Times.

Kennedy, D. & Stevens, J. R. (1972). Recollections of an Assiniboine chief (p. 54). McClelland and Stewart. [Cited in Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015, p. 173.)

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Prince of Wales. (2012b). Prince Harry, gap year.

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Setterson, R. A., Jr. (2002). Socialization and the life course: New frontiers in theory and research. Advances in Life Course Research, 7, 1340. Elsevier Science Ltd.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (2015). Canada’s residential schools: Th­e history, Part 1, origins to 1939. Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Volume 1). McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Tsintziras, A. (2013, July 26). Millennials and anxiety: Is Generation Y anxious? The Huffington Post.

UNICEF. (2011). Percentage of children aged 5–14 engaged in child labour.

Solutions to Quiz: Socialization

1 B, | 2 D, | 3 C, | 4 C, | 5 D, | 6 A, | 7 D, | 8 C, | 9 C, | 10 A, | 11 D, | 12 C, | 13 B, | 14 B, | 15 A, | 16 C, [Return to Quiz]


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